Two women are sitting in a business meeting in a modern office. They discuss something over papers and a laptop while one of them is pointing at the computer screen.
To counter imposter syndrome, make a list of people you consider to be successful. Read their memoirs or interviews. You will likely find they struggle with imposter syndrome too. — Getty Images/Hinterhaus Productions

Entrepreneurs may put more pressure on themselves than the average person due to their hunger to succeed. This pressure may lead to a feeling of imposter syndrome, especially when starting a first business. If entrepreneurs don’t achieve everything they want, it could lead to a feeling of “failure.”

What is imposter syndrome?

Although not a specific medical or psychological diagnosis, imposter syndrome occurs when individuals feel inadequate or undeserving in different areas of their lives. For example, an entrepreneur may feel unqualified for their job or as if they are going to be “found out” and fired. Anyone can experience imposter syndrome, but it affects women and people of color more often.

Imposter syndrome typically is accompanied by negative self-talk, in which you discourage or diminish yourself. However, it isn’t only feeling like a fake or failure; imposter syndrome is often correlated with — and can worsen — depression and anxiety.

Someone experiencing imposter syndrome may obsess over minute mistakes or agonize over things they said in meetings. They will likely not recognize their accomplishments and, instead, attribute their success to luck or chance. Any form of criticism, regardless of how constructive or valid it may be, may cause someone experiencing imposter syndrome to get defensive about their work.

[Read More: Top Women Executives from LinkedIn, Pinterest, and on Navigating the Long Shadow of Imposter Syndrome]

Imposter syndrome can severely damage an entrepreneur's self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

How imposter syndrome affects mental health

Since entrepreneurs experiencing imposter syndrome feel like they don’t deserve to be at their job, they are constantly worried that other people will feel the way they feel about themselves. Being constantly on edge leads to anxiety, while negative self-talk can worsen symptoms of depression. It can become harder to complete tasks, and people may find themselves dreading going to work or hopping on Zoom meetings.

Imposter syndrome can severely damage an entrepreneur's self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Because they feel undeserving of their role, entrepreneurs with imposter syndrome will work even harder to prove they deserve to be there. The extra stress and work can lead to burnout, which can make the person feel more like a failure.

How imposter syndrome affects professional relationships

When you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, it can quickly bleed into your relationships with bosses, coworkers, and mentors. It may be hard for you to trust people whose insight you previously valued. You may start to resent the people around you because you believe they pity you or think you are performing poorly.

People experiencing imposter syndrome may even distance themselves from coworkers to minimize the chances of being critiqued. That kind of distancing behavior or inability to delegate tasks can cause others to question their own abilities and draw negative conclusions about their working relationships.

An entrepreneur with imposter syndrome can also become clingy and constantly need reassurance from others — especially their boss. Any dramatic shift in your behavior toward others will likely draw attention from those on your team, but the need for constant reassurance could easily strain relationships with your superiors.

[Read More: How Imposter Syndrome Might Be Holding Your Business Back — And How to Tackle It]

Tips for tackling imposter syndrome

If the above signs feel familiar, you’re not alone. Here are some ways you can begin to address the negative impacts of imposter syndrome:

  • Seek out the memoirs of people you admire. Everyone is susceptible to impostor syndrome — even the people you look up to the most. Make a list of people you consider to be successful or exemplary at what they do. Read their memoirs or interviews, and you will likely find that they, too, have struggled with similar feelings of imposter syndrome.
  • Push back against negative self-talk. Although this can be difficult when you’re in the throes of depression, you can take small steps at first. Take time at the beginning of your day to pick out one thing about yourself you know you are good at — it can help set you off on the right foot. At the end of the day, pick one moment, however small, that you are proud of. This exercise will get easier the more you do it.
  • Seek professional help. As with any mental struggle, imposter syndrome can be hard to navigate on your own. Set appointments with a counselor or therapist to guide you on your journey. A supportive person, whether they are giving you tools to overcome imposter syndrome or simply listening, with an outside perspective can make all the difference.

[Read More: The Surprising Psychology of Successful Entrepreneurs and Why They Take the Risk]

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