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5 Confidence Traps That are Wrecking Your Success

image of a venus fly trap showing how confidence can be a trap
03 October 2023

There are five confidence traps that we repeatedly fall into and they limit our self-confidence and self-esteem. They hold us back from receiving the successes we deserve and sabotage our efforts to live a fulfilling life.


As you read through the list, think about the areas of your life that might be affected by these confidence traps:


1. The Impostor Trap – Not believing in our own abilities.

2. The Comparison Trap – Constantly comparing ourselves to those around us.

3. The Underdog Trap – Feeling like we don’t belong and we aren’t good enough.

4. The Perseverance Trap – The belief that we can’t do something because we’ve tried and failed in the past.

5. The Perfectionism Trap – Believing we have to be perfect in order to succeed, and that anything less than perfect is a failure.


The good news is that these traps can be overcome by having more belief in ourselves and adopting a growth mindset, which means giving ourselves permission to fail sometimes, while at the same time recognizing our accomplishments and celebrating our victories along the way.


bear trap with the word confidence trap The Impostor Trap

The Impostor Trap is an unwarranted fear of being exposed as a “fraud” or “impostor” in our work and life. This can be particularly common among high achievers who are driven to succeed, who feel they always need to prove themselves (especially where their competence is concerned), and who compare themselves to others.

The Impostor Syndrome gets its name from the impostor who appears in the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. In the story, a little boy cries out, “But he has nothing on!” after the Emperor parades naked through town. The boy is actually pointing out that the emperor is unfit to rule because he’s incompetent, not because he’s naked. But nobody wants to admit that they don’t see something that everyone else sees, so they pretend to agree with the charade.

We’re all familiar with this phenomenon in one form or another: I don’t belong here; I’m not good enough for this job or promotion; I’m a fraud. It’s a voice that says we’re not smart enough, talented enough, experienced enough or qualified enough—a voice that tries to convince us we don’t deserve what we’ve worked hard to achieve.


The Comparison Trap

We naturally compare ourselves to other people. It’s part of our survival instinct. Our brains are wired to look for threats and opportunities, and for better or worse that tends to lead to comparisons.

We compare our talents, appearance, abilities, successes, failures….everything. The problem is that comparison often turns into a trap .

Here’s how it works:


We compare something about ourselves to someone else (like our intelligence). We feel bad about what we’ve compared (because someone else is smarter than us). This makes us feel insecure (because what if they find out?). So we try to hide the negative feeling by judging others harshly (to make ourselves feel better). We then treat others harshly because of this judgment (and feel bad again because we don’t like doing it). The negative feelings can lead to self-sabotaging behavior (like drinking too much or eating too much) which can cause even more unhappiness. This tends to create a vicious downward spiral where we judge others harshly which causes us to treat them harshly which makes us feel bad which causes us to judge others harshly again.


The Underdog Trap

The Underdog Trap is a tricky one because it doesn’t really look like a trap. In fact, it looks sort of like a silver lining, a way to give yourself permission to be good enough.

The fact is, being an underdog can feel pretty good. It’s actually a little addictive. And unfortunately, it can make you overlook some very real challenges and opportunities that may be right in front of you. There are plenty of people who fall into this pattern and stay there for years.


Perseverance Trap

The belief that we can’t do something because we’ve tried and failed in the past is known as The Perseverance Trap .

The Perseverance Trap is a belief that we can’t succeed because of a negative experience from the past. In other words, we believe that if we tried and failed before, then there’s no point in trying again. It’s a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, because once we accept that we can’t do something, we stop trying new approaches, get discouraged and give up too soon.

In reality, the only thing that holds us back from achieving our goals is ourselves. The Perseverance Trap helps us create an excuse for not trying again. And if we tell ourselves that story often enough then it becomes our reality.

Building habits requires effort, but failure isn’t an option . It’s an excuse.

If you’re not succeeding at building habits then look at your actions and take responsibility for your results . Chances are you haven’t given yourself the best possible chance of success.


The Perfectionism Trap

The Perfectionism Trap is one of the most common obstacles you’ll face on your journey to success. It’s the belief that in order to be successful, you have to be perfect. You must have a perfectly crafted plan, perfectly prepared presentation, perfectly rehearsed speech, and so on.

Succeeding in business means constantly facing new challenges. When you’re constantly waiting for the ideal moment to act, though, you won’t get anywhere. You have to develop strategies for dealing with imperfect situations, because life rarely goes according to plan.

Ask yourself these questions:

What are my best skills?

What are my not-so-good skills?

How can I work around my weaknesses?

How can I use my strengths to compensate for my weaknesses?


If your plan isn’t perfect, that doesn’t mean it’s doomed to failure. What it means is that you need to take action. Even small steps will help you improve your chances of success. Which of these do you fall into? Are you able to catch yourself before you make decisions…or do you only realize you are stuck once you have made a decision. As a Business/Executive Coach, these traps are one of of the first places I look when my client is falling short on their goals. I know my coach has helped me check myself at times when I am stuck in one of these.


If you have questions about any of these, I’d be happy to talk with you.  Heck, if your business, project, career or life in general, is not where you want it to be, reach out. I will make sure I am available to help.  (email me)


Win the Day.


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