7 Imposter Syndrome Myths You Should Know About

imposter syndrome myths you should know about

Myth 4: Imposter Syndrome Is Your Fault.

Many Sensitive Strivers with imposter syndrome assume that having it is their fault—for not being smart enough, stronger enough, capable, or good enough. 

This is 100% false.

Sensitive Strivers are more susceptible to imposter syndrome because of their heightened perceptiveness, depth of processing emotions, thoughts, and the world around us. They tend to have heightened nervous systems which can equate to being more easily stressed and overwhelmed by challenges, and more emotionally reactive.

So while imposter syndrome is more common for Sensitive Strivers because of their biology, it’s something that can be managed. 

Myth 5: The Most Confident People Don’t Experience Imposter Syndrome.

Some of the world’s most successful people from David Bowie and Maya Angelou to business leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Howard Schultz have experienced imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome disproportionately affects people who are intelligent and capable—so paradoxically the fact that you experience it, pretty much proves that you aren’t an imposter.

Interestingly, there is an opposing phenomenon, the Dunning Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads people to believe they are more competent than they actually are.

Related: What is Imposter Syndrome?

Myth 6: Imposter Syndrome Keeps You Humble And Overcoming It Will Make You Overconfident And Big-Headed.

If you’ve been relying on imposter syndrome to keep your ego in check, it’s time to rethink that strategy. 

There is a difference between authentic, genuine, healthy confidence and the overconfidence and cockiness that comes with the Dunning Kruger effect. And by neglecting to work on developing healthy confidence, you’re holding yourself back from reaching your full potential.

For example, you may be passed up for new projects because you so frequently discount the work you do. You may miss out on earning more money because you don’t ask for what you’re worth. Or you may avoid going for leadership opportunities because you don’t think you’re qualified.

These consequences could be devastating on a personal level—burnout, the most common consequence of imposter syndrome, increases your risk for health conditions like sleep disturbances, digestive disorders, and mental health problems. And there’s a societal impact too. Burnout costs the economy upwards of $190 billion per year. That’s over $6000 a second. 

Want to know more about this? Check this video out below!

Myth 7: The Solution To Imposter Syndrome Is Awareness And Positive Thinking.

Remember the millions of posts that came up on your Google search for imposter syndrome?

If you’ve read just a handful of them, you’re probably under the impression that to overcome your imposter syndrome, you just have to “be more aware,” “talk it over with a sympathetic friend,” or “think more positively.”

Talk about a letdown.

While these strategies might work for some people or bring short-term relief, they’re rarely effective in the long-term—particularly for those who identify as Sensitive Strivers.

However, that doesn’t mean that you’re destined to experience imposter syndrome forever.

As Sensitive Striver, you have unique gifts that the other 80% of the population lacks. Your empathy, emotional intelligence, conscientiousness, and sense of integrity are your superpowers and offer tremendous value.

And with the right tools—highly actionable strategies designed with your unique personality as a Sensitive Striver in mind—you will be able to overcome the doubts, fears, and feelings of inadequacy, and finally recognize just how intelligent, capable, and deserving of success you truly are.

Related: The Imposter Syndrome

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Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding is the author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Recently named one of Business Insider’s Most Innovative Coaches for her groundbreaking work on “Sensitive Strivers”, her clients include CEOs, C-level executives, and managers at top Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and JP Morgan, among others. Melody has been featured in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and is a contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and Forbes. Melody is a licensed social worker with a Master's from Columbia University and a professor of Human Behavior at Hunter College. Learn more at melodywilding.comView Author posts