Imposter Syndrome Symptoms – Imposter syndrome is a pervasive phenomenon that affects individuals across various professions, backgrounds, and walks of life. It’s a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, no matter how much evidence exists that they are competent and capable. Imposter syndrome is a serious mental health condition that many individuals suffer from, but it is not often talked about, and many people falsely feel that they are alone in dealing with these feelings. At Horizon Plymouth, our counsellors often work with clients to identify and challenge distorted thought processes, and bringing awareness to the common challenges of imposter syndrome can help individuals realise that they are not alone. Some of the common challenges that many people struggling with imposter syndrome battle include:


Individuals with imposter syndrome often have maladaptive perfectionist tendencies that can be further negatively exacerbated by setting unrealistically high standards for themselves. These individuals frequently believe that any mistake or imperfection is a sign of their incompetence. They remain stuck in a cycle of self-doubt and cannot appreciate their achievements, no matter how large, as they constantly feel that they are undeserved.

Seeking external validation

Because imposter syndrome makes individuals feel as though they cannot trust their internal systems for validation, they frequently develop a reliance on external validation. They often find themselves stuck in a cycle of comparison and insecurity where they constantly seek approval from others to validate their worth. Such a mindset decreases resiliency and self-worth, greatly impacting global mental health.

Fear of failure

A deep-seated fear of failure is a hallmark of imposter syndrome. Individuals may avoid taking on new challenges or pursuing opportunities due to an overwhelming fear of not meeting expectations. They are unable to view setbacks as anything but a negative reflection on their competence rather than a natural part of the learning process and an opportunity for growth.


The fear of being unmasked as an imposter can drive individuals to overcompensate by working excessively hard, which can snowball into negative effects in other areas of their lives. Most notably, many individuals struggling with imposter system also suffer from burnout and fatigue as a result of overworking and constantly stiving to prove their worth through relentless effort.

Negative self-talk

The inner dialogue of individuals with imposter syndrome is often characterized by negative self-talk. They may engage in self-critical thinking patterns that downplay their achievements and emphasise perceived shortcomings. Because of this, they often may find it difficult to accept compliments of praise and dismiss positive feedback as insincere or believe that others are not seeing the “real” them.

The cumulative effects of the struggles that are common to imposter syndrome can have enormous negative impacts on personal relationships, hobbies, and work-life balance as a result of greatly diminished mental health. Counselling can help manage and mitigate imposter syndrome symptoms by employing a mixture of cognitive reframing, positive affirmations, and empowering interventions that help individuals regain their sense of strength, self-worth, and resiliency. By fostering self-awareness, challenging distorted thought patterns, and cultivating a supportive environment, counsellors empower individuals to break free from the grip of imposter syndrome and embrace their true capabilities, ultimately paving the way for a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Imposter syndrome is not an unusual phenomenon, and it should not be treated as such. Individuals whose lives are impacted by these negative mental health thoughts should know that they are not alone as they go through these challenges and that help is available. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of imposter syndrome, don’t wait to seek help. Contact Horizon Plymouth today to schedule your initial consultation and start improving your mental health today!