Imposter Syndrome

by Holly Thompson

Doubt, uncertainty, even fear are emotions that can be linked to Imposter Syndrome. It can happen at any time, most commonly at work, and can affect our performance and even lead us to make irrational decisions. So what exactly is Imposter Syndrome and how can you fight it?


As Psychology Today explains, “imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” 


Now that you know the definition, it’s also important to know that this is just a term and not something we have to claim as part of our identity.

Stressed Woman

If you’ve ever started a new job and thought “I don’t know how to do this” or “They picked the wrong person for the job”. Or maybe you’re about to complete a big project and you’re overwhelmed and close to the deadline and think to yourself “If I were good at this I would’ve been done by now.” Maybe you’re applying for jobs and you start doubting your abilities so you start looking at roles that you’re overqualified for and don’t really like. Perhaps you’re feeling as though you’re never going to be good enough.


All of this is just Imposter Syndrome showing its ugly head. 


Not only can Imposter Syndrome ruin our self-confidence, fill us with anxiety, and even be physically painful, but it can also teach other people to devalue us. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when Imposter Syndrome strikes:


1. Focus on facts, not feelings. 

Remember what you have accomplished. Instead of focusing on what could go wrong and letting your feelings dictate your actions, try to see yourself objectively for what you have done and what you can do.

2. Know that you don't have to know everything.

No one has all of the answers, and everyone is imperfect—it’s ok to ask questions and learn. Allow yourself to be open to suggestions and criticism in order to grow in this process.

Stressed Man
Closed Eyes

3. Reach out for support.

Easier said than done, I know. Admitting that you're struggling can be hard, but discussing your feelings with someone who knows you well can help you point out the truths and lies. This ties in with the first strategy of focusing on the facts.

4. Say "Thank you."

Sometimes, our knee-jerk reaction to compliments can be to brush them off or immediately start thinking about why the compliment isn’t valid. But a compliment is given and the giver gets to decide when to give it and why. Don’t belittle their perspective or your hard work by dismissing it. Take and appreciate the compliment. You might start to truly accept the positive feedback instead of embracing the initial negative thoughts circling your mind. 

5. Know that you're not alone.

This is an incredibly common feeling and affects all kinds of people from all walks of life. Most people don’t talk about it, but you are definitely not alone. Find comfort in the fact that many people have dealt with feeling this way and have gotten through it—just like you can. 

Remember, Imposter Syndrome is a label, but it doesn’t define who you are. Next time you’re beginning to discredit your work or yourself, try to assess if you relate with the feelings of Imposter Syndrome, then use these strategies to fight back!

Looking for more information? Check out this TED Talks video!

Holly's Imposter Syndrome Story