Human Resources

Faking it: The truth about impostor syndrome

Faking it: The truth about impostor syndrome

Last updated date: 07/01/2024

Although it’s not an actual medical disorder, impostor syndrome is real. Seven in 10 people experience impostor syndrome at one time or another. It affects minority groups, creatives, high achievers, and students more than others.

What is impostor syndrome?

Think of it as a blind spot for your self-esteem and self-confidence. Even if your diploma says magna cum laude, you don’t feel qualified. When you smash your annual performance targets, you think it’s just good luck. Or, you give all the credit to your great team. Impostor syndrome makes you overlook, discredit, and underestimate your contributions and talents.

Strike back!

Defeating impostor syndrome may take time, but it can be done! Try these exercises:

  • Write down your most meaningful accomplishment. Include at least three things you did to achieve it. Post it on your bathroom mirror, at your desk, or in your car, and revisit it when you need a boost.
  • Practice positive self-talk:“I’m proud of myself,” or “I did it!” Give yourself permission to soak in those good feelings.
  • Collect compliments and praise in a folder on your desktop or in your email inbox. Look through your positive feedback to bolster your self-confidence when self-doubt and negative thoughts creep in.
  • Join forces with others. Talk about your impostor syndrome with a coworker, friend, or mentor. You might be surprised to find how many people you admire have felt the same way about themselves.

Why does it matter?

Impostor syndrome robs you of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. If you start to believe it, you might talk yourself out of applying for a promotion, taking a stretch assignment, or pursing your big dream.

The next time impostor syndrome strikes, don’t let it define you. You can push past it. When you believe in yourself, you’re taking a step closer to bringing your dreams to life.

“A Psychologist Explains How to Deal With Impostor Syndrome,” Cleveland Clinic (health.clevenlandclinic.org), February 24, 2021
“Impostor Syndrome,” Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com)
“How to Overcome ‘Impostor Syndrome’,” New York Times (nytimes.com)