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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like a fraud or worry people may “find you out” as not being what you present yourself to be?  Well, you might struggle with imposter syndrome.  And you are not alone as 65% of professionals experience this phenomenon.  Let’s look at this unique phenomenon and where it comes from, how it presents itself and, most importantly, what you can do about it!


Imposter syndrome is a common psychological condition in which people find themselves doubting their own abilities and accomplishments and often fear being found out as a fraud.  Often times, those with imposter syndrome believe they are undeserving of their success or attribute it to external factors, rather than their own capabilities.  Surprisingly, imposter syndrome is actually very common among high-achieving individuals and can take a toll on their mental health.


While there is no clear and direct cause of imposter syndrome. There are several common factors that contribute to it’s development. They include the following:

  • High Expectations: those with high expectations of themselves or perfectionistic tendencies seems to be more susceptible to developing imposter syndrome.
  • Social Pressure: Pressure from other individuals, including family members, friends, and colleagues can create imposter syndrome. It can also come from repeatedly being told you are intelligent and can do anything; it can create pressure to live up to those expectations.
  • Poor Support System: Not having a lot of social support can make individuals more vulnerable to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, setting the stage for imposter syndrome.
  • History: Previous experiences of criticism and/or failure can set people up to be more sensitive to criticism, leading to the self-doubt that often exists with imposter syndrome.


So, how exactly does imposter syndrome manifest?  It can be experienced by different people in many different ways.  But here are some common examples of what you might see?

  • Constant self-doubt: it is incredibly common to see people with imposter syndrome always doubting their abilities and questioning whether that are competent or deserving. They often attribute successes externally, to factors like luck or success, instead of crediting themselves.
  • Feeling like a fraud: Individuals with imposter syndrome often feel like they are “pretending” or behaving like someone they are not.  They feel being exposed as a fraud or other people finding out they are “pretending.”
  • Avoiding Opportunities: Those with imposter syndrome often avoid new opportunities or challenges for fear of exposure and/or failure.  They often fear they will not people to meet expectations or responsibilities associated with new opportunities.
  • Ignoring Evidence of Capabilities: It is quite common for people with imposter syndrome to dismiss evidence of their skills and talents and instead hyperfocus on evidence that supports their feeling like a fraud.


So, you can clearly see how imposter syndrome can have a significant impact on our lives and our ability to move forward and advance in numerous different ways.  So, it’s important to work through it and move yourself past those limitations.  Here are some ways to do that:

  1. GET HELP!  Help can take many different forms including friends, family, mentors, or therapists and coaches.  It can be incredibly valuable to have people in your life that provide encouragement, validation, and a truly accurate perspective of your capabilities to help you work through your self-doubt and build your self-confidence.
  2. CHALLENGE YOUR AUTOMATIC THOUGHTS.   Our thoughts are so powerful and we often focus only on our weaknesses or insecurities.  But challenging that automatic mode of thinking by forcing ourselves to focus on our strengths and accomplishments can help us see ourselves in a much more positive light and truly build our confidence.
  3. SET REALISTIC GOALS.  Set goals that are achievable and reasonable so you allow yourself to hit them successfully and build momentum to keep moving yourself forward.  This also allows you to feel more in control of your success and gives you opportunities to celebrate your successes at every step.
  4. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE.  Taking care of yourself, physical, mentally, and environmentally can be critical for everyone to make change and challenge their old patterns and habits.  Put time and energy into sleep, exercise, nutrition, and doing things that allow you to release stress and feel relaxed.
  5. SOLICIT FEEDBACK.  Feedback can be a great tool to get a more realistic perspective on both your strengths and your weaknesses.  Ensure that you look at criticism constructively, as an opportunity to improve and grow, rather than a statement about your overall value.
  6. GET HELP OVERCOMING SELF-SABOTAGE!  Yest Imposter Syndrome is a common form of self-sabotage!  And you can overcome it.  Check out my Sabotage Warrior Coaching Program to learn more.

Overcoming imposter syndrome can take time and effort but it is a journey that is well worth taking as it move you closer to all of your goals and dreams!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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