How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Published on October 26th, 2023

Updated on January 9th, 2024

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Imposter syndrome is an experience many people have, in which they feel like they are less competent at performing than they are. People who suffer from imposter syndrome may feel like a fraud, believe they are not as skilled at their job as people think, or that it is a matter of time before someone finds out that they are not as good at what they do as it may seem.

A common place where imposter syndrome can affect a person is at work. Many people who are highly capable of their job responsibilities feel insecure about their abilities and undeserving of the position they hold.

Why Is Imposter Syndrome Harmful?

Imposter syndrome causes a person to suffer from high anxiety and perfectionistic tendencies. To compensate for their perceived deficiencies, a person with imposter syndrome may put unreasonable pressure on themselves to over-perform. This is often due to feeling like they are not good enough, even if their output at work is exceeding expectations.

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Imposter syndrome causes high anxiety, difficulty managing stress, and burnout. It can also trigger a depressed mood and affect a person’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. That is why it helps to have ways to deal with imposter syndrome in different areas of your life. The following are tips for dealing with imposter syndrome:

Tips For Imposter Syndrome At Work

  1. Set Workplace Boundaries. A big source of stress associated with imposter syndrome at work is not having a proper work-life balance. The need to have things perfect can cause people with imposter syndrome to work longer days or be more available to others than they need to be, which impacts their ability to recover from work stress. Setting boundaries at work, like only working within your work hours, can help with managing stress that comes from imposter syndrome.
  2. Address Your Perfectionism. Perfectionists will never be able to be satisfied with their work. To produce a perfect product, they get hyper-focused on the perceived deficiencies and imperfections that others would not notice or be bothered by. This causes higher stress and poor time management skills. Learning how to manage your perfectionism can help you not only manage your time better but also build a tolerance for imperfections that others do not care about.
  3. Ask Questions. Nobody expects you to be perfect or to have all the answers. Even the most experienced professionals ask questions and rely on teamwork. If you don’t know the answers or are struggling, reach out for guidance from your team or superiors. This not only takes the pressure off of you to have it all figured out, but it also helps with building relationships within your office or network.
  4. Seek Feedback. Imposter syndrome can cause people to feel like they are an imposter getting away with going unnoticed for being an imposter in the workplace. A good way to challenge your imposter syndrome and take away the guesswork about how to maintain a good reputation in your office is to ask for feedback. Asking for feedback from a supervisor or manager can show motivation to continue to grow in your position. It also takes away the guesswork that comes from trying to figure out your areas of improvement or what you may be caught doing wrong.
  5. Build A Work-Life Balance. People with imposter syndrome often get consumed by their work. This causes their work-life balance to be off, which makes managing anxiety and stress very difficult, along with taking away from a meaningful quality of life. When life becomes work, you may find yourself feeling more depressed, irritable, and exhausted. Finding meaning outside of work, whether through friendships, family, or hobbies, gives your mind a break from stress at work, which can make the imposter syndrome ease off when not working.
  6. Ask For Support. Everyone gets overwhelmed and intimidated sometimes. Imposter syndrome is a common experience, and more people than you may realize are going through the same struggles. Asking for support is a great way to manage imposter syndrome because it offers an outside perspective that can help you keep your negative thoughts in check.
  7. Focus On Your Goals. Your career is supposed to serve you. Make sure that you are making your own professional goals a priority. This helps with maintaining a healthy perspective, and forces you to consider how your company serves you, not just how you serve your company.

Tips For Imposter Syndrome In Relationships

  1. Know Your Worth. A big challenge with imposter syndrome when it comes to love and relationships is feeling unworthy of the love you receive from your partner. This can happen for different reasons, like low self-esteem, a history of abusive relationships, or other mental health challenges. Knowing your worth and reminding yourself why you are worthy of love helps with the effects of imposter syndrome in relationships.
  2. Pace Yourself. Sometimes imposter syndrome can surface when a relationship is getting too intense too quickly. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the pace of the relationship, or like your partner is moving too fast and has too high expectations, pull in the reins and slow things down.
  3. Talk To Your Partner. Any trusting relationship requires open communication. If you are experiencing imposter syndrome in your relationship, you are feeling insecure with your partner. Talk to them about how you are feeling and your concerns about how you relate to your partner. They may be able to give some reassurance, and you can work with them to help you feel more confident in your relationship.
  4. Make Time For Friends And Family. When dealing with imposter syndrome with matters of love, it can help to be around healthy people who you know love and care about you. Being around friends and family who help you feel safe, protected, and valued can remind you of your worth and show you that you deserve to be loved, valued, respected, and treated properly in your relationship.
  5. Prioritize Your Needs. People with imposter syndrome tend to put their needs aside to meet the needs of others. This may be done as a means to alleviate the pressure to overcompensate for your perceived shortcomings but is not necessary and can do damage to the relationship in the long run. Ignoring or minimizing your needs causes misguided expectations and potential long-term resentments that could damage the relationship. Prioritize your needs and expectations because they build a foundation for healthy boundaries and communication, and ensure that you are treated in a way that makes you feel valued.
  6. Build Your Self-Esteem. imposter syndrome in relationships often stems from low self-esteem. To build your sense of worth in your relationship, work on improving your self-esteem by working on things that give you a sense of purpose. Find value in what you have to offer and do not discredit what good you provide to the relationship.
  7. Focus On Your Values. When you feel that you are not worthy in your relationship or that the relationship is too good to be true, work on combating the fears by focusing on building your personal and relationship values. This can help you feel like you are putting energy into building a strong foundation in your relationship, which can help with taking the pressure off of yourself.

