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March 15, 2023
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Shift Team

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Seven Ways to Deal with Self-Doubt and Conquer Imposter Syndrome 

Have you ever had the sense that you are inadequate? Do you often doubt yourself and lack self-assurance? While these emotions are normal, some people continue to experience them despite having achieved many accomplishments and the necessary qualifications. If this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon first described by Pauline Clance, a Ph.D. at Oberlin College, is characterized by people who have a hard time believing in their own values, talents, and abilities, and struggle to accept the praise of others. They often attribute their achievements to external factors or luck, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress, as they feel like frauds.

Occurrence of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome affects people of all backgrounds and professions, regardless of their accomplishments or qualifications, making it a common phenomenon. It is especially prevalent among high-achieving individuals, particularly women and minorities.

According to Ravindran's "Feeling Like A Fraud: The Impostor Phenomenon in Science Writing" (2016), nearly 70% of individuals may experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. This can significantly impact their self-esteem, mental health, and career success. Therefore, it's crucial to recognize the signs of imposter syndrome and learn tips to overcome it to achieve one's full potential.

How to recognize imposter syndrome

To recognize imposter syndrome, there are some signs to look out for, including:

·       Feeling like a fraud

·       Perfectionism

·       Minimizing accomplishments

·       Attributing success to external factors

·       Setting high standards

·       Constantly trying to prove one’s worth

Tips to overcome imposter syndrome

Fortunately, there are several tips that you can use to overcome imposter syndrome:

  1. Recognize the signs
    The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is to be aware of the signs and understand it's not a horrible mental health disorder. It is a common phenomenon many people may experience.


  1. Remember you're not alone
    It can be comforting to know that many celebrities have also experienced imposter syndrome, such as David Bowie, Emma Watson, and even Albert Einstein.
  • “I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing… I was driven to get through life very quickly… I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.” ----David Bowie
  • “Now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an imposter... Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.” ----Emma Watson
  • “I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” ----Albert Einstein


  1. Identify your strengths
    To break the cycle of imposter syndrome and build confidence in yourself, you need to be clear about your strengths, values, abilities, and talents. By doing so, you can be objective about who you are and what you are capable of. You can start by writing a list of your strengths and recognizing what you are good at.
  1.  Listen to compliments from others
    Acknowledging and accepting compliments from others may not be easy for you, but it is important to embrace them. Listen to friendly compliments from your friends, professors, colleagues, and family members, and recognize your strengths to build confidence.
  1. Reframe your thinking
    People with imposter syndrome are often afraid of failure, but it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. One failure does not prove that you are a fraud. Instead of viewing failure as evidence of your inadequacy, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  1. Talk about your concerns and feelings
    You can talk about your thoughts and feelings with others who also experience imposter syndrome, or share your opinions with trusted individuals who can provide unconditional support and reassurance.
  1. Seek professional help
    If imposter syndrome heavily affects your life, and you are constantly struggling with negative feelings and thoughts, seeking professional help from a therapist, social worker, or counsellor can be beneficial.

Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon, and it's possible to overcome. By recognizing it, knowing that you are not alone, reframing your thinking, and talking about your concerns, you can overcome imposter syndrome and build self-confidence.

My number one tip: Try starting today by making a list of your strengths and accomplishments!

This article was written by Jena Zhou during their time at Shift Collab.

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