Capricorn ~ Imposter Syndrome, Feelings of Incompetence, and Fear of Success

(c) cjwright 2010

Are you one of those folks who starts feeling a little awkward and nervous when you succeed? Do you feel like you don’t really measure up to the competition ~ even though you’re clearly exceptional ~ and that you just “got lucky” and don’t really deserve the credit? Even if you’ve received acknowledgement or awards for your efforts, do you still have that nagging feeling that it’s really no big deal and that anyone with half a brain must be able to do it because…well, you did it, so it can’t be that big a deal?

Maybe there’s a weight hanging on you that you just can’t shake, and you know deep in your heart that everything that’s wonderful now is going to come crashing down around you when “they” catch on to how mediocre and undeserving you are. You feel like you’ve fooled everyone, and sooner or later they’ll find out.

Maybe you’re the type that knows you’re qualified to handle a job, but you let things slip and slide without performing at your full potential. After all, “they” just might expect you to do it again and you really don’t believe you can maintain the quality. Okay, maybe you were successful that one time, but obviously it was a fluke.

Well, if you feel that way, you’re most likely wrong about yourself ~ and you’re not alone.

There are so many talented, skilled, exceptional people who just can’t find it within themselves to feel good about their accomplishments. Self-esteem or confidence levels are minimal. Self-doubt is huge. They just can’t believe they are as good as the competition and they know everyone is going to find out sooner or later and expose them for the frauds they are.

If you feel like a fraud, even though you’ve accomplished wonderful things, you might be experiencing a phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome. If that sounds more Scorpionic to you than Capricornish it’s probably because you’re thinking that imposters are evil-doers out to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Imposter Syndrome is different. It’s not literally posing as someone you’re not. It’s an internal process of feeling like you’re not truly qualified for your success. You think of yourself as a fake. This fear of being found out, as well as the fear of success, is Saturn, Capricorn and 10th house territory ~ fear, wordly success, authority and reputation.

I first read about Imposter Syndrome in the December 2009 issue of Physchology Today. It reminded me of so many people I’ve known ~ women especially, though not solely ~ who were incredibly qualified and competent but who didn’t believe in themselves. They believed they’d be discovered for what they felt they were ~ someone who’s been faking it, without real credibility, just a lucky break. They believed there were other people who were much more qualified than them, and who really deserved the success and acclaim they had received.

A person could have normal jitters before, say getting up to give their first speech, do well, and then draw from this experience to feel more confident about the next time. The impostor doesn’t think this way. Because no matter how well you did or how loud the applause, you always think you could have done better or that you just had a “good audience” with no real bump in confidence.
~ Dr. Valerie Young on Imposter Syndrome

Whether you have Imposter Syndrome, real fear of success, low self-esteem, or occasional bouts of self-doubt, there are ways to use the planets that can help you overcome those debiiltating feelings of not measuring up.

Sun ~ Nobody deserves acclaim for your own hard work more than you do yourself. Tell yourself how proud you are of yourself for even small accomplishments. Enjoy the successes you’ve made and build up your confidence. It really is okay to give yourself a pat on the back now and again. With hard Saturn/Sun aspects you might be too tough on yourself. Slack off a little. Would you treat someone with your accomplishments as poorly as you treat yourself? Probably not. Treat yourself well. After all, everywhere you go…there you are. You might as well like yourself.

Moon ~ This is all about your feelings, which may or may not have anything at all to do with the truth. We can’t let our feelings hold us back and keep us in fear. Do you have hard Saturn/Moon contacts that contribute to your lack of confidence or get you fully engaged in a pity party? Feel the fear and do it anyhow.

Mercury ~ Talk your feelings of insecurity over with a trusted friend or advisor. Shame (§) keeps many “Imposters” from overcoming their negative feelings. Shame likes to stay in the shadows, so talk it out. Bring it into the light. Do you have hard Saturn/Mercury contacts that may contribute to your inability to talk about your self-doubt or your ability to excel? A wonderful teacher once said, “Name something and it is yours.” Speak it’s name and gain control over it.

Venus ~ Be your own biggest fan. In really simple terms, love yourself. In the long run, you’re all you’ve got so learn to be your best supporter. Hard Saturn/Venus contacts might cause you to not like yourself very much or to feel unworthy. If you found the same good qualities in another person that you deny in yourself, would you tell them they’re not worthy? Why would you do that to yourself? More pats on the back are needed again.

Mars ~ Do you find it hard to start something because you think, “Oh, what’s the use?!” Take the reins off Mars for a while and allow yourself to feel some excitement flowing through your veins. Remember the anticipation of finally getting to throw yourself into a great project. Is Saturn making contacts with your Mars that keeps you from taking the first few steps. There’s an old baseball expression, “You can’t steal home if you don’t take your foot off first base.” Sometimes the first step requires the most effort. After the first step, you might find that everything else is a cakewalk. Jumping in and competing will give you a good idea of your true ability. It also just might goad you on to competing with your superiors instead of bowing down to them. Competition will teach you a lot.

