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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome, that sense of being a fraud. That you’ll be found out. That accomplishments are not about what you have done, but down to luck, good timing and external influences.

Around 70% of us suffer from this psychological phenomenon and whilst there is a personality trait link, often the ground work for imposter syndrome is laid down early in our lives – pressure from parents, academic achievement, workplace performance and competitive environments, they all play a part in building the story. The result of course is to hold us in place, pulling us back from potential growth, not attempting that promotion / presentation / exam


Overcoming imposter syndrome means changing our self-story and our beliefs about ourselves. The first step is to acknowledge your inner voice. That critic that sits between your ears and gnaws away at your confidence. Notice what you say to yourself when you consider that next step that could lead to greater things. Simply notice. Thoughts are not facts, until we play them out, so simply noticing them allows us to build our levels of self-awareness.

The next step is to check the validity of your thoughts. If you were hearing a friend talk to themselves this way about this exact same situation, what would you be saying to them? Would you tell them not to bother, that they weren’t good enough? Or, would you encourage them, point out their strengths? Treat yourself the same way you would a friend.

Look at the cost of not taking that opportunity, that step towards growth and achievement. A good way to frame this in your mind is to ask yourself ‘what will I loose if  I don’t do XYZ? ‘ If you did XYZ, how might that help others?

When you achieve a goal it is important to acknowledge how and why you got there. Those with imposter syndrome will attribute success to external forces. ‘I passed that exam because the questions must have been easier this year’. ‘I’ve been offered that promotion because no one else was available’. But, notice the effort you have put in. If we don’t notice our strengths, how do we expect others to?

It is natural to compare ourselves to others. We can look to others for learning, to admire and respect their achievements But, we need to measure our own achievements and know when good enough is exactly that.

Combatting imposter syndrome is not about becoming arrogant or narcissistic. It is about being comfortable with who we are, what we can do and how we can keep learning and growing. None of us can do everything but we all have our abilities and strengths to share.