Do You Have Impostor Syndrome? You Can Learn How To Tame It.

3 min
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Hands up if you often find yourself in a room where everyone seems to know what they’re doing, except you. More than that, you’re convinced that your colleagues, clients, friends, or family members will soon find out that you’re not as capable as they thought you were. Do you ever feel like a fraud, constantly anxious that you got to where you are by some kind of fluke, and that it could soon all be taken away? This is what Impostor Syndrome feels like. Luckily, we have news that can help you feel less alone in this: most of the people in the room with you probably feel the same way. To be perfectly honest, we’re probably all winging it in some way or another. 

“But I Don’t Deserve To Be Here”

According to a UK study, feeling unworthy of our achievements is an affliction that affects up to 85% of professionals, and the feeling is one that’s echoed all over the world一so chances are you may indeed have a certain level of Imposter Syndrome. It’s an affliction that’s rife among over-achievers, and it’s also something that affects a higher proportion of women and marginalized communities. It doesn’t only occur in the workplace, either – it can also relate to our position in the community or as a parent, for instance. Even successful public figures such as Michelle Obama, Ariana Huffington, and Daniel Radcliffe have all admitted to feeling like an impostor in their spheres at some point. Some studies describe Impostor Syndrome as a psychological disorder, while other psychologists don’t consider it a mental health condition as it is such a prevalent phenomenon.

Does Anyone Know What They’re Doing?

A certain element of self-doubt can be healthy and motivating: it keeps us in check from an inflated sense of competence. It’s also natural to feel a bit nervous when starting a new job or starting a newly-elevated role after a promotion, for example. But there’s an important difference between humility and insecurity, and over the long-term, Impostor Syndrome can prevent us from realizing our potential. It can hold us back from going for a promotion for which we are perfectly qualified, or from stepping into a position of leadership that the community might benefit from. It can also take its toll on our mental and physical well-being, with one review of studies finding a negative correlation between Impostor Syndrome and resilience. While a complete lack of the ability to question our own abilities and acknowledge our own shortcomings can be a sign of grandiose narcissism, a reasonable lack of awareness of our own deficiencies can also give us the courage to take more risks around responsibilities that we aren’t quite equipped for yet, in what’s known as the Dunning-Kruger effect

What Are The Signs Of Impostor Syndrome?

Some of the signs that you may have Impostor Syndrome, and that it might be impacting your mental health and causing you distress, include:

  • Cognitive dissonance around your achievements: You cannot connect the person you are on paper, your achievements and milestones, with the person you see yourself to be.
  • Risk of burnout: You are trying so hard to meet unrealistically high expectations that you are feeling perpetually overwhelmed and exhausted. 
  • Anxiety or depression: Your severe insecurities are presenting as symptoms of anxiety and stress, or total disengagement.
  • Reluctance to accept help for fear of being “discovered” for who you really are.
  • A deep-rooted sense of shame about being underqualified for your role.
  • Fear, shame, or guilt about standing out and being recognized for your achievements.

One interesting thing to note about Imposter Syndrome is how it can also lead to narcissistic traits. Certain types of narcissists ー such as vulnerable narcissists ー have such a depleted sense of self that they are effectively overcompensating for their insecurities with an inflated ego. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are unlikely to be doing the work of self-development, but even those of us with a healthy sense of self-awareness can fall into the trap of being inauthentic and self-focused when we feel insecure in our surroundings. 

How Do I Tame The Impostor?

When Impostor Syndrome is affecting well-being, it’s likely to come down to a low sense of self-worth. This is something best addressed with a therapist, coach, or other mental health professional, to root out and address the limiting beliefs that are making you feel like you don’t deserve to succeed, or that you are not “enough”. There are also steps you can take to start building up your self-esteem, and boosting self-confidence, so that you can grow to be at peace with the fact that you are worthy of being in the room一alongside everyone else that’s not quite convinced they should be there.


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Surveying the Relationship Between Resiliency and Imposter Syndrome; Fear of Being Exposed; Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Imposter Syndrome; Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome

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