A Guide to Impostor Syndrome—and Overcoming It
If you’re a high performer who’s constantly feeling self-doubt about your success, you may have impostor syndrome. So how can you overcome it?
June 2, 2023
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I’m a fake”, “I don’t deserve to be here”, or “I’m not smart enough to be here”?
If so, you’re hardly alone! Such thoughts are common and, when persistent, are often described as impostor syndrome (IS).
When someone has impostor syndrome, they experience repeated feelings or thoughts that they are incompetent or not good enough, despite evidence to the contrary.
These beliefs often have roots in someone’s personal history and tend to play out in work, academic, and other high-pressure settings. Unaddressed, they can keep people from enjoying their successes and living life to its full potential.
In the past few decades, the mental health field has paid more attention to impostor syndrome.
If you are struggling with feelings of unworthiness, you should know that, while such feelings are often deeply ingrained, they can be overcome.
Keep Reading To Learn
- What you should know about impostor syndrome
- How impostor syndrome can impact our lives
- Tips for overcoming impostor syndrome
Just What Is Impostor Syndrome?
The concept of impostor syndrome was first explored by researchers Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Ament Imes in 1978. In what they termed “the impostor phenomenon,” Clance and Imes observed the experiences of 150 women who earned PhDs, were respected professionals in their fields, or were students recognized for their academic excellence.
Despite success or praise from others, these women continued to believe they were not bright, had achieved their success from sheer luck, and that they had managed to fool everyone regarding their intelligence and capability.
Clance and Imes focused on the experiences of women. They attributed impostor syndrome (often also referenced as imposter syndrome), among other factors, to messages from society that women did not belong in powerful or lofty positions.
Women remain affected by impostor syndrome, but we now know that impostor syndrome can be experienced by different genders, in different settings, and it can manifest in various ways.
Here are some examples:
- Employees who do not think they deserve a raise or promotion despite their years of service and success
- Students who feel out of place among their classmates even though their test scores and grades are as good as or better than their peers
- Friends who feel undeserving of acceptance and fear that they are going to be “found out”