7 Tips to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome


58% of employees in tech suffer from impostor syndrome. 

Impostors are people who have usually built their success in life on a lie. Thus, they often pretend to own things or have social positions that do not exist in such a way. This is often done with the intention of deception. They often pretend to be experts in a particular field.

The impostor syndrome, on the other hand, is actually just the opposite: 
Doubt about one’s own abilities and achievements.

What Is The Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome describes self-doubt regarding one’s abilities, achievements, and successes. People who are affected by this psychological disorder often consider themselves to be impostors and believe that they have not deserved their successes.
In some cases, the impostor syndrome can take on such extreme proportions that those affected develop a real fear of being exposed as impostors at some point and losing their success. This fear is unfounded and usually not based on facts.

The impostor syndrome is in summary approximately the opposite of a real impostor. While an impostor himself pretends to possess material things, skills, and qualifications that he does not have, people with impostor syndrome believe that they wrongly possess these things and have not earned their success in life.

What Are Characteristics and Causes of Impostor Syndrome?

The impostor syndrome can have a wide variety of characteristics. Not every characteristic must be present in every case, but the following list helps to provide an overview. Possible characteristics are:

  • Self-doubt
  • Unable to assess own competencies correctly
  • Blaming luck and other external factors for one’s success
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Perfectionism
  • Overload
  • Low self-confidence
  • High demands on oneself
  • Fear of failure

While the characteristics of the impostor syndrome are quite easy to determine, the causes are more difficult. The causes are always individual. This is based on own experiences, childhood, or simply their personality. Self-doubt can also be genetically determined. It is assumed that women and people with a higher level of education are affected more often than others. A study at Brigham Young University found that about 20% of all participants were affected by impostor syndrome.

Another study at the University of Edinburgh found that the corona pandemic is one of the reasons for the increased incidence of impostor syndrome. Thus, social distancing and working in a home office play a major role. Not being able to share or compare notes with others or receive compliments and recognition for work accomplished has a strong impact on people’s psyche.

If you need tips on how to make work in a home office more pleasant and productive despite social distancing, you can find exciting ideas on the subject in this article.

Impostor Syndrome,Corona, Quote

What Are the Consequences of Impostor Syndrome?

The impostor syndrome can have various effects. On the one hand, it can trigger psychological problems, such as permanent stress. Furthermore, however, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, social isolation, or even headaches and stomachaches can be possible consequences. In extreme cases, it can also lead to burnout.

In principle, professional help should be sought in such cases.

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How Can I Overcome Impostor Syndrome?

In general, professional help is often the better way for mental illnesses and problems. Experts and psychiatrists are familiar with mental illnesses, such as impostor syndrome, and can provide appropriate assistance for each individual.

However, the following tips can help calm yourself down and create awareness of your situation.

Recognition of Impostor Syndrome

“Insight is the first step”. Anyone who recognizes early on that they have problems with recognizing their successes or have too high expectations of themselves should consider being affected by impostor syndrome.
It is important to accept this and not start denying it to avoid further and deeper problems.

Sharing With Friends

Outsiders often have a more objective view of situations and can help to find possible solutions to one’s suffering. Especially in times of the pandemic, it is important to communicate regularly with friends and acquaintances despite social distancing to keep important social interactions alive. This can also be an important measure for depression or other mental illnesses.

Focus on Facts

As a rule, self-doubts are unfounded and not based on facts. So, if you are affected by impostor syndrome, focus on facts that you have achieved in your career. Illustrating these in the form of success charts or mind maps is often helpful in realizing that you deserve the success.
You can also try to find evidence that you are an impostor. Since the impostor syndrome is usually not based on facts, you will not find any evidence of that effect.

Be Optimistic

That may sound trivial in the first place, but can make a crucial difference in the psyche. Try to get a different perspective on things and especially focus on the positive aspects of your work. It can also help to put yourself in the shoes of co-workers or superiors and look at your work from different eyes.

Search for a Mentor

It can help to further develop one’s skills to counteract the impostor syndrome. Having a mentor is therefore advisable. Someone you look up to and who works in the same field as you. They can give you advice, tips, and support.

In this article, you will find tips and tricks for finding a suitable mentor.

Learn From Others

The focus here is not on comparing yourself with others, such as employees. Rather, you can learn how others deal with problems and challenges through exchange with others. Realizing that no one is perfect and that everyone has their problems to deal with shows that you don’t have to be perfect yourself.

In addition, you can learn from team members and apply any tips and assistance they use to yourself.

Reward Success

Also, reward small successes. This way, you can better record when you have achieved something or completed something. This also strengthens your self-confidence and encourages you to believe that you deserve to be where you are right now.


The most important thing is that you acknowledge and accept psychological problems. These should not be ignored, as this can lead to much bigger problems later on.
Find friends, acquaintances, or contacts and talk to them about impostor syndrome. In addition, you can help yourself by keeping facts in mind writing down, and rewarding your successes.
In addition, external parties, such as managers, can also help prevent mental illness.
It can help to set clear expectations for employees, act as a point of contact, provide feedback and inquire about employee well-being.
You can also help yourself if you recognize that teammates or acquaintances are suffering from impostor syndrome. Be there as a point of contact and try to steer sufferers toward facts.

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Sören Elser ElevateX GmbH

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Sören Elser

Co-founder of ElevateX GmbH and your contact for the strategic use of freelancers.

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