Imposter Syndrome Is Normal - Here's How To Beat It

In a culture that puts so much worth on what people do for a living, it's easy to have bouts of imposter syndrome. You can be great at your job, totally excelling in your career, but then that little voice inside your mind, the one that makes you second guess yourself, rears its ugly head and tries to convince you that you're a fraud, you're incompetent, and whatever expectations you have for yourself will never be achieved (via Verywell Mind). When imposter syndrome sets in, your self-esteem plummets, which makes you second guess yourself again. And round and round it goes.


One of the things to realize about imposter syndrome is not only that it's very real but also very normal. Lots of people have moments in their careers or in their lives where things are going great, but their internalized self-doubt can get in the way of them truly enjoying the success they not only earned but deserve.

"In our society there's a huge pressure to achieve," psychologist Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., tells the American Psychology Association. "There can be a lot of confusion between approval and love and worthiness. Self-worth becomes contingent on achieving." But just because you have imposter syndrome, either occasionally or all the time, there are ways to not just manage it, but beat it.


Recognize your imposter

Here's the thing: the imposter isn't you. In fact, it's not even a version of you. Instead, the imposter is that voice in your head that wants to taunt you into thinking negative thoughts about yourself and your worth. When that voice pipes up, you need to choose to listen to it or ignore it (via Self). If you know you're going to be put in a situation where your imposter is going to — surprise! — show up and shake your confidence until there's nothing left, be aware of that. Try to stay one step ahead of your imposter.


Will you always win against your imposter syndrome? No. But identifying it and knowing the circumstances under which it's most likely to creep on in and throw your thought process for a loop will keep you on your toes so you can better prepare to handle it, instead of succumbing to it. Self-awareness is a major step in getting imposter syndrome under control (via Psych Central).

Realize perfection is overrated

Those who suffer from imposter syndrome are usually well-educated, achievement-prone perfectionists who, from the outside, look like they have it all together (via Healthline). While striving to be perfect in our careers and in our lives can push us to reach our goals, the downside for the person with imposter syndrome is that they're never satisfied; even when they have accomplished something huge and are rewarded for it, they still want to do something even bigger. The perfectionist always wants more and wants better. Where most people would see success, a perfectionist will see failure.


When we put such extreme pressure on ourselves to reach something that actually might be unattainable, that's imposter syndrome hard at work. We've basically told ourselves that we're not good enough unless we've reached a certain goal, and because of this, we don't celebrate our achievements because nothing is ever good enough (via Medical News Today).

Know you're not the only one

Who suffers from imposter syndrome? Lots of people. In 2014, a study of 116 CEOs found that the top fear amongst the group was being discovered that they were a fraud or a phony (via Harvard Business Review). If that's the number one thing keeping CEOs up at night, then anyone, no matter what they do for a career, can certainly suffer from imposter syndrome. 


When you have it all, it only makes sense that the idea of failure could cause mental and emotional distress (via Healthline). But it's important to know you're not alone. Not only are there thousands of people walking around out there with imposter syndrome, but for centuries before and for centuries that follow, there will always be these types of people. If you understand that imposter syndrome is both real and normal amongst high-achievers, then maybe you can help yourself accept what you're capable of and bask in the glory of your accomplishments for a change.

Stop comparing yourself to others

When it comes to success and achievements it can be hard to not compare ourselves to others — and social media has certainly amplified this for all of us. If someone gets a promotion, a person with imposter syndrome will immediately tell themselves they weren't good enough and they need to step it up, even if they're at the top of their game. This thinking contributes to the mindset that they're not as smart or as competent as others (via Psychology Today). But the thing with people who suffer from imposter syndrome is that they are intelligent, competent, and actually quite successful.


"True imposters don't have this feeling," psychologist Susan Albers, Psy.D., tells the Cleveland Clinic. In other words, if you weren't the intelligent, accomplished person that you actually are, you'd never have to deal with imposter syndrome. This would be a good thing in some ways, but, in other ways, it would mean that you're not really as successful and talented as you are.

Understand what it's doing to your mental health

Constantly feeling like you're a fraud isn't just bad for your self-esteem but also for your mental health. Always feeling like a failure and thinking you lack the ability and skills you actually have can lead to anxiety and depression, or worsen anxiety and depression in those who already have it (via Verywell Mind). In some cases, imposter syndrome can lead to neurosis and social anxiety too. No one can berate themselves incessantly and come out of it okay — not even those with the thickest of skin.


While you may not be able to manage these outcomes of your imposter syndrome on your own, a professional therapist can offer the insight you need to harness it and use it for good. "The goal is not to never feel like an impostor. The goal for me is to give [people] the tools and the insight and information to talk themselves down faster," psychologist Audrey Ervin tells Time Magazine. "They can still have an impostor moment, but not an impostor life."

So, yes, there's hope for all of you out there thinking you're imposters. Although, FYI, you aren't.