Imposter Syndrome

Man in suit covering his face suffering with Imposter Syndrome


Do you ever worry that you’re not capable of the position you’re in? And worse, that at some point people are going to find out you’re a fraud?

You may be suffering with Imposter Syndrome. But don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone! A study found that 82% of people have suffered with Imposter Syndrome at some point in their careers.

The good news is, there are ways to combat it, so I’m here to help.

What actually is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that causes you to have feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty about your talents and abilities. You can feel like a fake despite the success you have achieved.

According to internationally recognised expert and Co-Founder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, Dr Valerie Young, there are 5 imposter types:

  • The Perfectionist: You focus on “how” something is done, rather than the outcome. You believe that unless you’re 100% perfect, you could have done better. As a perfectionist, you believe you’re not as good as others think you are.
  • The Expert: you feel like an imposter because you don’t know everything there is to know about a particular subject. You don’t believe you’ve achieved the level of “expert”.
  • The Natural Genius: you feel like a fraud because you don’t believe you’re naturally intelligent or capable. If you don’t get something right first time, you believe you’re an imposter.
  • The Soloist: You believe you have to be the one to carry out everything on your own. If you had to ask for help to reach a certain level, you question your competence because you couldn’t get there on your own.
  • The Superperson: You measure your success by “how many” roles you can master. You believe that you must be the hardest worker to reach the highest levels of achievement and if you don’t, you’re a fraud.

How do you know if you have it?

Well, if you resonated as much as I did with the above imposter types, I’d say there’s a strong potential you have Imposter Syndrome!

Historically, it’s been a term thought mainly to apply to women. However, it’s now recognised that Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone.

Good questions to ask yourself would be:

  • Do you believe the success you’ve had is down to you or has it been a fluke?
  • Do you worry about somebody discovering your incompetence?
  • Do you downplay your achievements?
  • Do you compare yourself to others?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable with praise?
  • Are you sensitive to even constructive criticism?
  • Do you feel like you will inevitably be found out as a phony?

What can you do to help?

The first step is to acknowledge you’re actually suffering with Imposter Syndrome. The second is to start challenging your beliefs and thoughts. This isn’t always easy, especially because sometimes you don’t know what your deeply held beliefs about yourself are.

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • What core beliefs do I hold about myself?
  • Do I need to be perfect for others to approve of me?
  • How did I get to the position I am in?

Once you have uncovered your internal belief system/ thoughts about yourself, you now have to start challenging them.

Start by speaking to people, as they say a problem shared is a problem halved! If you have been feeling like you’re not good enough, expressing this to others and listening to their responses can really help.

Assess your abilities realistically. Write down your accomplishments and what you are good at. If you need help with this, ask somebody to give you prompts on what they think you’re good at and listen to them as they explain why. If you can find things you agree with, write them down and focus on these things daily.

Reframe your negative thoughts. This isn’t easy, but its definitely possible. Start by acknowledging when you’re having negative thoughts. Once you begin to notice them, rather than allowing the negative thinking to continue, cut it off. Either argue against the negative thought and come up with an alternative or simply stop and allow the thought to drift away. In the beginning this will feel difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. Over time, you’ll learn to reframe your negative thinking.

Focus on facts rather than feelings. Your feelings are important, don’t get me wrong, but in this case, facts can be more helpful. For example, it may be a fact that you’re in a senior role, but your feelings are telling you that you’re a fraud. Concentrate on the facts and keep making yourself acknowledge those facts until eventually, your feelings catch up.

Stop comparing yourself to others! This one is absolutely essential and I want to shout it loudly from the rooftops. Comparison is your enemy. In a professional setting I’d say the best thing you can do is quit the scrolling through LinkedIN. In my opinion, the LinkedIN feed can be just as toxic (if not more!) than other social media platforms. And just as we’ve learned about bikini pictures on Instagram, most of it isn’t real. Everybody’s journey is different and you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, so there’s no point comparing yourself.


Imposter Syndrome is difficult to handle and is more common than you’d think. It can impact anybody, regardless of their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.

The important thing is to acknowledge it and to begin to confront the beliefs you have that are making you feel as though you’re a fraud.

The good news is, through talking to others and doing some work on your side, you can overcome Imposter Syndrome. It won’t be easy, but you can start today and see where you get to! If you try to work on it on your own and things aren’t getting better, it may be a good idea to see a professional. Therapists are trained to spot the signs of Imposter Syndrome and can give you more tools to work through it.

I hope this has been helpful, as a long-term sufferer myself I know its not easy. But you can absolutely get there! And remember, in order to have Imposter Syndrome, you must have some degree of success in your life (that you’re attributing to luck!) so start there, you are incredible, remember that!