How to overcome imposter syndrome: 10 practical strategies

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Imposter syndrome is a crippling problem that affects most of us at some point.

It makes you feel like no matter how much you accomplish you’ll never really be good enough or deserve the success you aim for. 

Here’s how to overcome imposter syndrome in a practical and effective way. 

1) Accept your feelings

You won’t get anywhere with imposter syndrome without first accepting that you’re having these feelings. 

You’re at a new job, you’re in a relationship, you’re starting to work out at the gym, you’re in an unfamiliar social situation…

And you feel bad. 

You feel like you don’t belong there and like everyone can see it written on your face. 

The last place you want to be is right here. The last thing you want to feel is this sensation of unworthiness and being out of place. 

But you feel it. 

And you need to accept that you’re feeling it instead of pushing it down. 

2) Breathe and be present

At this time you need to breathe and be present

Let’s say you’re at a party where you feel you’re not really welcome or fitting in:

You want to leave, you think nobody there likes you, you feel sure they think you’re ugly or weird or random. 

Accept that you feel this rather than judging it, as I said.

Then take a deep breath and another. Be present with yourself and this pain you are feeling. 

What is it trying to tell you? 

Is it telling you that this party is truly not where you belong and you should go?

Or is this a negative script running in your mind that’s telling you false exaggerations to get you to run and hide from past pain? 

3) Spot the self-sabotage 

If you are suffering imposter syndrome then it’s built around some form of self-sabotage

Pain from the past is telling you the present will be the same…

Fear of being not good enough is keeping you from taking a risk on a relationship getting more serious…

Past physical frailty or obesity is convincing you that your time at the gym is wasted and that you’re just not “buff” like those other guys there or svelte like those other women. 

This is self-sabotage. 

It’s like playing loud ugly music to drown out beautiful music underneath. 

You need to identify these patterns, because they’re sabotaging you. 

4) Free your mind 

In order to disentangle unhelpful narratives that are holding you down, you need to free your mind. 

This doesn’t mean you just need to “be more positive” or some kind of cookie-cutter prescription like that. 

Freeing your mind goes a lot deeper to finding out what empowers you and brings out the true you, and what takes away your power and makes you ashamed and trapped. 

The best teachings I’ve found on the subject come from world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê.

In his free masterclass on finding spiritual truth, Rudá charts his own journey through New Age gurus and their deceptive teachings to eventually realizing the truth about spiritual progress. 

If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome and feeling not good enough, this is something you need to see. 

Your negativity and sadness isn’t “bad,” but there’s another way to approach it that is empowering and will move your life forward in a powerful way.

Check out the free video here.

5) Take a look at history’s ‘winners’

The best reality check you can have when dealing with imposter syndrome is to take a look at history’s “winners.”

What you’ll find out is that many of histories greatest winners were epic losers. 

They lost and failed and got frustrated over and over and over. 

But they kept trying and learning and adjusting their sails and eventually they changed the world forever. 

Your goals may be more modest:

But even if your goal is just to love yourself and be in a loving relationship, never doubt how much some people go through to reach that objective!

You’re on the way, even if you don’t realize how much progress you are making right now. 

6) Take stock of the situation 

So what is the situation you’re faced with? 

Is it a new job? A relationship that’s got you feeling insecure?

Is it your body image that has you feeling in the dumps like you’re just not meant to be attractive? 

Maybe it’s your university course that has you feeling you’re just not up to the academic level of your classmates? 

Whatever it is that has you feeling like an imposter and a fake, take stock of it. 

There are certain advantages and disadvantages we all have. That’s a fact. 

Ask friends and family to give you some feedback and take a look at the real, hard facts. 

You will notice that it’s rarely as black and white as your imposter syndrome tells you it is. 

7) Give your all

Imposter syndrome thrives on black and white thinking. 

The situation is rarely as great or as horrible as you think. It’s usually somewhere more in the middle. 

For example, it may be true that you’re out of shape or weaker than most others at the gym, but it’s also likely true that you have way more potential and strength than you realize. 

This is why it’s important to give your all. 

The way out of imposter syndrome is to apply the full measure of your effort and energy. 

The more you try your best and work hard, the more you prove your imposter syndrome wrong. 

You do belong here and you are a valid and worthy person! 

8) Let failure be your teacher

When you do fail in your objectives, the imposter syndrome is going to try to kick back in. 

This is exactly when you need to say no thanks and do something else instead. 

Here’s what I mean.

Say you take a new job as an architect and are given a performance review after six months saying you have fallen short of goals. 

You’re dismissed from the position and told you’re not a fit. 

But you have always wanted to be an architect and you admired this firm you were working at!

