Imposter Syndrome

I have decided to write this post to highlight imposter syndrome in all it's glory, it is widespread among all of us at one time or another and I believe its important that it is brought into the open and not be a taboo subject, so people can feel reassured, and find ways to combat and overcome, or just manage the feelings that are associated with imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome

  • A dictionaries definition of imposter syndrome is :

    • The persistent inability to believe that ones success is deserved, or has been legitimately achieved as a result of ones own effort or skills.
  • Imposter syndrome is the feeling of inadequacy, self doubt, or insecurity that can prevent us from achieving our goals.

  • People who suffer with imposter syndrome often feel like they are not worthy of their achievement, and do not belong in position of power and success.

  • People may feel like they have been lucky, or have deceived others into thinking they are more competent than they are.

  • Imposter syndrome is a common feeling among high achievers, although it can affect people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

  • Imposter syndrome can occur in any variety of situations, from job interviews, public speaking, completing projects to gaining certifications.

  • Imposter syndrome can fuel sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, psychological distress, insecurity, poor work satisfaction, performance, and even giving up your dreams.


  • Before you can overcome imposter syndrome you have to acknowledge and recognise its characteristics.

  • common characteristics include:

    • self- doubt
    • sabotaging own success
    • low self esteem
    • fear of failure
    • undervaluing contributions
    • overworking
    • not accepting recognition for achievements
    • comparing self to others
    • giving up

Types of imposter syndrome

  • There are seven types of imposter syndrome.

1. The perfectionist

  • This type has to be sure everything gets done with perfection, achieving an outcome or completing a task is never enough, a perfectionist is always hungry for more success or better outcomes.

  • The underlying emotion involved with this type is the fear of losing control.

  • Signs you may be a perfectionist include:

    • micromanaging everything
    • inability to delegate
    • obsessing over little details
    • struggling with decision making
    • high standards, and unrealistic expectations
    • fear of failure or making mistakes
  • How to deal with perfectionism This involves a process of self-awareness, self compassion, and to embrace imperfection. To escape the grips of perfectionism you need to try setting realistic goals, and expectations, practice self- care and prioritize progress over perfection.

  • suggestions as to how to implement these things:

    • Notice and acknowledge your perfectionist thoughts, give them a reality check with a cost-benefit analysis of what your perfectionism costs you in time and energy.
    • Relax your standards, failure means you are trying and is sometimes necessary on the road to a greater success.
    • Remember your strengths instead of your weaknesses
    • Allow room for imperfection, and giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to work on a project ready for submission.

2. The superhuman

This type thrive in their ability to take on a lot of work in a short period of time. They work overtime to achieve the validation of colleagues and managers.

  • Superhumans try to do more and more, they are high achievers who put incredible pressure on themselves to excel in all areas of life to justify their accomplishments and success.

  • The underlying emotion of this type is fear of free time and taking time away from work for personal fulfilment.

Signs you may be superhuman may include:

  • self critical

  • may not handle constructive criticism well

  • stressed when not working

  • feeling guilty for taking breaks or enjoying leisure activities

  • put pressure yourself to perform at your best

  • How to deal with being a superhuman:

    • recognise that doing everything well is not a realistic goal, everyone makes mistakes and has failures.
    • reframe how you think about your achievements, acknowledge personal strengths and hard work instead of looking at external factors.
    • recognize that productivity and self worth are not linked set realistic expectations for yourself and allow time for self-care and relaxation.

3. The natural genius

This type of imposter syndrome is characterized by somebodies belief that their success is solely based on their natural talent or intelligence. Things tend to have success without really trying, and so tend to set impossibly high standards for themselves.

  • signs you may be a natural genius
    • success has come easily to you in the past
    • Self confidence suffers when you are faced with a setback
    • belief that success comes from an inherent ability, not hard work and practice
    • high standards for yourself
    • critical of perceived obstacles that may impede your success

underlying emotion for this type is a shame of failing

  • How to deal with being a natural genius
    • Learn to acknowledge that things take hard work, practice, time and opportunity instead of the belief it is natural talent and intelligence
    • set realistic expectations that there is time when you will fail, or have setbacks
    • reframe your negative self talk and use self-reflection to identify strengths and weakness for a more realistic view of your abilities
    • Try being a work in progress instead of a genius 😊

4. The soloist

This type of imposter syndrome is characterized by feelings of independence and the need to achieve things on their own, asking for help is classed as a sign of weakness to this type, resulting in isolation, being overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt and a feeling of being exposed for what they can or cannot do.

