9 Mental Traps of Imposter Syndrome

Your lack of self-confidence is more serious than you think.

Melody Wilding, LMSW


Many high-achievers share a dirty little secret: deep down they feel like complete frauds.

They worry that they’ll be exposed as untalented fakers and say their accomplishments have been due to luck.

This psychological phenomenon, known as Impostor Syndrome, reflects is the core belief that you are an inadequate, incompetent, and a failure — despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and successful.

Impostor Syndrome makes people feel like an intellectual fraud, rendering them unable to internalize — let alone celebrate — their achievements. Studies have shown this lack of self-belief is correlated with anxiety, low confidence, and self-sabotage.

From a psychological standpoint, Impostor Syndrome may be influenced by certain factors early in life, particularly the development of certain beliefs and attitude towards success and one’s self-worth.

Let’s take a look at exactly what thoughts run through the minds of people with Impostor Syndrome.

Thoughts of Imposter Syndrome

Do any of these apply to you?

1. “I’m a fake and I’m going to be found out.”

People with Impostor Syndrome believe they don’t deserve success.

They may believe about themselves, “I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am” or “I’m afraid my colleagues will discover how little I really know.” They fear being unmasked and having their perceived phoniness revealed.

Feeling as if they just narrowly escaped professional catastrophe time and time again creates a constant feeling of stress and anxiety that can color all of their work and relationships in a damaging way.

2. “I lucked out.”

Those who believe themselves to be impostors often attribute their accomplishments to luck. They may think, “I was in the right place at the right time” or “That was a fluke.”

These thoughts signal a fear that they won’t be able to repeat the success in the future, and speaks to…



Melody Wilding, LMSW

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