Imposterism is an all too common challenge many face without conquering. Yet, there is hope in overcoming it.

What Is Imposterism (AKA Imposter Syndrome)?

According to the book Imposter Phenomenon, the term was first coined by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s. Imposterism, also known as imposter syndrome, describes an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt. This can lead to a constant fear that a person’s success is undeserving. With this fear, overcoming imposterism may seem impossible. A person might experience intense anxiety and insecurity throughout their career and personal life.

Imposterism is an all too common challenge many face without conquering. Yet, there is hope in overcoming imposterism. We’ll discuss numerous strategies that can help anyone overcome feelings of imposterism.

Is Imposter Syndrome Common?

Up to 82% of people experience feelings of imposter syndrome. This shocking statistic demonstrates how many are struggling with the belief that they do not deserve their success.

What Is the Root Cause of Imposterism?

The truth is, imposterism isn’t black and white. It’s a complex phenomenon with many contributing factors. Here are the primary causes of imposter syndrome:

Family Environment

One significant aspect is the family environment. Where someone compares themselves to a high-achieving sibling or parent. If they’re not measuring up to their standard of success, they often feel like a failure.

Social Pressure

Social pressure also plays a crucial role. Picture-perfect social media accounts and glorified hustle culture can increase anxiety and contribute to a sense of falling short.

Desire for Acceptance

Additionally, the desire for acceptance can fuel imposterism. Often leaving a person feeling inadequate.

To combat imposter syndrome, it’s essential to recognize these causes. It’s also important to develop strategies for self-acceptance and growth. The good news? Understanding the root causes of imposterism is the first step toward overcoming it.

Is Imposterism Similar to Anxiety?

There is an established relationship between imposter syndrome and other behavioral health disorders, including burnout, depression, anxiety, and exacerbation of other behavioral health issues. This acknowledges the link between imposter syndrome and various mental health challenges. Knowing this information, it’s so important to seek support when necessary.

Common Signs of Imposter Syndrome

new employee struggling to fit in

Want to discover the key to determining whether you may have imposterism? Here are some ways to identify whether you may or may not be experiencing imposterism.

You Feel Like a Fraud

Imposterism may cause you to believe that you don’t deserve your success. It can also lead to paranoia. This is due to the constant fear that others will discover your so-called incompetence.

You’re Often Stuck in Comparison

It’s not uncommon to experience getting stuck in a comparison game. Are you measuring your achievements against others and often feel less than? This self-doubt may reinforce the belief that you don’t belong. Or, you may feel like you are undeserving of your accomplishments.

You Dismiss Compliments

Do you downplay your achievements or dismiss praise as insincere or undeserved? This discomfort may come from the belief that you don’t deserve recognition. This can further fuel your feelings of being an imposter.

You Avoid Risk-Taking

Avoiding risk is common due to feeling “exposed” as inferior or traumatized by the fear of failure. This limits growth by keeping you in your comfort zone and delaying the pursuit of your goals.

You Have Low Self-Esteem

You may doubt your abilities and undermine your accomplishments. This can lead to a sense of low self-worth. These feelings can erode your self-esteem over time. Which makes it difficult to acknowledge and appreciate your value within yourself.

How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

young professional overcoming imposter syndrome

Overcoming imposterism is not a linear journey. It often involves increasing self-awareness, self-compassion, and commitment to your personal growth. Here are some strategies that can assist you in managing your self-doubt:

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledging your feelings is the first step in overcoming imposterism. This means acknowledging and accepting feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and fear of being a fraud. This awareness serves as the groundwork for developing strategies to beat imposterism once and for all.

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Challenging negative thoughts is vital because it causes you to question their validity. Thus, you’re able to replace them with constructive thoughts. This helps shift your mindset and build up self-confidence.

Focus on Your Strengths

First, identify your unique skills and qualities. Then, begin to leverage them in your personal and professional life. This can help boost self-esteem and diminish imposter syndrome’s impact on your self-confidence.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial for helping you overcome imposterism. Why? Achievable objectives counter feelings of unworthiness. One way to do this is by breaking down large goals into manageable tasks. This shift from sky-high to-do list to empowering (yet manageable) goal-setting, can reduce imposter syndrome and its impact on achieving your dreams.

Seek Support

Seeking support is a valuable tool in managing imposterism. Reach out to friends, family members, mentors, or even a therapist for emotional reinforcement. This can help you gain an understanding of how much you’ve already accomplished. It can also provide insight into your unique abilities.

Celebrate Your Successes

Take the time to acknowledge and reward yourself when you reach a goal – no matter how big it is. Doing so enhances your self-esteem, shifts focus away from doubt and creates a more positive, confident outlook (all of which are key components in managing imposterism).

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a valuable technique for overcoming imposterism. By practicing mindfulness you can observe your self-doubt without becoming overwhelmed. Additionally, you will develop the ability to identify thinking patterns as they arise. This allows you to acknowledge them and let them naturally fade away.

Kindness is Key

Being kind to yourself is a fundamental aspect of overcoming imposterism. It is important to treat yourself with kindness and empathy (as you would support a friend facing difficulties). Remember that experiencing moments of self-doubt is a part of being human.

Become a Risk-Taker

This one may sound controversial. But, taking risks can actually help you overcome imposter syndrome. How? Challenging yourself and taking risks builds up confidence. This can reduce impostorism’s influence and boost self-assurance.

Why It Matters

Overall, imposterism can have a huge impact on mental health and well-being. Fortunately, there are strategies to help anyone manage the feelings associated. If you’ve been experiencing imposterism, use the strategies above to help overcome it. It can greatly help build up your self-confidence and enjoy a more fulfilling life.


  • (Huecker MR, Shreffler J, McKeny PT, Davis D. Imposter Phenomenon. 2023 Jul 31. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 36251839).
  • (Bravata, D. M., et al., Journal of General Internal Medicine, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2020).