What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a feeling you experience when you think you’re unqualified and incompetent for a job or task. The person who feels this way may have doubts about their skills, talents, and abilities. They may also have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as fraud.

Imposter syndrome is most commonly experienced in the workplace, and people often feel as though they are underqualified for the job and lack the skills to do the work correctly. They may question why they were hired in the first place and question whether they can truly do their work.

Simply put, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are a phony or imposter in some area of your life despite being qualified and good at that activity. In other words, you feel out of place.

What Does Imposter Syndrome Look Like?

  • Thinking that your success is due to luck or some other reason
  • Fear of being exposed or seen as a fraud
  • Feeling that working to an extreme is the only way to be successful
  • Feeling unworthy of your achievements
  • Devaluing achievements
  • Avoiding reaching attainable goals

The 5 Types of Imposter Syndromes

  • The Perfectionist: The perfectionist believes their work needs to be done absolutely perfectly with zero errors. They typically hold themselves to a very high standard and will kick themselves if they make even a small mistake. 
  • The Natural Genius: This person may feel like a fraud because they don’t have a natural talent for a task. They believe that they need to be naturally talented at everything they do to be successful. And if they do not get something on their first try they are like an imposter. 
  • The Superhero: The superhero person often believes that for them to be successful at their job they need to be the hardest working person. If they are not working as hard as possible at their job, they feel like an imposter or a fraud. These individuals will often take on more tasks than they can handle, have a hard time saying no, work too much overtime, and neglect their personal life to devote more time to work.
  • The Soloist: This individual feels as though asking for help on a task they do not understand makes them a fraud. They feel as though they must complete tasks all on their own and they refuse to ask for help.  
  • The Master: This individual feels as though their success is measured by how much they know or can do. They lose confidence and feel like a fraud if they are exposed as not knowing everything on a specific topic. These individuals will often avoid jobs and tasks if they do not meet every single requirement, they look for training, workshops, or courses that will help them improve their skills and qualifications, and they feel like they never know enough about a job or topic even if they have been in a role for a long time.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Imposter syndrome often involves lots of irrational thoughts and feelings. The first step is to acknowledge that the thoughts you are experiencing may be irrational and ask yourself why you think this way. Practice identifying when these thoughts come into your mind and interrupt them with positive opposite evidence.
  2. Challenge Your Thoughts: Challenge your thoughts and feelings about failure and feeling like a fraud. Ask yourself what does failure look like? What does success look like? If there is a setback, is it a catastrophe, or an opportunity? Questioning your thoughts can help you assess if the thoughts you are experiencing are rational or irrational.
  3. Look at Others Around You: This is actually a really good way to overcome imposter syndrome, it helps you see that you’re not alone and others also make mistakes at work. There are others around you who are in the same situation as you.
  4. Don’t Compare Yourself: While it is okay to be aware of others around you, avoid comparing yourself and your skills to your peers. Everyone brings something different to the table and your success and abilities are not dependent on others.
  5. Acknowledge Your Success: Remember that you are where you are because someone recognized you have the potential, skills, and what it takes to succeed.
  6. Talk With a Therapist: Getting help from a mental help professional can help you further assess why you are experiencing these thoughts and help you create a strategy for overcoming them.

Final Thoughts

Impostor Syndrome is the uncomfortable feeling you experience when you think you’re unqualified and incompetent. It can be an internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. The person has doubts about their skills, talents, and abilities. They may be afraid of “putting their foot in their mouth” or not having what it takes to succeed. However, with the right help and mindset you can challenge these thoughts and realize your success. 

“Do your best to embrace the excitement that comes with not knowing what’s next, and remember that confidence and an open mind will always serve you better than insecurity and doubt.”, Hillary Clinton, writing to her teenage self about imposter syndrome.”

PsyMood is a digital tool designed to help you find the support you need in the language that you are most comfortable with. PsyMood considers cultural background, geographical location, interests, and personal needs, amongst other factors, to pair you with service providers for either online or in-person therapy sessions.