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5 Types of Imposter Syndrome Commonly Faced by Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

girl winking her eye

We Hold Ourselves Back Due to Imposter Syndrome

Is Imposter Syndrome something to which you can relate? If you are not sure, answer the following questions:

YES NO Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements?

YES NO Do you ever worry that people will find out you are secretly not worthy?

YES NO Do you apologize for yourself even if you didn’t do anything wrong?

YES NO Do you think others overvalue your success?

YES NO Do you think you have tricked others into thinking you are more successful than you actually are?

If you answered yes to several of the above statements, read on. According to Dr.

Valeria Young, cofounder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, there are five types of

Imposter Syndrome.

There are five types of Imposter Syndrome

1. The Expert

The expert usually feels that there are always more classes, webinars, certificates, or degrees they can earn before they would ever think of referring to themselves as an expert. They feel they need to know EVERYTHING about a topic before they can speak on it or teach it.

The Expert Imposter may pass up going for a promotion or even applying for a job if they feel like they don’t meet 100% of the suggested criteria.

QUESTION: If you were going to take your very first beginner yoga class, would it bother you that the teacher doesn’t have advanced training in Aerial Yoga or hadn’t yet mastered yoganidrasana (yoga sleeping pose)?

woman in yoga pose

ANSWER: My guess is that since you are just hoping to learn the essential poses you would be satisfied with someone who has mastered the fundamentals. It would be a shame for that teacher to hold themselves back from leading an entry-level class because they are still working on conquering Ashtanga-style yoga.

LESSON: Are you telling yourself that you will take the plunge after you get the next training? If so, imagine you just earned that training. Does the thought of taking the plunge paralyze you or excite you? The answer to that question should tell you if you are an Expert Imposter.

Knowledge doesn’t provide comfort or m promise you automatic confidence. That comes from doing something over and over and over again. That can only happen if you make the leap and do it a first time. Besides, you are awesome, so what are you waiting for?

2. The Soloist

I’m sure by the title, it is no surprise that the Soloist prefers to work alone. This can be for two reasons: they are afraid someone won’t do as good a job as them so they would rather do it themselves (the controlling soloist) or they don’t want to take credit if they work with others because they had assistance (the fiercely independent soloist).

The controlling soloist has trouble slowing down to take the time to teach someone else how to do a task so they can delegate. Instead, they just maintain responsibility for yet one more thing.

The fiercely independent soloist has difficulty asking questions or seeking help from an expert. Rather, they waste time and energy trying to learn it on their own.


Team work makes the dream work, baby. Work on accepting that team accomplishments are also your accomplishments.

In addition, when you ask for help or collaborate with others, it saves you time in the end (that you can spend on self-care, perhaps).

3. The Superwoman

Superwoman Imposters are overachievers. This can come in the form of the workaholic

who gains their self-worth through the validation of others or the helper who feels

important only when they are doing everything for everybody.

They feel that by working more than others they compensate for their feelings of being inadequate.

cartoon of female superhero with red cape

Unfortunately, this can lead to being a people pleaser who has difficulty saying no or setting boundaries. Superwomen can easily be taken advantage of if they have self- absorbed people in their life.


You don’t have to do all the things. Realize you are not the end-all, be-all to everyone in your life. If you feel that you are, then it is time to take an inventory of what you need to cut out or delegate to others.

Know that you are allowed to turn down requests for help from others and instead ask for help yourself.

Asking for help does not make you weak, knowing when to ask for help is a strength!


The Perfectionist holds themselves to a very high standard. To avoid feeling like an imposter, the Perfectionist will spend an excessive amount of time planning or preparing to avoid making mistakes.

If they do make a mistake, they are very hard on themselves and have trouble letting it go.

Perfectionists believe mistake = fraud so they exhaust themselves by over-thinking and working through every possible scenario to avoid being caught off guard.

"The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake. You can't learn anything from being perfect." - Adam Osborne


Done is better than perfect. Focus on what went well, not what went wrong. Embrace your blunders and realize they don’t make you a phony, they make you human. Mistakes does not an Imposter make. (To read a blog post on HSPs and Perfectionism, click here)


The Natural Genius gets frustrated when they don’t pick up on something right away.

They are hard on themselves if they feel they are not learning a skill fast enough.

excited woman with an idea light bulb over her head

Natural Geniuses are used to being the smart one in most situations and can feel like an imposter if they are not. When things come easy to a person in most areas of their life, it can be quite jarring for them when something takes time to learn or is hard to grasp.


Serena Williams wasn’t naturally born a great athlete. Her achievements and hard work have been life long and she still continues to train and face challenges.

Remember, if we aren’t challenged we can’t grow. We can’t always be the teacher, sometimes we have to be the student. But remember, that doesn’t make us a fraud.


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