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Home I may have impostor syndrome! How can I build confidence, especially in my career?

I may have impostor syndrome! How can I build confidence, especially in my career?


Are you a high achiever? Are you in a cycle of doubting your intelligence, fearing that you are inadequate for your role, and overworking so that you can feel better? Do you often feel that what good things you have now you got because you were lucky, or you were just at the right place and time? Maybe you are experiencing impostor syndrome. 

 History of Impostor Syndrome

In 1978,  psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes introduced the world to the phrase “impostor phenomenon” when they published a study recognizing the serious problems of high-achieving women. 

In the 1978 study, the researchers found that many of the women participants were exposed to a home environment where:

  • their intelligence was overshadowed because they were labeled as “sensitive” or social adept family members, while other siblings were labeled as the “more intelligent” family members, and
  • they were expected to be great at every area of life that often led to pressure to appear and act “perfect” at everything. 

However when these high-achieving women face the reality of their limitations and weaknesses, the illusion of being perfect crashes and they feel as if they are impostors, just pretending to be someone else and not deserving of the good things in their lives.

Common symptoms of impostor syndrome

Since its discovery in 1978, research studies have expanded the knowledge we have now about this syndrome. 

    1. Impostor cycle. When a person with impostor syndrome (IS) is faced with a task, the first response is either over-preparation or procrastination. Those that over prepare feel they are impostors because they think they have to put in more effort to achieve results. Meanwhile, those who procrastinate feel like impostors because they fear people would find out about their ‘last minute’ preparation. After the task, both feel relief from success, but it is brief. Then they feel more anxious and fearful until they have to do another task.
  • An unrealistic drive to achieve perfection
    1. The need to be the best at everything
  • Fear of failure
  • Downplaying of competence and capability
  • Fear of success 

How to manage symptoms of Impostor Syndrome

If your symptoms of IS are already affecting your quality of life, it is recommended for you to talk to a licensed mental health professional so that an assessment could be done. The treatment and management of IS will vary depending on how much of a person’s quality of life is affected. 

These can include: 

  • Self-reflection
  • Counseling sessions
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications if there are other medical conditions 
  • Gratitude exercises

Self-care for People with Impostor Syndrome

Since IS symptoms have a lot to do with how a person thinks, there are self-care strategies to help them promote a positive mental wellbeing. 

  • Start by reassuring yourself that you have earned your place in your school, career, etc. through your consistent effort
  • Identify where your insecurities lie, so that you can cut negative thoughts before they lead to more anxiety or fear. 
  • Prevent your symptoms from worsening by identifying signs of anxiety or burnout. (Being easily exhausted, increased criticism towards your work, decreased effectiveness in what you do) 
  • Care for your wellbeing by implementing basic healthy lifestyle habits like taking days off, doing your hobbies, getting enough sleep and physical activity, eating healthy, etc. When you are taking care of your body and mind, you are more capable of dealing with stressors. 

Everyone who wants to achieve their success puts in the time and effort, and you are no different. You are your best advocate and best caretaker, so work on building your self confidence and enjoy your journey to success! 

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I may have impostor syndrome! How can I build confidence, especially in my career?
Brandon Resasco