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Imposter Syndrome vs. Low Self-Esteem: What's the Difference?

Imposter Syndrome vs. Low Self-Esteem: What's the Difference?

How you feel about yourself affects every aspect of your life — from the goals you set for yourself personally and professionally to the way you let other people treat you. Everyone deserves to feel confident in who they are, but if you’ve ever questioned your success or found it hard to let go of your mistakes, you’re not alone.

An estimated 82% of people struggle with imposter syndrome, and 85% have low self-esteem. Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you’re a fraud and don’t deserve the things you’ve achieved. Low self-esteem is a negative self-perception that makes you judge yourself harshly.

While these two conditions have a lot of similarities, they’re not identical. Overcoming your doubt and fear starts by understanding the cause, and our team at Beverly Hills Psychology can help. We specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mentalization based therapy  (MBT) to improve your confidence and your self-esteem.

All about imposter syndrome

The term “imposter syndrome” comes from the term “imposter phenomenon,” which originated with psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. Clance and Imes used the term to describe high-achieving women who felt fraudulent or inadequate like they had fooled people into believing they were successful. 

Now, imposter syndrome is used to describe consistent feelings of self-doubt, even in areas where you’ve performed well. A few common signs of imposter syndrome are: 

If you have imposter syndrome, you might feel like a fraud or tell yourself you don’t deserve the things you’ve achieved. Imposter syndrome can create anxiety that other people will find out you’re a fake and that you’ll fail to live up to expectations.

All about low self-esteem 

Low self-esteem means you judge yourself harshly, think negative thoughts about yourself, and focus more on your flaws than your successes. Unlike imposter syndrome, low self-esteem usually doesn’t make you feel like a fraud, but you may still live in fear of failing or letting others down.

Some signs of low self-esteem include:

Sometimes, low self-esteem can cause or worsen mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

The connections between imposter syndrome and low self-esteem

Imposter syndrome and low self-esteem share similar signs, and the conditions can overlap. Having low self-esteem may make you more likely to experience imposter syndrome. Sometimes, having imposter syndrome and the anxiety that comes with it can lower your self-esteem.

While every person is different, there are a few ways we help you identify which issue is affecting you. A person with imposter syndrome has generally achieved some level of success in an area of their life, yet they struggle to attribute that success to their own ability.

A person with low self-confidence, on the other hand, may be too worried about failing to start working toward their goals in the first place. Low self-confidence generally impacts multiple areas of your life, while imposter syndrome is often limited to specific areas.

No matter your symptoms or struggles, our trained team of therapists and psychologists are here to help. We use evidence-based methodologies to identify your negative thought patterns, show you how to recognize them, and give you tools to overcome those issues and build your confidence.

To learn more, book your first appointment at Psychology Beverly Hills. Request an appointment online or call our office at 424-331-1568.

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