Jupiter ~ As the song goes, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” If little niggling details are keeping you from progressing or feeling capable, start focusing on the positives and get out of that well of gloom and doom. Is Saturn interfering with your Jupiter? Give ol’ Jup some time of his own. Let him grandstand a little. Everyone can use a cheerleader. You’ve got one with you everyday, if you’ll just give yourself the credit you deserve. Throw thunderbolts at those negative thoughts and zap them the minute they show their dirty little faces.

Saturn ~ Saturn’s just as much your friend as he is your foe. Look behind you at what you’ve accomplished so far. Take a yoga approach and don’t judge yourself compared to the bendy people on the other mats. Do your own thing, at your own pace, and give it your best shot. Envision yourself doing well in a situation and give yourself acknowledgement for each small accomplishment. Use a “star reward system” on a paper chart with stars added to each task you complete. Track your progress and see your growth. And don’t isolate yourself. Saturn’s teeth come out when you do that. And, even when you feel like you’re completely alone, you’re not. There’s always someone who cares.

Uranus ~ Acknowledge the fact that you are pure genius. We all have great insights and spectacular ideas that no one else on the planet can express as well as us and with the novelty that only we can bring. Expect to look foolish sometimes. We all do. Nobody’s born knowing everything. And some of those crazy ideas you have are the epiphanies and revelations that propel you toward the top of your niche ~ whether that’s getting an article published, winning an Academy Award, balancing your checkbook to the penny, or having the best brownies at the Old Hippies Reunion.

Neptune ~ Don’t underestimate the power of a dream. Wanting something can make it so ~ IF you put forth the effort to bring it into being. Robin Fisher Roffer said, “I believe in miracles and destiny, but in the end we make our own realities.” Don’t let Neptune keep you in Wish World, but do everything you can to bring your dreams into being. They’re worth it.

Pluto ~ Pluto may be your best ally. He has the power to rebirth you. If you can tear apart the process of not believing in yourself, you’ll discover all the little ways you’ve sidetracked and bushwhacked yourself. You’ll discover it was never “them,” it was always you. From that vantage point, and with the work you do to really recognize yourself as qualified and deserving, he’ll give you a sort of Magic Ticket and take you so far from the old you that you’ll barely recognize who you once were.

This is not easy work. There’s a huge hurdle to overcome ~ your own thoughts about yourself. But insecurities can be overcome. Someone very dear to me once said, “You can do anything you want to do. You can be anything you want to be.” She was telling the truth.

Relevant Links:
Imposter Syndrome, Dr. Valerie Young’s website
Feel Like a Fraud? At Times, Maybe You Should
Virgo ~ Criticism and the Fear of Rejection
Welcome to the Faker Fringe, with advice for parents

1/13/10 Update:

Dr. Young kindly commented on this post this morning and we had a few lovely exchanges. For those of you who want to know more about Imposter Syndrome, I strongly encourage you to visit her website,

About Dr. Young:

Dr. Valerie Young is an internationally known speaker and workshop leader. She has delivered the “How to Feel As Bright and Capable As Everyone Seems to Think You Are” program at such diverse organizations as Intel, Chrysler, Boeing, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Procter & Gamble. Her career-related tips have been cited in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, USA Weekend, Kiplinger’s magazine, Woman’s Day, Entrepreneur, The Chicago Tribune, Redbook, Fitness, Self, and The Chronicle of Higher Education well as online at and

In addition to her work at she is the Dreamer in Residence at and is the publisher of the Changing Course newsletter read by over 23,000 people around the world. She is author of an upcoming book on the impostor syndrome with Crown Publishing, a division of Random House.

17 thoughts on “Capricorn ~ Imposter Syndrome, Feelings of Incompetence, and Fear of Success

    1. They’re in use all over the web. And they’ve been in emails, too. They are lots of them, and it was hard to choose. The goldfish really cracks me up.

    1. How wonderful to find your comment here, Dr. Young.

      I am very impressed with your work and wanted to share it with others. So many of my more-than-qualified friends and readers deserve to know just how fantastic and qualified they really are. Thank you for the work you do and the encouragement you’ve given to so many people.

  1. Wow, CJ, this is an excellent article and a very fine resource to know about! I was not aware at all of this new psychology finding, but it surely strikes a chord in terms of clients and people I know. Thanks for putting it out there in our community, and adding your own astrological insights to it. A great service!!
    Donna Cunningham

    1. I hadn’t known that imposter feelings actually had a name until I read about it, but I’ve known about the feeling for a long time. I always thought of it as not being “good enough,” a feeling that some astounding people experienced. I’ve had more than one bout with it, too. Now, when it rears its ugly head in the future, I’ll recognize it for what it is.

