5 Things You Can Do To Stop Feeling Like An Imposter

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Do you tend to attribute your success to “getting lucky” while attributing the success of your peers to their hard work? Are you a high- performing perfectionist who feels one step shy of total failure?

If so, you might have “imposter syndrome,” a mindset characterized by a belief that the good work you output happens by chance and that you will one day be “found out” and uncovered as an imposter. This has also been called “the imposter phenomenon” more broadly. It was once thought that more women than men struggled with this issue, but it has been discovered that people across sexes and from all sorts of demographics experience this, even though members of minority groups are more susceptible.

Imposter syndrome can feel even more maddening when we are aware that we have it, but still can’t loosen its grip on our thinking. Acclaimed musician Amanda Palmer wrote vividly about her imposter syndrome, describing an imaginary “Fraud Police” whom she anticipated would show up and accuse her of not knowing what she was doing. Her husband, beloved author Neil Gaiman also publicly struggled with imposter syndrome and told a wonderful story about a meeting with astronaut Neil Armstrong that helped give him perspective on the issue.

Those of us with imposter syndrome tend to suffer quietly. We are so afraid of being discovered as inadequate that we keep our fears to ourselves. However, some have argued that because imposter syndrome is so common it may simply be a natural consequence of experiencing success.

So, now that we know that there is an alternative to living wracked with anxiety over our performance, what can we do to improve our confidence?

1. Keep Track of Accomplishments

Something I’ve personally practiced to avoid feeling like an imposter is to write down my accomplishments—no matter how big or small—for the day or the week. They could be as monumental as finishing major exams or getting a new job or as minuscule as sweeping the kitchen or bathing my dog.

2. Don’t Minimize

One important caveat is that I don’t allow myself to minimise any accomplishments or include any things in my lists that I wish I could’ve also done. Being able to look back on my journal and see the incremental progress I’ve made in life helps me to acknowledge that I’m doing more than standing still in one painful spot.

3. Watch Your Filter

Some of us have a mental “filter” that causes us to internalise criticism and brush aside praise. It’s important to make sure that we aren’t unfairly critical of ourselves while choosing to gloss over any awards, compliments, or honours that we receive. It’s easy to feel upset over our mistakes, but it’s also important to acknowledge everything that we do well.

4. Talk to Someone

When we feel fearful or uncertain, it can be helpful to talk to someone we trust about our concerns. This could be a mentor, a peer, or a friend or family member. Chances are, they will have helpful advice to offer us and may even admit to us that they also struggle with a lack of confidence. When we don’t talk about our negative emotions, they can tend to fester so it’s very important to share how we are feeling.

5. Realize that You’re Not Alone

It is estimated that up to 82% of professionals experience some degree of imposter syndrome. This means that most people who become successful do not feel as if they deserve their success. Or are afraid that they will not be able to maintain their level of success. That means there are a lot of us going about with an air of confidence that we don’t feel. Welcome to the club.

The good news is, that it’s possible to improve the way we see ourselves. We can learn to trust ourselves and to acknowledge that even though we sometimes falter. There are many things we do with excellence. We can start keeping a record of those things and learning to accept it when others reward us for them. Lastly, we can feel more confident in sharing our insecurities with others, knowing that it is an opportunity for all of us to feel less alone.

As you’ve probably realised after reading this post, it wasn’t written by me but rather the lovely Melodi Umoh. She is a fellow blogger on WordPress and we recently decided to collaborate together. As you may have noticed, I rarely do collaborations. But I found “Imposter Syndrome” very fascinating. So I was excited to write about it as well as read her take on it.

I really hope you enjoyed her writing and if you would like to read the post I wrote on imposter syndrome for her blog please click here. I would so appreciate it if you took a minute to go over to her site and read it!

Ps: This post is slightly earlier than usual since it’s a collaboration. We decided to post at a time that would be good for both of us.

For similar posts please click here.

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69 thoughts on “5 Things You Can Do To Stop Feeling Like An Imposter

  1. Very good post about imposter syndrome on both blog sites. It is easy to feel like an imposter while writing about something when the lack of self-confidence isn’t there. I still feel like my work isn’t as good as some others I read.

  2. Years ago, I was a saleswoman and I had no idea what I was selling. I just memorized the companies’ description and parroting it to whoever would listen. I had a serious mortal fear of being laughed at for knowing nothing about what I was selling. Also I was also forced to build up rapport with prospective buyers, which was not suitable to my shy nature–another layer of imposter. LOL. It was an interesting and twisted job.

    1. Wow that must have been a tough job. I feel like that too if I talk about things I don’t know much about. It’s honesty really nerve-racking.

      1. I felt very guilty about it, but I had two peers at the time and they could parrot the material so much better than I did without feeling so guilty or at least they didn’t express the doubts and guilt as I did. LOL. Life could be twisted like that. And out prospective clients never suspected that we were just imposters. Or probably they were too polite to point it out.

    1. I read both posts, but either WordPress or my browser must be glitching, because it won’t let me comment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed both posts and learned from them.

  3. Thanks for sharing Pooja! Impostor Syndrome can definitely be annoying, so I’ll definitely try and track my accomplishments! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. I tried to comment on your blog on her site, and it was showing an error (not moderation). Anyway, I love your blog.
      It guided me and taught me something new. I have heard about Imposter syndrome before, but never knew much about this. These 2 blogs provided great knowledge.
      Your blog is beautifully written, It’s very assuring and satisfying to read.
      Kindly keep providing such amazing content. Happy weekend

      1. Yeah there seems to be an issue with her comments section and I have already informed her about it so hopefully it’s fixed soon.

        Thanks so much, I’m really glad these posts taught you something because that’s what I’m usually going for with mental health posts. Happy weekend to you too!

        1. Also, I really like your writing style.
          After reading this blog. I felt this is bit different. Then you said it’s a collaboration. 😅
          Your writing style is very friendly (if you know what I mean)
          It’s very satisfying and smooth. A lot of my blogs are actually inspired from your style. Although, I do mix my own style. It’s your reassuring tone.

          1. Oh haha thank you so much, that’s such a huge compliment. I always try to make it so that it feels more like a conversation with a friend than reading an article. Glad it’s coming off that way too. 😊

  4. This is like such a completely new concept for me. I never knew people voiced out stuff like this and that this condition could actually be so serious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I started doing number one a year or so ago and it’s had such a positive impact on how I view myself in relation to my career. It took a little getting used to as at first it felt I may be coming across as big headed but it really improved my self confidence.

    I loved reading this post.

  6. This is a really good article. I don’t believe I suffer with imposter syndrome, I do struggle with self-confidence. I’ve recently started writing down the things that I accomplish such as sweeping the floor or doing well on a project. I have learned humility is not a one-way street… it’s accepting and admitting your flaws but it’s also accepting and admitting your strengths. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I’m glad you’ve been working on your self-confidence issues and you’re absolutely right about admitting your strengths too. It’s important to acknowledge our accomplishments too.

  7. I just save this post. Never seen one on this subject. Because of identity issues (NOT GENDER ISSUES) from growing up as I did, I often struggle with this.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that and I hope these tips help you with it. Imposter Syndrome isn’t very often talked about but research shows that quite a large number of people suffer from it.

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