Imposter Syndrome- What is it and how to Manage it?

Imposter Syndrome- What is it and how to Manage it?

Imposter syndrome is a condition which may force you to doubt your own achievements out a fear that others will tag them as a fraud. Every one of you, regardless of what job or social status you enjoy, are equally susceptible to this disease.

The disease was first described by the psychologists in the year 1978. A research even indicated how almost 70 percent of people are likely to suffer from at least one episode of this disorder at any point in their lives. Imposter syndrome is particularly prevalent in women who tend to be high-achievers.

Most of the people suffer from the symptoms of imposter syndrome on a temporary basis, such as during the first few days of joining a new job. At the same time, there are some people who may suffer from the disease for the entire life.

The article will take a look at the signs and symptoms of Imposter syndrome and different ways in which it can be managed.

What are the Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome?

The ability of a person to doubt himself helps him in determining a realistic assessment of all his achievements, abilities, competence, and validity. However, if this sense over-inflates, it can be really difficult to create a realistic image of self.

This can eventually lead to symptoms that constitute imposter syndrome. The people suffering from this disorder may:

Fear that they might not be able to live up to others’ expectations

A lot of people suffering from imposter syndrome often think that the people around them such as their supervisors expect a lot from them and they might not be live up to their expectations.

Dodge any extra responsibilities

People suffering from imposter syndrome prefer burying themselves in work instead of going for additional duties that may polish their abilities.

This means that they are hardly seen in volunteer programs because they have a viewpoint that such activities are going to distract them from their main job.

Get caught in an “imposter cycle”

Achievement of success causes the patients of imposter syndrome to indulge in a continuous cycle of self-doubt. Every time they achieve an aim, they become rather worried about the fact that others may know about their capabilities.

Deny their own competency

Patients suffering from imposter syndrome are often seen attributing their successes to outside sources. They deny their competency and often feel that they need to work harder than most of the other people.


People suffering from imposter syndrome have low confidence and a high fear of failing.

They are constantly struggling internally with achieving any success and preventing being “found out”. This constant struggle hinders them from actually utilizing their true potential.

Not be satisfied with their jobs

The patients with imposter syndrome are not usually happy with their jobs. They feel that they are not challenged enough but at the same time, they do not seek promotions because of being afraid of failing.

Such people are more likely to stay in their current positions as they often believe that they cannot do any better than what they are currently doing. They undervalue their skills and do not recognize that other roles can place more significance on their capabilities.

Never ask for a raise

Because the patients with imposter syndrome always undervalue their true potential and skills, they may never ask for a raise in their pay. This is because they believe that they are not worth any more money.

Imposter Syndrome

Go overboard on setting goals and tasks

An extremely high fear of feeling and the urge to be a perfectionist in every aspect can drive people to overachieve while they are completing any task.

It has also been found that the patients with imposter syndrome tend to set challenging roles and suffer from disappointment when they are unable to achieve them.

RELATED: Treacher Collins Syndrome- Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Types of Imposters

People suffering from imposter syndrome may exhibit different behaviors. On the basis of this behavior, different types of imposters have been categorized. (You can the complete details of it in this Book by Dr. Valerie Young)

The Expert

The expert never feels satisfied upon finishing the task. It is until they are assured that they know every aspect of it. They are continuously looking for new data which hinders them from completing tasks on time.

Those who do not apply for a job when they feel like they do not completely meet the requirements are also a part of this category.

The Perfectionist

People who are perfectionists commonly suffer from a high form of anxiety, worry, and doubt, particularly when they are unable to meet their goals.

Such type of people is always dissatisfied with their tasks. They focus on areas where they could have done better instead of rejoicing the ones they did perfectly.

The Natural Genius

These kind of people are talented and can pick up a new skill in a less amount of time. However, in case they fail to do so, they are ashamed of themselves and consider themselves weak.

These people also do not recognize that everyone has to build upon their capabilities to achieve success in life.

The Soloist

The soloist also goes by the name of the rugged individualist. Such a person usually works alone and believes that he will be incompetent if he asks others for help.

Such people turn down any help offered to them just to prove their worth.

The Superhero

Superheroes tend to excel in all areas because they are always pushing themselves so hard. The category mainly includes workaholics.

This overload burns them out and affects their mental and physical health as well as their relationships with people.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Managing imposter syndrome is possible. All you need to do is to follow some steps mentioned below:

Imposter Syndrome

Talk about it

If you believe you are suffering from imposter syndrome, talk to a family member, a trusted friend, or a healthcare professional as an initial step towards management.

This step helps you in distinguishing between what you perceive versus the reality of a situation. If you open up about your experiences, it may also be helpful in identifying the real source of distress.

Educate Yourself

It is very important for the patients of imposter syndrome to educate themselves regarding the symptoms. This can help in identification of the personality type and may facilitate the process of treatment.

Keep a Record of Accomplishments and Celebrate them

People suffering from imposter syndrome tend to get surprised when they go through a written record of their accomplishments. They are also affected positively if their skills and achievements are celebrated.

Accept that Perfectionism does not Exist

It is important for the patients to acknowledge their flaws and enjoy a healthy self-esteem. No one is perfect and everyone commits mistakes in their life.

Resist Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are a major driving factor of the imposter cycle. These thoughts need overcoming in order to treat the symptoms.

It is also important to work in connection with a therapist who has an experience of cognitive behavioral therapy.


People suffering from imposter syndrome may decrease the quality of their lives. Therefore, it is important to talk about their fears, suspicions, negative thoughts, and challenges. Keep a record of all the achievements and rejoice every little achievement.

If possible, it is always best to work in coordination with a health professional, especially when the symptoms are persisting or are affecting the life badly.

Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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