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Overcome Imposter Syndrome: Tips for Self-Confidence

Tips to overcome imposter syndrome

“I do not deserve my success.”

“Did I really win the award on my own merit? Maybe it was a fluke or a mistake.”

“I am just a fraud…”

Do such thoughts come to you often that make you question your past achievements? Does your inner critic flare up at every milestone you reach, wondering if it was just luck and not what you earned?

Such feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and other negative thoughts are signs of underlying mental health issues. If the statements here seem familiar to you, you are experiencing imposter syndrome, in all likelihood.

Read on to know more about this, what causes such negative emotions, and get the right tips to overcome imposter syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome- A Brief Introduction

When we are describing imposter syndrome, calling it a disease or mental health condition is inaccurate. It is more of a psychological experience that some people go through where they experience extreme levels of self-doubt.

People with imposter syndrome feel like they are incompetent compared to others and engage in constant negative self-talk. In fact, they develop a chronic habit of feeling like they are inadequate, which in turn deteriorates their mental health further.

In most cases, people experience this for a shorter period. However, in some cases, they may become chronically addicted to this type of internal monologue.

To elaborate, as you continue feeding your internal self-criticism constantly, you might start to avoid challenges. That will inevitably stop you from achieving proper self-growth. In the worst-case scenario, it might trigger more serious mental health issues, like anxiety or depression. So, you should take appropriate steps to build confidence in your abilities. But first, let’s know what to look out for.

Imposter Syndrome Symptoms to Look For

For people who experience imposter syndrome, some noticeable symptoms are common. Here are a few examples.

  • Fear of failure or worrying about being seen as one.
  • A feeling of unworthiness of affection or attention.
  • Downplaying your accomplishments all the time.
  • Not believing that you earned your successes or convinced that they succeeded only out of dumb luck.
  • Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and overworking to reach your set goals.

Causes of Imposter Syndrome

One can experience feelings of self-doubt and imposterism for a variety of internal and external factors. The following are some common causes.


People with controlling or overprotective parents are at a higher risk. Also, overachieving students may develop self-confidence issues.


Research suggests that people with highly neurotic tendencies are more at risk of developing such negative thoughts. Even people with low self-esteem or perfectionist tendencies are more likely to have bouts of self-doubt. Those with an insecure attachment style can experience this. For example, an anxiously attached person may feel undeserving of their success/affection and sometimes self-sabotage because of self-doubt.

Peer pressure:

Besides parents, the direct peer group of people can also (directly or indirectly) add to their low self-worth. For example, a person who is not on the same level as their classmates or colleagues may feel inadequate in comparison. The reason for the comparison can vary from person to person, from socioeconomic status to age difference.


People in competitive environments like different career fields or academia are also at high risk of experiencing imposter syndrome. In fact, 20% of students in universities experience this psychological occurrence.

Internet/social media:

In this digital age, people have higher exposure to influencers and celebrities. Even our regular acquaintances or old friends can publish their achievements and life stories on social media. As you go through such posts, you may feel anxious about your experiences and compare yourself with them. Thereafter, this can trigger feelings of self-doubt.

The Varying Faces of Imposter Syndrome

There are different types in which people experience imposter syndrome. Here are the main categories, varying based on how they manifest themselves in a person or their causes.

  • Expert: These people experience self-doubt because they have not mastered their area of experience and are scared of being called out. Indeed, there is always something new to learn about any topic. However, these people feel less confident because they know they have not earned the “expert” status and are self-conscious about it.
  • Perfectionist: Perfectionists typically work extremely hard to achieve their main goal with their task to the best possible outcome. Anything less is not good enough. Given the harsh standards they set for themselves, some people with perfectionism always fear they could do better than what they already delivered. So, if they get praise for whatever they achieve, these people feel like they did not deserve it.
  • Natural Genius: Some people feel like imposters due to their deep-rooted self-esteem issues. They think that they are not naturally competent because they did not master something instantly.
  • Superperson: People dealing with this version of imposter syndrome have an intense level of pressure on themselves. They typically believe that they are frauds if they do not reach the highest achievement level in their area of expertise.
  • Soloist: Some people feel like a fraud when they achieve something with another person’s support. Even if they did the bulk of their task, they feel that they don’t deserve any praise and doubt their own skills.