Tips For Imposter Syndrome When Trying Something New

  1. Give It Time. Nobody has a natural talent when trying something new. Talent may begin with a spark, but it must be grown. Take your time and be patient with the process.
  2. Embrace Mistakes. Mistakes are bound to happen when trying something new. Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes, they are part of the learning process.
  3. Forgive Yourself. Getting discouraged is natural when trying something new, but beating yourself up can be counterproductive for your progress. Work on self-forgiveness when you are struggling, and remind yourself that learning is a process and that while you may be struggling, it does not mean that you have not already made progress in your desired skill set.
  4. Take Breaks When You Need. Learning a new skill can be emotional and exhausting, and trying to learn something when feeling fatigued, frustrated, or upset can prevent you from making progress. Take breaks when you need them and return to practicing when you are in a calmer, more relaxed, and energized state.
  5. Speak Kindly To Yourself. The way you treat yourself makes a difference when trying to achieve a goal. If you are beating yourself up or speaking unkindly to yourself, your motivation will be affected and you will feel discouraged. Work on reframing your negative thoughts to consider how hard you are working and remind yourself how learning something new can be challenging.
  6. Reflect On Your Progress. Set time aside at the end of each day to reflect on your progress. Seeing gradual growth in your skillset helps with motivation and self-esteem. A great way to do this is to keep a progress journal to track the changes you’ve made based on each entry.
  7. Let Go Of Perfection. Nobody is perfect, and nobody has a perfect skillset in what they want to achieve. You, like everyone else, will have strengths and weaknesses in what you are working on. Let go of the need for perfection and focus on your progress and growth.

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Tips For Imposter Syndrome When Parenting

  1. Ask For Support. Parenting is challenging, and not having it all figured out can make imposter syndrome prominent each day. When you need to, reach out and ask for help from loved ones and people who want to support you. You are no less for needing support- we all need it sometimes.
  2. Seek Guidance From Experienced Parents. Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned parent, you are not expected to know how to handle every situation or to perfectly juggle all of the challenges that come with parenting. If you are stuck, seek guidance from a trusted loved one who you think may have experience or valuable insight to offer. Seeking professional guidance from a parenting or family counselor or other mental health professional is also an option.
  3. Build Your Relationship With Your Kids. If you are having trouble finding confidence in your parenting style, shift your focus to getting to know your kids. Begin to build a bond with your kids in their current life stage and embrace their growth and development process.
  4. Give Yourself Credit. When dealing with imposter syndrome, it is easy to focus on the struggles and negatives and forget to give yourself credit for the positives or good things you provide to your kids. Take time each day to reflect on the good things you were able to do as a parent and stop focusing so much on the things that you cannot change.
  5. Let Go Of Control. Parents often struggle with aging kids because they feel out of control. To manage this, work on accepting your limits of control as a parent and instead, focus on building trust by setting clear expectations and boundaries.
  6. Take Care Of Yourself. It is easy to lose yourself in parenting, but taking care of yourself ensures that you are well enough to also take care of your kids. Establish a self-care routine to ensure that you take the time that you need to fuel and enrich yourself, so you can be present for your kids in the way that they need.
  7. Manage Your Stress. Stress management is an important part of dealing with imposter syndrome, especially when the stress is consistent or pulls your attention in different directions (much like parenting tends to do). Develop a routine of managing your stress so it does not overwhelm you and affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Consulting with a mental health professional can help you with this process.

Tips For Imposter Syndrome When Being Put Down

  1. Focus On Positive Influences. One person being critical of your performance is not enough to judge your true value or competence. If others are saying differently about your performance, even if your biggest critic is your boss, consider that the issue is not with you, but rather with their ability to perform their duties as a leader.
  2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts. Opinions from others can influence how you think, and if you are getting negativity from someone else, you may internalize that into yourself. Instead of absorbing their negativity, focus on learning methods for challenging your negative thoughts. A mental health professional can help you with this process.
  3. Seek Support. If you are being picked on or singled out at work or in life, chances are you are not the only one, or that others in your life have been through something similar. Seek support from those who can understand your position and can offer you an objective interpretation of what is happening around you.
  4. Consider Your Values. If someone is not treating you properly or putting down your worth, stay true to the things that are most important to you. Remembering your values can help you keep a good perspective on your worth and what you have to offer- whether in a relationship or the workplace.
  5. Set Healthy Boundaries. People who are making you feel unworthy of what you have achieved and what you have to offer are not healthy people to have in your life. If someone is making you feel like you are not worthy of credit for your hard work then set firm boundaries between them and yourself.
  6. Exit The Relationship. Whether in a professional or personal relationship, nobody deserves to make you question your worth. Criticism that makes you feel insecure or worthless is not good for your mental health and wellness, so if the circumstances do not change, that person is not able to offer you healthy guidance on how to improve, or they are not willing to work with you, then it is best to disengage from the relationship.
  7. Seek Counseling. Imposter syndrome is challenging to cope with on your own. Consider speaking with a mental health professional to process your feelings and the impact that the oppressive influence has had on your sense of self-esteem.
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