Your imposter syndrome tells you:

“See I told you so! You’re a loser! You were never supposed to be a real architect! They found out the real you, just some wannabe with a couple of basic drafting programs on his PC who thinks they could be the real deal.”

Instead, you turn to your other voice, let’s call it the real you:

“Yes, this position didn’t work out! But maybe this firm itself wasn’t a fit! Think about the things they told you to improve, why not try? You could get a job at another firm and fix some of those weak spots they mentioned!”

Go with the second voice! 

9) Try, try again

There’s no limit to how many times you can try. 

As long as you’re breathing, you’re in the game. 

Don’t let anybody tell you that trying too many times is pathetic or shows that you don’t belong somewhere. 

Some of the biggest success stories in the world were people who seemed to be getting absolutely nowhere except they just wouldn’t give up

Take something like working out as a perfect example. 

The more you try again and again, the more you progress. 

In fact, falling short of an intended weight or lifting goal only gives you more motivation to return and try harder. 

The result?

Your continual trying is your training. The journey is the destination.

Plus, even once you do hit some of your targets, just maintaining that healthy, high-energy level is going to keep you coming back for more. 

10) Rewrite your script 

The script that you have inside yourself has mainly been written by others with your own willing or unwilling contribution. 

It’s time to rewrite that script. 

Think of yourself as a heroic character in a film. 

You have faults, just like a character in a film. But you also have strengths. 

Make those strengths and heroic traits a part of who you are and who you know yourself to be, whether they’re patience, compassion and intelligence or courage, truth-seeking and high energy. 

This is who you are. It’s real. Your inner script that was telling you you’re nothing is no longer part of your reality. 

As Amal Saymeh explains

“The imposter phenomenon causes people to experience a fear of success. 

“They believe it is unattainable no matter how hard or often they try to attain it — success isn’t meant for them.”

11) Find allies and supportive folks

No matter how far you progress in your journey to inner security and self-confidence, it never hurts to have allies on your side. 

These are the folks who remind you how much you’re worth and give you encouragement when the chips are down. 

They’re the ones who remind you of how far you’ve come. 

You were always wrong before when you said you wouldn’t make it, why would you be right this time?

You’re going to survive, you’re going to thrive, you’re going to stake your claim in this world and be an absolute inspiration. 

You have to know this and be reminded of this a lot, which is why having allies and a good support system is so absolutely crucial. 

12) Celebrate your wins! 

Overcoming imposter syndrome is all about celebrating your wins! 

Those with imposter syndrome often tend to think of themselves in a negative way. 

If that’s you then you know what I mean:

You downplay your successes and focus on where you fell short. 

Instead of this, learn to take a compliment and really feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. 

As Chris Palmer writes:

“If someone congratulates you, don’t move on too fast. 

“Pay attention to how you respond and aim to speak more positively about yourself.”

Proving yourself right… 

There’s some truth to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies and positive thinking

It’s true that what we focus on tends to lead to us perceiving more of it. 

This is known in psychology as confirmation bias.

If I think that I am destined to be wealthy and that I am born to be a prosperous person, I’m going to feel much more upbeat about myself financially and tend to notice many more opportunities that cross my path. 

At the same time, there are limits to belief and having faith. I can believe I’m going to be wealthy deep in my bones, but if I become too entitled about that I’m most likely going to become much poorer. 

The truth about proving yourself right..is that…

Belief is not enough!

In fact, belief is just the very beginning of the foundation. 

Belief and faith are what you are willing to have as you try and work toward a goal. 

You need to build true, unshakeable faith by proving yourself right. 

This is the ultimate cure to imposter syndrome.

It’s not just to believe different things about yourself and try to force yourself into a new positive self-image and conception. 

It’s to see your positive beliefs about yourself and your abilities proven in your actual life. 

It’s to see your efforts and attempts to accomplish something as evidence that you are capable and that it is possible to turn ideals and goals into results. 

In fact it’s not only possible: it’s the only way to truly progress in life and leave a mark on the world. 

You’re not an imposter: you’re 100% real. 

And you prove that every day from the moment you swing your legs over the side of the bed. 

You see, the ultimate irony is this: 

Imposter syndrome is an imposter 

The irony of imposter syndrome is that this negative inner monologue and pattern is an imposter. 

It relies on self-doubt and fear to undermine your objectives and dreams, taunting you like a persistent bully. 

But the inner fears and self-doubt isn’t you. 

No matter how justified these fears and doubts seem, they’re an imposter. 

You have potential, talents and self-worth that belongs in this world and is valued by others. 

It’s time to show imposter syndrome the exit. 

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

7 false problems overthinkers worry about in relationships

12 secrets of people who are always calm and composed