How To Conquer Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a condition that affects a surprising number of us. Sufferers are often extremely talented individuals who others consider to be great at their jobs. Although for some reason, they doubt their own abilities which can hold them back in their careers. Fortunately for sufferers, it is possible to overcome this common workplace fear.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Clance’s Discovery:

Woman looking frightened due to her imposter syndrome

Clance, with the help of Valerie Young, decided to investigate these feelings. She conducted a study of women at the university she worked at — those either studying or working at the Institution. The study found pervasive thoughts of feeling like an imposter. To analyse the concept further, she introduced studies across race, age, gender and a range of job occupations. These emotions were more prevalent in minority groups. However, all of the groups established imposter-like feelings and fraudulence.

Famous Faces in Cases:

A young imposter pretending to be Einstein

Of course, the condition was unheard of in Einstein’s day. Therefore, he simply referred to himself as an “Involuntary Swindler” connoting his core beliefs that he did not think that he was a genius, despite what his accolades and following would suggest.

Furthermore, Einstein is not the only famous brain to suffer from the syndrome. Author and Civil Rights Activist, Maya Angelou, felt that she too did not deserve her accomplishments stating:

“I run a game on everybody, they’re going to find me out”

Maya Angelou

Despite her worldwide success as a novelist and undeniable voice of strength for the Civil Rights Movement, she did not believe that she should receive the attention she did for her works. Her self doubt was a result of her thoughts on other successful women and how she compared herself to them.

Women who looks very down about her job, feeling like a fraud

Due to the research started by Clance and Young, we now recognise this learned behaviour to be Imposter Syndrome.

Do I Suffer From Imposter Syndrome?

  1. Feeling like an ‘imposter’ or actor in your occupation/everyday roles
  2. Thinking that the people around you are very different from yourself
  3. Comparing yourself to others unfairly
  4. Positive feedback and acknowledgement don’t make you feel any more confident in your abilities
  5. Fearing judgement/people realising you’re not good enough
  6. (As a result) You often stop your self contributing ideas/thoughts
  7. Do not volunteer yourself for tasks/promotions/job vacancies
  8. Have a negative view of your abilities but a very positive outlook about your peers’ abilities
  9. Feeling that you don’t deserve accolades/ other people deserve them more than you
  10. Failing to see how anyone else could feel this way/ feeling alone in your woes

What Causes Such Fraudulent Feelings?

How does this happen? Well, a hugely unhelpful picture of what we think other people are like could be to blame. Asa primary human condition, we know ourselves internally — how we feel and think. However, we only know others from the outside; we have no idea how they’re thinking or feeling. A sufferer assumes that no other individual thinks the way that they do and therefore, they must be right in their worries.

For example, if we think of Royalty or our favourite celebrity, we believe that they are so far removed from ourselves that they couldn’t possibly feel similar feelings of inadequacy because they’re so obviously talented.

young girl looking sad due to imposter-like feelings

Some say that Imposter Syndrome originates during childhood. A particular child will feel very far removed from the older individuals around them, such as their parents, siblings, aunts or uncles. These feelings stem from an admiration for particular talents or activities that the child cannot yet perform. This admiration then transpires into the child feeling distant, as though other people are not like them. For example, to a 4-year- old child, it is tough to imagine their mother at the age of 4 learning how to do mundane tasks for the first time.

This gulf in status appears unbreachable and only further implies feeling different to other people.

Can I Conquer Imposter Syndrome?

How Can I Shake the Feeling?

A professional lady attempting to conquer her imposter syndrome

1) Take Note of Positive Feedback

For this reason, it is a great idea to physically note positive feedback. Whether this is daily, weekly or five highlights of your month, starting a list can help to provide evidence for your abilities. This way, when you’re next feeling fraudulent, you can refer to this list and be sure of your skills. Small actions like this are the basis for conquering your imposter syndrome.

2) Communication is Key

One of the critical factors of Imposter Syndrome is feeling like you’re suffering alone. Usually, sufferers are reluctant to share how they’re feeling for fear of judgement, being correct in their worries, and so on. But actually, sharing these concerns can help both you and your listener.

For example, if you share that you feel as though you don’t deserve such acknowledgements, or that you’re feeling a little vulnerable in your abilities, you will most likely be met with positive reinforcement. Something you can note down on your list for the next time you’re feeling particularly fraudulent!

On the other hand, you may also find that you’re not alone in your thought process. By acknowledging that other people suffer from the same thoughts as you, you are helping to conquer your Imposter Syndrome as the ability of your peers no longer seem better or so far removed from yours.

For example, take someone you admire. A boss, a colleague, someone who you think has a better set of skills than your self. Now imagine them telling you that they sometimes feel inadequate. Provides some relief, right?

3) Ignorance is Not Bliss

Imposter Syndrome sufferers often hold the talents and opinions of their peers above their own. They do not believe (or are not yet aware) that it is merely part of human nature to feel this way about the people around us.

As mentioned above, we only know our interior, how we feel why we act a certain way. We, therefore, do not see the interior of another individual unless they tell us. By comparing our inner feelings to the exterior of others, we are drawing unfair and inaccurate conclusions on our self.

Indeed, by realising that what we see on the surface isn’t always the reality of what other people are feeling, it can help to alleviate feelings of inadequacy, helping to conquer your Imposter Syndrome. Recognising that sometimes we all feel a little fraudulent in our talents, that’s how we learn new skills.

Lady looking happy ofter conquering her imposter syndrome

From Imposter to Prosper!

Usually, it means you’re very analytical. Being self-critical is vital for a wide variety of career paths. It’s also a great way to inform others that you look at situations closely, a very reliable asset and transferable skill!

Want more help and advice? Check out our previous post tackling the fear of talking on the phone. Additionally, the Ted Talks space is a beneficial source for self-motivation and self-help.

Got an issue you want to cover in our next blog? Leave us a comment below to let us know!



Hi there! I’m Rachael, Marketing Manager at Adria Solutions Ltd. Read more about me here:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store