  2. Ah, Cj..very close to home here.

    Fabulous article, but I had to ‘sneak’ up on it.. just reading your title this past day had my power chakra squeezing and I knew you had something for me in this.
    My Venus-sq-Sat has been highly active for a while now (thanks to Mars in Leo) and I have been all over this ‘failure’ business until it makes my head spin.
    I absolutely adored what you offered for those of us with of recent I am constantly self-affirming my worth. I just walk around saying to myself, “I am damn good at what I do”
    It feels good too, now that I am no longer hung up on having someone take that as a vanity, if they should over-hear my self-approval(hmm..looks as if I just put it out there for everyone and overhearing necessary.. Good then! Another positive step forward.)
    I hadn’t realized until recent how the lack of approval from others in my formative years left me with these self-defeating patterns of failure and ‘imposter syndrome’ as you offered here.

    A big hug and thank you, for a wonderful piece that was perfect for where I am and what I am working through right now! Kachina

    1. I understand the feeling of having to sneak up on it. I did some sneaking around accepting that this is a real feeling, sorting of like poking a dead snake with a stick. Will it jump at me?! The same goes for those feelings of inadequacy we carry from our childhoods. We have to be ready to go there, you know? It’s choosing to walk down to the basement without the light on. The switch is at the bottom.

      And, Kachina, you are damn good at what you do.

  3. Fabulous post CJ, I can definitely relate to that in many ways. A well timed reminder to be bolder about having faith in myself! Thank you. Mandi

    1. Faith is what it takes, Mandi. Faith’s a lot like a silk strand – it looks delicate, but it can withstand so much pressure. You hang on to it, and don’t let anyone ever take it away from you.

      1. Re-reading this fab post a year on and the silk strand comment really stood out. You’re so right. Funnily enough (coincidence?) I saw a documentary last evening about how a university has put spider genes into goats so that the goats produce spider silk protein in their milk, which they then extract. Not sure how I feel about that kind of frankinstein science, but fascinating nevertheless.

        1. That is weird, isn’t it? I remember seeing a program a few years back where they mentioned adding flounder genes to some kind of vegetable. I asked my vegetarian niece what the implications of that might be. It’s all so discombobulating.

  4. CJ, thanks for this astrologically supportive approach to the Imposter Syndrom. I first heard about this while I was still in the corporate fast-track … thinking just that “when they find out who I really am …” This was back in the early 90’s and was an article that linked the Imposter with the Cinderella syndroms. I am a hybrid of those fears still challenged to not only go to the bottom of the stairs to switch on the light, it’s the going back upstairs once the light is on that keeps getting me.

    Living with the effects of chemical injury and multiple sensitivities adds to the challenge. Being able to sort out a physical reaction from the old Imposter and Cinderella fears wears a girl down. I love Kachina’s description of the self-talk and approval monologue; a much better version of self-talk than the old ones. While Mercury finishes doing a number on the electrical equipment in my world, access to the treasure troves ie. your site, is slowed up. What a nice breakfast find. I didn’t ‘sneak’ up to your article, I knew what I’d find and my soul did say … “Go on, now. You just go on!”

    1. Oh, Mokihana, you are so dear. Kachina’s good self talk makes all the sense in the world. How much more time do we need to spend telling ourselves how rotten and undeserving we are? I was at the home of a friend once and as she was leaving, she looked directly into her own eyes in the mirror, blew herself a kiss, and said, “I love you.” And she meant it! Wow, that rocked my boat. We have to care about ourselves, you know, instead of beating ourselves up all the time. Like Mandi said, it takes faith, and sometimes a lot of saying things to ourselves over and over and over again until we begin to convince ourselves. Why didn’t someone tell us when we were young that one day we’d have to sort all these feelings out? Who knew it was going to be so hard? I think I’d still be a misanthrope and incredibly angry if I hadn’t found the tools in astrology to begin to unravel everything. What a difference it has made.

  5. CJ,
    “faith is like silk thread” … OMGoddess! What a partnership of faith (the silk thread) and Grace the unseen yet notoriously magical ingredient built into our DNA.
    “Why didn’t sometime tell us when we were young …” REALLY! Fortunately, that Faith and Grace partnership circles around (perhaps as part of the belt of the constellations) available for reassembling at any age, any time. It is surely the things that make my Scorpionic, heavily Pluto beginnings changeable even with all those FIXED signs there are the CARDINALS that must account for the re-births and start-overs that I experience better late, than never.
    Thanks for the Space ship Moon, CJ.

  6. Love this! I have Cap rising and struggle with this so much. I am embarking on a yoga teacher training and have so many insecurities around it. Even said to myself well how will I know if I suck or not in the training because yogis are all about non judgment and will be supportive even if I suck. I rarely believe someone when they tell me I have done a good job.

    1. I think recognizing Imposter Syndrome helps us to manage it. We can step back and say, “Stop it. What I’m telling myself isn’t true. I AM good at this.” I get what you say about the yogis, jewelinthelotus. You’ve just got to trust and…breathe. You’ll do a wonderful job in your training.

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