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If you find yourself doubting your abilities and feeling like a scammer, you’re probably struggling with impostor syndrome. I should know – I’ve been dealing with trust issues for as long as I can remember.

Impostor syndrome is not a rare problem. In fact, it’s very common among successful, capable people. These high achievers feel like they just managed to work their way through work, relationships, or other aspects of life.

As a member of the financial independence community, I often feel like I’m inadequate – that I don’t have the “authority” to be an expert or influencer. Sometimes I feel like I’m messing around with jargon and don’t know what I’m talking about.

Through my conversations with other content creators in the personal finance community, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Virtually everyone else in this circle has experience with impostor syndrome.

So what exactly is impostor syndrome? And how can you overcome it?

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is the experience of not being able to accept your success. According to the American Psychological Association, people who suffer from impostor syndrome believe that they are unworthy of their achievements. They believe they got where they are, either by luck or by making everyone think they are better than they actually are.

Impostor syndrome affects disproportionately high achievers. Women and minorities are also more likely to suffer from it.

In 2017, New York magazine’s The Cut published a list of 25 successful women who self-identify as suffering from impostor syndrome. They include:

Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, Emma Watson, Tina Fey, Justice Sonia Sotomayor

I wouldn’t describe any of these women as unworthy of their success, would I? But they all describe the feeling of not belonging, fear, self-doubt and lack of experience. They also feel like a scammer.

According to The Cut, these women often have an unwarranted fear of being fired. Both Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain share the same fear – and who in their right mind would fire them?

I am also constantly afraid that I will be fired. But I’ve never been fired from a job. It’s just my mind playing tricks on me through impostor syndrome.

What are the symptoms of impostor syndrome?

If you suffer from impostor syndrome, you may experience:

Anxiety in generalFear of failureFear of being firedSelf-doubtLack of confidenceAnxietyComparing your success with othersCheater ThoughtsCheater Feelings of low self-esteemSelf-esteem

What are the effects of impostor syndrome?

Side effects of impostor syndrome can be both physical and mental. An important effect that we have already discussed is low self-esteem. Many of the symptoms can also duplicate as effects.

Mental Health Effects

Physical Side Effects

Consult a medical professional if you experience serious mental or physical side effects.

Common Causes of Impostor Syndrome

What causes impostor syndrome? Some people who report suffering from the condition report coming from families that placed too much emphasis on success and achievement. But for others, especially minorities, Impostor Syndrome can be caused by the hurdles our society has placed in reaching their goals.

People who consider themselves perfectionists also tend to suffer from impostor syndrome.

In some ways, impostor syndrome is very similar to the scarcity mindset, which is caused by:

Low self-esteem Discomfort with wealth or success A need for self-preservation

Does a scarcity mentality go hand in hand with impostor syndrome? There seems to be a big overlap. Many symptoms of a scarcity mindset are also symptoms of the impostor phenomenon.

Learn more:

How to deal with impostor syndrome?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has some great suggestions for overcoming impostor syndrome.

Here’s what they recommend:

Authenticity Talk about perfectionism Define success differently Focus on your talent


Jillian Johnsrud of Montana Money Adventure and our founder, Grant Sabatier of Millennial Money, both recommend being authentic. Being authentic helps you make deeper connections and increases your chances of success.

It also doesn’t matter if your authentic self is a giant nerd. As Grant says, “Embrace your madness — it’s human.”

When I asked my friend Jordan “Doc G” Grumet of the Earn and Invest Podcast how to overcome impostor syndrome, his advice was the same: be authentic to build an audience and make friends in the community. People like authenticity and it will lead to more success in the long run.

talking it out

Know that you are not alone. Talking about how you feel can help others feel comfortable sharing that they feel the same way.

Talk to a trusted person. This could be a mentor, therapist, friend, or someone you feel comfortable with. Expressing your feelings can increase your personal growth and reduce your anxiety.

Fight against perfectionism

Perfectionism can lead to procrastination. Know that we are all human and not perfect. That’s why your work can’t always be perfect.

There’s a point where you have to say, “Good enough.” After all, your “good enough” probably exceeds someone else’s expectations.

The APA also recommends that you celebrate your hard work with treats and small celebrations. So reward yourself for a job done “well enough” with a self-care session, a few minutes of fresh air, or a happy dance. You deserve it.

Define success differently

Grant Sabatier recommends changing your definition of success from money to peace of mind. Since finding financial freedom, Grant has slept better and felt calm and rested. That’s more important than diving into coins a la Scrooge McDuck.

Focus on your talent

Share your talent with people more experienced than you. But also consider sharing your talent with someone who is less experienced, for example by tutoring.

Another recommendation from the APA is to conduct a self-assessment of your talent areas. Recognize what you do well and where there is room for improvement.

Why should I overcome impostor syndrome?

Overcoming impostor syndrome can benefit your mental health. An increase in self-confidence, self-esteem and self-esteem can lead to greater success.

If you are confident, you can be more creative. You can also be calmer and rest better so that you are ready to take on your daily tasks.

Overcoming impostor syndrome can also help you fight perfectionism, a heavy burden many of us carry.

When you radiate a good sense of self-esteem, there are more opportunities to make money. And that can lead to financial freedom and peace of mind.

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