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Realizing You’re Not a Fraud: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like an imposter at work? Like you’ve tricked your colleagues into believing in your skills and abilities? Well, you’re not alone. A 2019 review of studies suggested that anywhere from 9 to 82% of people report having thoughts along these lines. This review also found that imposter syndrome can affect anyone in any profession from students to executives. In order to overcome these feelings, you might end up working longer hours or holding yourself to higher standards. This can actually backfire, causing burnout and negatively affecting your emotional wellbeing and work performance.


So what does imposter syndrome feel like?


No matter how much praise you receive, you find yourself writing it off. You attribute your successes to good luck or good timing, not your actual talent. You believe that you are constantly tricking people. Consequently this causes you to put pressure on yourself to work harder to avoid being discovered as a “fraud.” Eventually you may become trapped in a cycle of work, praise and disbelief. 


Over time this can cause anxiety, depression and guilt. Imposter syndrome can worsen mental health symptoms and working harder won’t change your self-doubt. