What Is Imposter Syndrome and How to Beat It

6 min readNov 18, 2022


By Silvia Carli-Reese MS, RD, CSCS

What Is Imposter Syndrome and How to Beat It (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Imposter syndrome doesn’t discriminate. From working single parents struggling to find a perfect work-life balance to athletes competing at the highest level, imposter syndrome can creep into anyone’s life. This complex psychological phenomenon can have far-reaching effects on the personal and professional aspects of your life. Additionally, perfectionist tendencies often amplify the effects of imposter syndrome. In these cases, not only are you unable to accept success, but you constantly criticize your efforts. So, what is imposter syndrome, and what can you do about it? Keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

More than 70% of people struggle with imposter syndrome. At its core, imposter syndrome is a crippling case of self-criticism. People battling with this psychological nightmare have a hard time believing that they deserve their success. They struggle with the overwhelming feeling that they aren’t good enough. As you can imagine, living with the fear of being exposed as a fraud causes immense emotional distress. Accomplishments and compliments only fuel this feeling of inadequacy since you can’t appreciate positive feedback.

Social issues such as gender bias frequently contribute to some cases of imposter syndrome. For example, women may experience imposter syndrome more than men. Why? Gender biases are more likely to make women doubt their accomplishments, especially if they thrive in a male-dominated space. This is despite them being completely capable. Most believe that other people might, in the end, overestimate their capabilities or that it’s only a matter of time before their luck runs out. Knowing when imposter syndrome strikes can help you turn those self-doubts into an advantage that allows you to push further.

What is Imposter Syndrome? | Kati Morton

Imposter syndrome has a detrimental effect on your well-being. It causes a vicious cycle of self-doubt that lowers your capacity for personal growth. Professionals who can’t believe they are the right pick for promotion can become more self-conscious and less productive over time. Understanding how you are vulnerable is crucial to overcoming imposter syndrome.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Ways Self-Doubt Steals Your Power

Though imposter syndrome manifests itself in various ways, it has the universal effect of limiting your potential. Learning how self-doubt holds you back is crucial to overcoming your imposter syndrome.


One of the ways imposter syndrome manifests in someone is through unhealthy perfectionistic tendencies. A perfectionist strives for the best possible result. While this isn’t bad, perfectionism often leads to so-called “analysis paralysis.” Self-doubt is why perfectionists get stuck in something, usually because they are scared of failure.


Postponing tasks is normal, and everyone does it sometimes. However, constant procrastination could point to a deeper issue. People struggling with imposter syndrome will stall when faced with a challenging problem. Once again, fear of failure and self-doubt are to blame. It’s not that procrastinators lack initiative, but rather that self-doubt dampens their enthusiasm for new projects.

Unhealthy Comparisons

Unhealthy comparisons are a core indicator of imposter syndrome. True, people use comparisons to find their place in life. However, self-doubt can turn this process into a self-destructive cycle. Not only does this destructive habit stunt the initiative but it also fuels anxiety and may increase stress levels.

Unhealthy comparisons are a core indicator of imposter syndrome. (Image Source: Shutterstock)


Those struggling with imposter syndrome tend to deal with their shortcomings by overachieving in other areas. This is why many high-functioning professionals battling imposter syndrome often over-work. More often than not, the excess workload overwhelms them, further amplifying the feeling of incompetence. Ultimately, this approach negatively affects their work patterns, causing low productivity. While overcompensation might have short-term benefits, like completing a big project, it can have long-term detrimental effects.

People Pleasing

People pleasing can be another sign of imposter syndrome because you don’t feel like you belong or are worthy of someone’s attention. You can be confident and kind while still looking after your own needs.

Feeling Unworthy of Affection

The sad truth is that imposter syndrome also affects personal relationships, including marriages, friendships, and family. People struggling with this issue overanalyze their flaws and ignore their strengths. As a result, they constantly fear their loved ones will expose their “deception” and cut them off. Consequently, they feel undeserving of the affection of their loved ones.

Downplaying Accomplishments

Imposter syndrome is a major reason many promising professionals can’t seem to advance their careers. For instance, professionals struggling with imposter syndrome often downplay their role in team accomplishments. Self-doubt holds them back since they avoid taking on leadership and managerial positions.

Professionals struggling with imposter syndrome (Image Source: Shutterstock)

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

As you can see, imposter syndrome can creep into different areas of your life. You may feel content in a relationship but notice you experience imposter syndrome in a work setting or vice versa. In addition, the individual experiences of imposter syndrome can differ. Overcoming imposter syndrome takes time, but the following tips can set the tone for a healthier mindset.

Nurture a Positive Headspace

The first step to beating imposter syndrome is switching up your internal monologue. Changing your self-talk for the better can have phenomenal results on your mental state.

You can use positive affirmations to keep cool in situations that trigger your imposter syndrome. A positive headspace strengthens your mindset while forming a stable foundation for your budding confidence.

Acknowledge Your Accomplishments

Always take note of your accomplishments, no matter how small. Try keeping a positive affirmations journal. Writing and journaling can be therapeutic. Filling up your journal with small wins can help you relax and center yourself.

Additionally, the journal can act as a roadmap, highlighting all your successes. As you can imagine, this makes it a powerful recovery tool when you are battling bouts of imposter syndrome.

Enforce Positive Routines

Did you know that your routines could be fueling your imposter syndrome? For instance, social media can contribute to imposter syndrome. Reducing social media use helps prevent unfair comparisons, significantly reducing imposter syndrome.

Positive routines helps you overcome imposter syndrome (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Enforcing positive routines also helps you overcome imposter syndrome by developing a growth mindset. For example, you can exercise to reduce anxiety. Exercise narrows your focus to accomplishing simple but intense tasks. The body releases endorphins when you work out. These feel-good hormones help mitigate stress and other adverse effects of imposter syndrome.

Seek Professional Help

Speaking to a therapist can be beneficial if you’re struggling to overcome imposter syndrome. A professional will leverage their training and experience to guide you through recovery. Additionally, chronic imposter syndrome often leads to mental health symptoms like depression. Since a therapist can detect the signs and symptoms of depression in its early stages, they can provide you with the tools to be more in control.

Emotional Distress: Embracing Self-Doubt as Part of Being Human

The truth is that it takes time to break old thinking habits and behaviors. Humans are imperfect; it’s a part of life. Talking about how you feel and separating feelings from facts is a great place to start your journey. Overcoming self-doubt might, at first, seem like an impossible task, but it is completely achievable.

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