What is Imposter Syndrome? 5 Tips to Help You Overcome It.

I remember my first experience of imposter syndrome. I was 16 years old and selected in a representative netball team. And my overwhelming response to this news was “Should I really be in this team?” Despite being chosen, I doubted whether I was good enough.

This is imposter syndrome and it can show up in all kinds of situations. It’s a common struggle for many in the workplace and affects professionals across all industries, from entry-level employees to top executives.  It is characterized by persistent self-doubt and a fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite the individual’s accomplishments, experience and qualifications.

This negative mindset can hinder professional growth, reduce self-confidence, and lead to missed opportunities. However, by understanding the causes and adopting strategies to overcome imposter syndrome, people can learn to reclaim their self-worth and thrive in their careers.

Causes of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can arise from various sources, such as high standards, perfectionism, negative comparisons with others, or past failures. Individuals affected by it downplay their achievements often attributing their success to luck or other external factor; have a strong fear of failure; constantly seeking validation from others; and avoid new challenges. These beliefs not only undermine an individual’s professional growth, but also impacts job satisfaction, and overall mental wellbeing.

5 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

  1. Recognise it: The first step towards overcoming imposter syndrome is acknowledging its existence. Understand that self-doubt is common, and many successful individuals have experienced it.
  2. Normalise Mistakes: Failure is an inevitable part of life and happens to everyone. Try to be curious rather than critical of your mistakes, and view them as opportunities for growth rather than as confirmation of your inadequacy.
  3. Seek Support: Understand that everyone, regardless of their position or level of expertise, has moments of self-doubt. Be willing to ask for help when you need it and recognize that growth and improvement come from facing challenges head-on.
  4. Set Realistic Goals: Break larger tasks into smaller, achievable goals. Celebrate progress along the way and recognize that your success is the result of your effort and competence.
  5. Back Yourself: Give yourself the same encouragement, support and kindness that you would offer to a close friend or colleague who was struggling with their own self-doubt. What would you say to them? Now say that yourself as well!


Imposter syndrome can cast a shadow of self-doubt and hinder your professional development and overall mental wellbeing. By acknowledging its presence, challenging negative thoughts, and seeking support, you can reclaim your confidence and thrive in the workplace.

Remember that most success is not accidental or caused by luck, but the culmination of your hard work, effort, and dedication.

If you are experiencing imposter syndrome and need support please get in touch with Ahead Psychology EAP. Our experienced psychologists are here to help you.

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