The Cost of Imposter Syndrome

imposter syndrome
The Cost of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the faulty belief that one is a fraud and not deserving of their achievements. This is often despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Science suggests that nearly 70% of the U.S. population has experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. 


Imposter syndrome can be debilitating to one's personal and professional life. It also affects one's mental and physical health and even their relationships in a variety of ways.


Personal & Professional Life

Imposter syndrome often leaves people feeling as if perfectionism is the only option and asking for help is out of the question.


This perfectionism results in two primary responses: 


1) An imposter will procrastinate out of the fear that they cannot meet the often unreasonable high standards they've set for themselves.
2) The imposter will over-prepare and spend an extraordinary amount of time on the task in an obsessive manner as a means of trying to get it to perfection. 


This behavior can contribute to massive amounts of stress. The person dealing with imposter syndrome tries to meet unrealistic standards of excellence or constantly lives in fear of their inability to perform well. Often, good outcomes in response to either of these responses work to reinforce the behavior further and lead to toxic cycles. 


Burnout is often more common because people get trapped in the cycle of overworking or overproducing to meet high standards and prove themselves worthy. 


Additionally, people struggling with imposter syndrome can also miss out on opportunities as their fear of failure will keep them from taking risks or chances that could lead to a positive outcome. They’d much rather not try and avoid failure than try and fail, even if the likelihood of failure is not that large. 


Mental & Physical Health

Imposter syndrome can create massive amounts of psychological distress, enhance self-monitoring, increased self-doubt and continual fear of failure. Levels of stress that are continually high over time can lead to anxiety disorders, increased risk for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other mental health issues. 


Not only that, the increased levels of cortisol present in the body when high levels of stress are experienced can lead to a host of physical health issues. This includes but is not limited to gastrointestinal issues, migraines/headaches, heart issues, raised blood pressure, and chronic pain conditions. 



Relationships with family members can also suffer as a result of imposter syndrome. When large amounts of time and effort are put into accomplishing tasks, it can put a strain on relationships because family members might 


Imposter syndrome can negatively impact relationships when a family member prioritizes career success over time with families or children. Partners and families can suffer when someone spends too much time trying to prove themselves in a professional capacity to the detriment of their personal lives.


The cost of imposter syndrome is high because it affects so many aspects of your life. It’s time to release yourself from its clutches.


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