5 Sneaky Ways Imposter Syndrome Steals Your Confidence

Melody Wilding, LMSW
5 min readSep 13, 2022
Photo by Marcelo Chagas

Picture it–you just finished an important presentation at work. By all accounts, you crushed it. Your clients were smiling and satisfied. And your boss even offered you glowing feedback afterward. Nevertheless, there is a nagging feeling deep inside that steals your confidence.

You push away the praise and chalk the performance up to luck or good timing. You don’t think you really deserve the pat on the back and worry that you couldn’t replicate your success in the future. Deep down, you fear that soon everyone will find out you’re not really as smart as you make yourself out to be.

Meet imposter syndrome, a phenomenon in which accomplished people discredit their achievements and fear being revealed as a fake or fraud.

Imposter syndrome is extremely common. Up to 70% of people say they struggle with it at some point in their career.

In my research and coaching programs, I have found that imposter syndrome is more common and felt more acutely by Sensitive Strivers–those who are both high-achieving and highly sensitive.

Sensitive Strivers have a biological disposition to process their own thoughts and feelings more deeply, as well as the behavior of those around them. All of which leaves you more susceptible to self-doubt, which in turn, continually steals your confidence.

While it’s clear that imposter syndrome is not pleasant or fun to deal with, there are also tangible consequences to not addressing it:

  • You may be passed up for new projects because you discount your work
  • You may miss out on earning more money because you don’t ask for what you are worth, or
  • You may avoid going for new opportunities because you don’t think you are qualified

On a broader level, the impact of imposter syndrome can be devastating. Burnout, which is the most common consequence of imposter syndrome, costs the economy upwards of $190 billion per year. That’s over $6000 a second.

There is good news within all of this. If you can recognize and catch yourself in imposter syndrome patterns, you can make changes to…

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Melody Wilding, LMSW

Author of TRUST YOURSELF. Executive coach to Sensitive Strivers. Human behavior professor. Featured in NYT, NBC, CNN. https://melodywilding.com/book