It can happen to the most accomplished among us. For example, in spite of publishing a best-selling novel, a writer feels like her success is only based on luck. She doubts whether she can even turn a phrase at all, and that it’s only a matter of time before her peers discover she’s a fraud.

Meet imposter syndrome, “an internal dynamic in which a person believes they have fooled those around them into believing that they are competent, but in truth they are really acting and have no expertise or skill other than the capacity to make people believe they are better than they really are,” says Richmond, Virginia-based therapist Susan J. Buniva, MSW, LCSW. “The person then suffers significant anxiety that they will be discovered and humiliated, revealed to be a fraud,” she says.The phenomenon is like a self-fulfilling prophecy that can ultimately hinder success. And, it’s common.

According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Science, it's estimated that 70% of people in the US have experienced impostor syndrome. But the good news is, if you catch the thought pattern in its tracks, you can change your mindset and revel in the success that is so well-deserved.

Take our quiz to find out where you rate on the imposter syndrome scale and, if need be, how you can take steps to overcome it.

I believe the success I’ve had is a fluke.
Even when I do well, I don’t think I really deserve it.
I worry about feeling overwhelming shame if my incompetence is ever revealed.
I worry that people will find out I'm not as smart as they think I am.
I downplay my achievements.
It’s hard for me to accepts compliments.
I feel uncomfortable with praise.
I compare myself to others.
I feel like failing is not an option.
I hesitate to brag about my accomplishments.
I don’t like drawing attention to my successes.
I feel like things are more of a struggle for me.
I feel like I’m just making it up as I go.
Success doesn’t come easy for me; I have to work at it.

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Last Updated: Oct 19, 2021