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Why Impostor Syndrome Is Killing Your Vibe and 7 Ways to Manage It

Have you ever felt like you are going to 'get caught' because you don't deserve to be where you are? Ever receive a promotion that you feel like you didn't really deserve, or that you weren't ready for? Think about your job, your lifestyle, your family life, etc. any part of you that is constantly questioned. Are you putting so much pressure on yourself to be the best that it is literally paralyzing you from taking that next step?

You are not alone.

I can remember the first time feeling this way when I received my first big promotion and after talking to many of my friends about it, I realized that they have gone through this before without even realizing that it was actually a thing. Many women go through what is coined, 'impostor syndrome' which is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

70% of millennials in this country have had feelings or symptoms of impostor syndrome, which include anxiety, perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear of failure. The good news is that it is possible to deal with it and not let it control your life.

Here are 7 Tips for Managing Impostor Syndrome.


1) Know when it happens and catch yourself.

It can be pretty easy for us to overlook the signs of impostor syndrome that come up in our day-to-day lives. However, recognizing these signs is the first step toward overcoming them. A few common symptoms of impostor syndrome look a little bit like this:

  • You feel like you "got lucky" when you actually prepared well and worked hard to get where you are.

  • You find it hard to accept praise.

  • You apologize when you didn't actually do something wrong.

  • You hold yourself to incredibly high standards. Sometimes, too high.

  • You find the fear of failure paralyzing.

  • You're convinced you're not enough.

Pay attention to the words you use, both when you're talking to other people and when you're talking to yourself -- especially when it comes to talking about work. If you find your own success or the recognition that others give you uncomfortable, it's time to self reflect. Where are those thoughts coming from? What does this mean for your professional life? I like to take time writing down some of these thoughts in my journal so I can actively work through these areas and end with positive affirmations.

When you have impostor syndrome, some of the most important encouragement comes from realizing how many hugely successful people, both male and female, have built amazing careers even while regularly coping with it. You'd be surprised to know how many highly accomplished people have spoken about their impostor syndrome. Here are a few quotes from The New York Times and Forbes:

  • Author, Poet & Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'"

  • Chief of the World Health Organization Dr. Chan: “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”