How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Impostor syndrome appears when you think that the successes that you've been obtaining throughout your life are the product of luck. However, you can get over it.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Last update: 24 September, 2021

Do you know what imposter syndrome is? We explain it in this article. We also give you some tips for helping to overcome it. Imposter syndrome means you don’t feel as if your life is your own and that your achievements don’t depend on you but are down to luck. Furthermore, that you don’t deserve to be successful

Therefore if you feel like this, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. If this is the case, the most important thing is to properly identify it so you can then start to fight it. In this article, we give you some helpful hints for doing this, based on personal reflection.

Imposter syndrome

Pauline Rose Clance first identified imposter syndrome in 1993 in her research paper. 

This syndrome characterizes the kinds of people who continually feel, that when they achieve success in their work or academic environment, they’ve just had “a stroke of luck”. Indeed, they believe that everything they achieve in their life doesn’t depend on their abilities and efforts at all, but on luck. They also have the feeling that they don’t deserve what they have and, in a way, that their life doesn’t belong to them. It’s as if they’re impostors in their own life, hence the name of the syndrome.

The consequences of this syndrome are undeniable, since they place the person in an almost permanent state of learned helplessness ( “I can’t do anything to change my situation” ), even if, in reality, they’re living in a good situation.

Sad woman thinking

How to overcome impostor syndrome

Do you feel like you might be suffering from this syndrome? If so, here are seven helpful tips.

1. Identify yourself with the syndrome (or not)

The first step is to determine whether or not you identify as having the syndrome. Do you really feel that you’re not worthy of your successes? Or, do you attribute them to luck, chance, or other variables, and not yourself?

It’s important to analyze your personal situation. In fact, you need to observe your internal dialogue and how you treat yourself. If you really feel like you might be suffering from it, move on to the next tip.

2. Acknowledge your own emotions

Another step in overcoming impostor syndrome is to acknowledge your own emotions. Identify them, observe them, accept them and, above all, allow yourself to feel them.

You need to recognize that perhaps you’re self-limiting yourself. In fact, not recognizing your own abilities has a series of emotional effects. For example, frustration, sadness, helplessness, etc.

3. Analyze where your achievements come from

Look at your achievements and ask yourself where they really come from. Have the courage to question your old beliefs, your fixed ideas… Has everything you’ve achieved really happened due to luck?

Try doing a probability exercise: what’s the real probability that EVERYTHING you’ve achieved has been down to luck? To what extent does luck influence your life and your achievements?

5. Observe your fears

Analyze your own fears. Ask yourself: what are you really afraid of? Standing out? Being a disappointment?  If so, to whom? Or, are you afraid of failing?

Many times, behind the fear of standing out,  is a fear of not being enough. Of being an impostor in your own life.

6. Take care of your internal dialogue

Internal dialogue is extremely important for your well-being and in defining your self-concept. In fact, it reinforces your previously established ideas and leads you to others. All of them have an impact on your emotions and behaviors.

Therefore, check your internal dialogue (what you say to yourself). How do you talk to yourself? Do you do it with love? What’s the first thing you say to yourself when you achieve a goal?

Becoming aware of all this will help you little by little to overcome impostor syndrome. Because you’ll begin to take care of the way you speak to yourself and understand what emotions it leads you towards.

7. Accept yourself

It’s not easy to accept yourself, because that implies knowing yourself and, sometimes, that’s scary. This is why it’s important to cultivate self-knowledge and accept yourself. The latter brings you closer to also accepting your deficiencies and flaws. Then, you’re able to recognize them and become aware of them.

What does this have to do with overcoming impostor syndrome? Well, in order to “overcome” certain characteristics that define you or the ways in which you approach or interpret your experiences, you have to first accept that they’re there. In this way, you bring them to the surface. Consequently, in a certain way, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to modify and change them.

Woman looking at reflection in mirror

How do you start working on imposter syndrome?

If you think you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, the first step is to discover if you really do have the condition. The acceptance of emotions (and oneself) is essential here. For this reason, we encourage you to observe your emotions and your behavior, and to let yourself be guided by intuition.

Above all, begin to value yourself. You’ll see how, if you do it, little by little, you’ll remove this syndrome from your life. Consequently, you’ll end up feeling as if you’re the protagonist of your own life. Furthermore, you’ll feel that it’s a life that you deserve, with all its ups and downs.

“Perfection is impossible. But if we aspire to it we can achieve excellence.”

—Vince Lombardi-

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  • Valerie, Y. (2013). The secret thoughts of successful women : why capable people suffer from the impostor syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it. Crown Business. ISBN 978-0-307-45273-3OCLC 869741509.
  • Zubillaga, K. (2020). Síndrome del impostor, regulación emocional y apoyo social percibido en adultos de CABA y Provincia de Buenos Aires. Editor Institucional: Universidad Argentina de la Empresa.