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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Clock6 min. read
byVexxit Staff onFebruary 16, 2021

If you find yourself doubting your abilities and success, you’re certainly not alone. It’s estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of 'impostor syndrome' in their lives. Discover how to conquer imposter syndrome.

I was hired as the best candidate to do this job, so why do I feel like a fake? 

Will this person realize I don’t know what I’m doing / talking about / asking for? 

Do they think I’m a fraud?

If this echoes the sound of your internal dialogue, you’re certainly not alone. This practice of doubting one’s own abilities and successes is a commonly shared feeling and part of a societal phenomenon labeled 'imposter syndrome'. And with the rise of social media, imposter syndrome is more prevalent than ever before. 

What is imposter syndrome?

The American Psychological Association (AMA) traces the term back to the 1970s when psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, first described it, noting, "Impostor phenomenon occurs among people who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud". 

Impostor phenomenon isn't an official medical diagnosis, but it affects large numbers of the population, including men and women, professionals and students and spans across cultures. A 2011 report from the International Journal of Behavioral Science explains that while the impostor phenomenon was initially believed to only affect professional women (a theory since proven false), today it is estimated that 70 per cent of people will experience at least one episode of impostor syndrome in their lives. 

Imposter syndrome can bring on feelings of anxiety, depression and self-doubt. It can also lead to overworking, unhealthy levels of perfectionism, and a limited belief that any success comes from hard work or luck, and not actual ability. 

While the psychological toll of imposter syndrome can be damaging, it is possible to conquer. In this blog, we'll outline a few of the ways to deal with imposter syndrome. 


The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing your feelings. As it's not an official medical diagnosis, the phenomenon is often overlooked as the cause of any emotional or physical distress. 

There are multiple imposter syndrome tests available online, including the Clance IP Scale, developed by Pauline Rose Clance to help individuals determine whether or not they have IP characteristics and, if so, to what extent they are suffering.


Once you’ve recognized the issue, it’s important to address your fears of failure. Be honest about your feelings to yourself and those around you—including talking to your partner, coworkers and bosses if you feel comfortable in doing so. 

Isolating yourself and giving in to negative thought patterns will not help. The truth is, most people feel like imposters at some point in their lives. As the widely shared sentiment claims, "we are all just children pretending to be adults.” You are not alone in your feelings. 

Switching your mindset

Choose to focus on your strengths instead of weaknesses. 

Make a list of your positive qualities, knowledge and accomplishments and read it over whenever you feel familiar negative thought patterns emerging. By focusing on facts instead of feelings, it’s possible to retrain your brain to look for positives. 


Work with a career coach or consultant

If you're still struggling to deal with feelings of impostorism, consider connecting with a professional who holds experience in dealing with the imposter phenomenona. 

Career coaches help clients deal with feelings of fear and failure on a daily basis and have access to the tools and resources needed to help. 

Vexxit will match you with career consultants whose profiles align with your exact needs, making sure you find the perfect professional fit for you.

Find your professional match on Vexxit today.  

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Looking to build your confidence and advance in your career? Think about connecting with a human resources professional. Find the professional best suited to your needs.