6 tips to overcome imposter syndrome and believe in yourself

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Imposter syndrome is when you feel that you are a pretender who doesn’t belong in a certain place, activity or role. 

You feel like people can see through you, and like you don’t belong at the gym, or the dance studio, or the teaching job you’re doing, or your role as a mom.

You’re an imposter! You don’t deserve to be here!

Well, hold on a moment…

There’s a way to deal with this, in fact here I’m going to go over 10 tips to overcome imposter syndrome and believe in yourself.

1) We’re all imposters at times

First of all, the idea that there are various “legitimate” people out there and we’re just an amateur is often self-constructed. 

We’re all imposters in our own mind from time to time. 

Understand that you’re in the same boat as many other people in sometimes feeling out of place or like you’re faking it. 

Everybody feels like they are an imposter sometimes.

As Julia Martins writes

“All types of people experience imposter syndrome—and not just new hires, either. 

“Team members in more senior positions are actually more likely than average to experience imposter syndrome.”

Even a woman who works her way up to president of a bank didn’t just get promoted and naturally glide into her new executive suite.

She likely had doubts, too, or settled into her new role only occasionally to feel like “is this really where I belong, or am I just faking it?”

Chances are she felt like an imposter then and still does now in some ways. 

So do professional athletes, celebrities and many ordinary people. 

“Am I really a father? I still feel like I’m supposed to just be enjoying my life. This feels crazy and like I’m just pretending.” 

We all play professional and personal roles in life that sometimes feel like we’re not suited to them. 

That doesn’t make them fake, or invalid. 

But it does mean that we sometimes feel a disconnect between who we really are or our self-assessment and self-image.

That’s OK, it doesn’t actually mean you’re wrong, or don’t belong in your role! 

Which brings me to the next tip.

2) The Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an important concept. 

It’s named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger, two psychologists who performed groundbreaking research studies in the late 1990s that showed most people greatly misjudge themselves. 

In fact, Dunning and Kruger discovered that those who believe they are skilled or talented often are far worse than they think…

While those who doubt themselves and believe they’re not very skilled or capable are often far better than they realize…

What this means with regard to imposter syndrome is very important. 

Imposter syndrome is, at heart, an insecure trait. It stems from insecurity, which is something the vast majority of us experience at some times in life. 

But the good thing about insecurity is that as the Dunning-Kruger effect showed, it’s often those of us who are insecure and self-doubting who are actually more capable and intelligent than we realize. 

Your imposter syndrome is a sign that you are underestimating yourself. 

This leads directly to tip three. 

3) Accept what you’re feeling

Having low self-esteem or doubting yourself is hard and can be quite painful. There’s no doubt about that. 

But there’s one thing that’s worse than having low self-esteem or doubting yourself.

And that is hating yourself or feeling sad about having low self-esteem.

You need to accept it. 

You feel like an imposter. It’s hard, it hurts, you know everyone feels it sometimes, but that doesn’t take away the pain. 

How are you supposed to get through this time and just feel normal and competent?

Well, it starts by acknowledging and accepting that you are feeling unworthy

You don’t have to agree or disagree right now, just accept that this is a feeling and an anxiety you are having. 

Next up you can begin to actually confront it. 

4) Facts over feelings 

Next up in the best tips to overcome imposter syndrome and believe in yourself is to put facts over feelings. 

Many of us have feelings of self-doubt, unworthiness and anxiety, especially with regard to our work roles and relationships. 

We may feel we’re not good enough, or that we’ll be discovered as more or less not being as effective, “cool” or acceptable as we appear. 

The solution is not to just “psyche yourself up” or engage in positive thinking. 

It’s to disconnect for a moment from these doubts and fears and start looking at actual numbers, words and figures. 

The truth is that when you take a cold, hard look at your performance and at everything you contribute, you’ll often find that you’re much better than you realized. 

Are there things you can improve? I’m sure there are!

But don’t ever sell yourself short. 

Take a look at your real accomplishments, and don’t allow yourself to get lost in feelings of self-doubt and paranoia.

Martins again

“The next time you’re in a situation that makes you feel like an imposter, refer back to the facts vs. stories of the situation. 

“For example, if you felt bad after speaking up in a team meeting, focus on what your team members actually said.”

5) Don’t lock down

One of the things that often happens when you feel like an imposter is that you self-isolate. 

You try to put on a brave face and pretend everything’s fine. 

What, me worry?

But deep down you’re thinking “I’m not up to this. I’m a fake, I’m not good enough.” 

The fact is that self-isolating is one of the worst things that you can do when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome. 

This is a time to open up about what you’re going through to those close to you and your inner circle. 

It doesn’t have to be humiliating or intense, but you should at least admit to someone close to you about some of your doubts

You’ll often find that a second opinion or reassuring voice is well received. 

There’s no shame in admitting you’re feeling overwhelmed or unworthy. You’ll find that as you open up, other people also do the same with you and you realize how you are far from alone.

6) Change your frame

Imposter syndrome is a real thing. 

It’s destabilizing and uncomfortable. 

But even if there are many areas where you can improve, it’s not correct to say that you aren’t up to the task. 

Change your frame. 

Start opening your eyes and looking around at how many people have done what they “shouldn’t” have been able to do.

They succeeded in spite of labels and even sometimes despite being genuinely underqualified. 

Actions speak louder than words. 

You may doubt your worth, but there’s a reason you are where you are. 

If you’re in the gym feeling like “what am I doing here?” the answer is in the next bicep curl you do, not in some long over-analysis. 

Conquering all types of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome comes in many forms. 

Some are perfectionists and worry that they’ll never be able to do something up to the standard it needs to be done. 

Others are convinced that no matter how much they know about something it will be proven wrong or found to be incorrect. 

Still others suffer from worrying that they’re not up to carrying as much responsibility as they’ve been tasked with.

The good news is that everyone struggles with feelings like this from time to time. 

But it doesn’t make you any less valuable or competent. 

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