How to Get Over Impostor Syndrome

When you’re your own worst enemy.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome was first described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD in the 1978. In their paper, they 150 high achieving women that…

“despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the impostor phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”

They define Impostor Syndrome is defined as:

  • Believing that you are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.
  • Contradicting evidence and accomplishments that show that you are competent.
  • Constantly fearing that someone will find out you’re not intelligent or capable.

What does Impostor Syndrome do?

When given a task, Impostors tend to work unnecessarily long on it or leave it till the last minute. When the task is completed successfully, they credit having worked harder than others or being lucky.

Impostors never think, ‘I succeeded because I’m good at this.’ They think ‘I got this job because they desperately needed someone.’ or ‘I did well on this paper because I spent hours and hours on it.’

This line of thinking is dangerous because overtime, you won’t feel confident about any new tasks, even if you’re overqualified for it.

“Impostors may be less likely to achieve their potential because their fears prevent them from aiming as high as their potential.”

Clance and Imes describe a woman ‘with two master’s degrees, a Ph.D., and numerous publications to her credit [that] considered herself unqualified to teach remedial college classes in her field.

Your self-doubt stops yourself from going for opportunities that you’re totally are capable of achieving.

What can we do about it?

1. Talk to someone

We all need a friend like Leslie Knope

Don’t stay silent and get lost in your own thoughts. Talk to a trusted friend, mentor, family members… whoever you can share your doubts with.

Most of the time, they’ll tell you how ridiculous you’re being and how great you are. (If they don’t, you don’t need them in your life😤)

It will also make you realize you’re not alone. We all feel like this one time or another.

2. Make an effort to internalize compliments

Make a mental note of how you accept positive feedback about your competency. Do you immediately reject it and shy away?

If you deny them, experiment with doing the opposite. Listen, take in the positive response and to get as much nourishment as possible out of it.

3. Be good to yourself

Recently, my self-confidence reached an all time low as I spent 3 months looking for a job. I was FaceTiming with my mom and she noticed this without me saying anything (moms being moms). She told me in her usual pessimistic but loving way that,

‘There are going to be so many people in your life that will tell you you can’t do something or that you’re not good enough. You don’t need to be one of them.”

And it’s true. We all need to be our own advocates, our own #1 fans because if we don’t believe we deserve our own accomplishments, who will?