The underlying emotion for this type is a shame in asking for help.

  • signs you may be a soloist include:

    • feeling uneasy when needing to rely on others for help
    • feeling a need to accomplish everything on your own
    • feeling incompetent when you need help
    • struggling to network
    • difficulty in accepting constructive criticism
  • How to deal with a soloist type

    • identify the root cause of why you need to be so independent
    • learn to build a support network
    • try to delegate
    • practice self compassion
    • celebrate successes

5. The expert

This type is most common with people with a specialized knowledge, like people with advanced degrees, such as doctors or lawyers. This type believe they should know everything about their chosen field because of the time and effort put into education and training.

the underlying emotion of this type is a fear of inadequacy

  • Signs you may be an expert may include:

    • compulsive need to have all knowledge and experience before attempting something i.e. a job
    • critical of others who work to learn
    • cannot recognise that certainty and having all the answers are not always expected
    • feeling like you have to master every step in a process
    • constantly pursuing training and certifications
    • feeling like a fraud despite having the expertise
    • a struggle with procrastination because of being overwhelmed
  • How to deal with the expert type:

    • actively seek opportunity for growth and learning
    • create a support network to help put things into a reality perspective when struggling or feeling venerable.
    • recognise your successes and achievements and appreciate your progress.

6. The noticer

This type of imposter syndrome the person cannot be proud of their work as they immediately notice things that still aren't perfect.

The underlying emotion from this type is fear of not belonging

  • signs you may be a noticer include:

    • forgiving of others mistakes but not themselves
    • feeling of relief when a tough project ends rather than elated
    • has a hyper awareness of the competition and believes they always 'miss the bar'
  • How to deal with the noticer type:

    • create a support network, to openly talk through things with people you trust.
    • Allow yourself to make the small mistakes and accept that nobody is perfect.
    • celebrate your success and achievements

7. The discounter

This type of imposter syndrome an individual automatically rationalizes away evidence of their own competence, achievement or high regard.

The underlying emotion for this type is that of not being enough

  • signs you may suffer from being a discounter include:

    • Not trusting their network of supporters
    • doubting the quality or level of competition in any effort that you succeed at
    • ashamed to share something 'anyone can do'.
  • how to deal with the discounter type:

    • self reflection can be useful to give yourself a reality check
    • allow yourself to celebrate your achievements and accomplishments
    • really trust a few close friends, family or peers when they congratulate you

Final advice

  • When dealing with any type of imposter syndrome it is important to acknowledge it. Here are some final tips to help deal with any type of imposter syndrome

  • Assess the evidence

    • Making a 2 column list 1 side with evidence I am inadequate and the other side evidence I am competent can really bring things into perspective, you can collect acknowledge and reflect on your competency
  • Refocus on values

    • Take your focus away from outward signs of success or achievement and remind yourself of what really matters to you.
  • Reframe around growth

    • Your life and career are a journey a marathon not a sprint, you cant grow, learn or make progress without stretching yourself.
  • Get out of your head

    • A pattern of circling thoughts go hand in hand with imposter syndrome, talk to someone, write your fears down, they are less powerful in reality
  • Practice self compassion

    • Don't beat yourself up for feeling like a fraud, when you understand where the doubt and inadequacy comes from give yourself credit for how far you have come on your journey.
  • Be kind to yourself

    • You are human, we are meant to make mistakes, they help us learn and grow.
  • Keep failure in perspective

    • try learning from your failures instead of letting your failures define you.
  • Seek trusted feedback from your network

    • Make a practice of periodically getting feedback from people you trust and respect, knowing you have a source of meaningful feedback helps you to stop wondering what everyone else is thinking of you.
  • Last but by no means least remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I hope you have found this article useful be kind, make mistakes and best of all be human ❤

Self HelpAdviceImposter SyndromeCommon
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Written by Lisa Tinmurth


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