How to overcome imposter syndrome

by | Apr 8, 2022

Imposter Syndrome is a term first coined in the 1970s by a psychologist who noticed reports from high-achieving professional women describing feelings of alienation in their roles at work. But Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone at any stage of their career. A 2011 study found that 70% of professionals will experience imposter syndrome in their lifetime). It can often occur during times of professional transition – like starting a new job or after earning a promotion, and the feelings elicited by Imposter Syndrome can include:

  • Feeling like you’re a fraud
  • Feeling as though your accomplishments at work were to due to either an irreplicable amount of effort or dumb luck 
  • Feeling like you do not deserve your role or you are not qualified enough for your role
  • Worrying about the future of your work 
  • Minimizing your accomplishments at work 
  • Being overly sensitive to criticism of any kind, even if it is constructive

So how does one cope with Imposter Syndrome? It can be challenging to overcome, mainly because people actively managing Imposter Syndrome avoid talking about it, fearing that simply having those feelings will make them perceived as less qualified for their work. 

Utilize your organization’s benefits if available.

In the wake of the Great Resignation, businesses are more committed than ever to hiring and retaining talented people (you). Retaining talent is naturally more difficult in the 2022 job market because organizations compete for employees, so many businesses reinforce their benefits across the board. If you have feelings associated with imposter syndrome, take advantage of mental health counseling (many organizations have a certain number of free sessions) or employer-reimbursed training to improve the confidence you have in your work performance. 

Reach out to your support system.

You’re not alone. Someone you know has likely experienced Imposter Syndrome, so reach out to friends and family and ask about how they dealt with it, or find someone you trust to share how you’re feeling. On a recent Pathstream-led panel discussion, Aileen, our panelist, talked about how she utilized her friends from university who were in similar career paths when she felt feelings of Imposter Syndrome: 

“Sometimes it’s literally just a quick text of ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘this is taking me much longer than my peers,’ and their quick text [back] reminds me ‘no, I got this. It’s okay if [a project] takes a little bit longer. It’s okay if it’s not perfect – at the end of the day, we were hired because our employers felt like we’re a good fit and we are capable of doing our job.'”

Remember: wherever you work, they’re lucky to have you 

Most businesses have departments whose entire role revolves around hiring the right people for the job. If they hired you and you’re willing to learn, you deserve to have the position you have, and your employer wants you to be there. Don’t be afraid to ask many questions or ask for help. Good managers know their purpose is to eliminate obstacles in your work. This means giving you access to more resources, pointing you to the right people in your organization to clarify something, or even just reminding you that they’re happy to have you as part of the team. 

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