Who Does Imposter Syndrome Affect?

Anyone can develop this type of mindset, regardless of their lived reality. For example, let’s say one has accomplished a lot of accolades in their life, whether academically or in their career. Yet, the intense pressure to succeed constantly, whether self-imposed or otherwise, can grow seeds of self-doubt in them.

Regardless of how much they progress in their field, they become overly critical of themselves and worry about being discovered as a fraud. If you or a loved one is dealing with such feelings, there are ways you can overcome self-doubt.

As per experts, 70% of people feel like they are a fraud at least once in their lives. In a general context, different people can experience imposter syndrome. More commonly, minority groups and women notice these outward signs. Besides that, high-achievers, hardworking individuals, and perfectionists are also susceptible to this type of negative thinking pattern. For example, lawyers, doctors, celebrities, and academics.

Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Yes, this type of psychological occurrence is very common, but there are ways to overcome self-doubt. You can practice self-care or take decisive steps in your life to overcome your deep-rooted insecurities. Here are some of the best tips.

Reframe your thought process

The core problem of self-doubt starts within yourself, whether from external factors or internal fear. So, the first step you should take is to rewire your thought process as much as possible.

For example, let’s say your automatic response when you achieve a new success or get praise is guilt. You feel that you do not deserve the accolades since you did not work hard enough. Instead of doing that, take a second and analyze your thoughts. Why do you feel this way? Does it hold merit in reality?

Carefully and precisely list out what steps you took to complete your task. Imagine if someone else did the same things as you if they were given the same assignment. Will they deserve praise for the same outcome? When you review everything with a new mindset, you will overcome self-doubt.

Of course, you can change your entire thought process immediately, so give yourself grace here. Take time to slowly shift your thinking pattern.

In fact, you can prepare an achievements list that you can refer to whenever needed. “Find ways to appreciate your own efforts and have constant reminders of the great things you contribute. When you do, imposter syndrome disappears pretty quickly”, says Alli Hill, founder and director of Fleurish Freelance.

Celebrate your success

People dealing with imposter syndrome have a natural inclination to put down all their achievements as flukes or wrong. You should actively resist this. Instead, celebrate any success you achieve, whether small or big. In fact, record all your achievements in a journal for positive feedback.

“By regularly reviewing this record, it will remind you of your capabilities and the value you bring to your work”, says Bayu Prihandito, psychology consultant at Life Architekture. “It serves as tangible evidence against feeling like an imposter, helping you to rebuild confidence in your skills and achievements.”

Take part in therapeutic programs

You can take part in therapeutic programs to help you overcome imposter syndrome. This can work in different ways for everyone.

For some, taking part in a retreat or trip helps them relax their mind and build confidence. Traveling the world or seeing other perspectives can sometimes help you reflect on your feelings and develop a sense of fulfillment. For others, MBCT or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a good option.

Adopt the method that you find more suitable to your taste and circumstances, or both.

Talk out your feelings

You can talk to a mental health professional to help you uncover your internal problems and triggers. Then, with their support, you can map out a healthier way to deal with your emotions and self-critical thoughts.

Also, you should surround yourself with supportive people who you can talk to about your feelings of self-doubt whenever. Join a support group to meet people you can relate to and communicate openly about your experience. Often, hearing another person’s perspective can drown out negative thoughts more effectively.


Indeed, imposter syndrome is a psychological experience that can happen to anybody at any time. You should take time to understand the main cause of it.

Moreover, get professional help to work on your overall mental health, as underlying issues can further trigger these thoughts. Regardless of the intensity, you can overcome imposter-like feelings with consistent effort. Depend on the supportive people in your life and practice self-care steps to build confidence with time.

SC Demo Author image Published by Admin, On Mar 08, 2024