Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Maggie Morrow Award Winning Therapist
Author: Maggie Morrow, Award Winning Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Life Coach
Last updated: 12th July 2021

worried businesswoman sitting on bench in park

Do you feel like you’ve fooled others about your accomplishments and it’s only a matter of time before you’re exposed as a fraud? Perhaps your success is all down to “luck” and you don’t really deserve it? Maybe you’ve felt like you’re pretending to be an adult who is capable of raising a child or buying a home, but really you’re only faking it.

Many experience self-doubt, but if you regularly and persistently have a fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, despite evidence to the contrary such as your education, experience and accomplishments, imposter syndrome might be lurking.

To reduce or counter these feelings, you might end up working harder, holding yourself to even higher standards, eventually risking burnout.

As KlearMinds Director, Maggie Morrow puts it:-

“You have a fear that the people around you are going to realise that you’re not competent at what you do and expose you as a fraud”.

So although colleagues and friends may be praising you, you write off your successes and put them down to timing and/or luck. You don’t believe you’ve earned them and you fear others will eventually realise this too.

Imposter Syndrome can be seen at:

  • Work – any success is attributed to “luck” rather than ability and working hard. You may also feel pressure to over work in your attempts to achieve the impossible.
  • Home – feeling uncertain, inexperienced and totally unprepared for certain situations, such as parenting. It may lead to a reluctance in making decisions for fear of messing up.
  • School – students may hold back and avoid speaking up for fear that others will see they are ignorant.
  • Relationships – some may feel unworthy of another’s affection and that their partner will discover how ordinary they are.

This is exhausting – living in fear of being exposed or discovered as a fraud will ensure that high levels of anxiety become the norm.

So what can we do to overcome imposter syndrome:-

  • Recognise when you’re experiencing imposter feelings. These are feelings, not facts. Just because you feel these feelings doesn’t mean they’re true. Remind yourself that you’re competent and often do know what you’re talking about.
  • Note your accomplishments. When you’re having imposter moments, remind yourself of what you’ve achieved. Look at the card that your child made you which told you what a wonderful parent you are; revisit the email that your boss sent you thanking you for your excellent work.
  • Avoid and Stop Comparing. Look at your own achievements rather than comparing with others. Social Media means we are surrounded by other people’s lives and their achievements. Don’t go there.
  • Talk to Others. Talking to somebody who knows you can offer support. They can help normalise your feelings and confirm your achievements.
  • Talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you recognise and work through these feelings and offer tips and techniques for managing them.

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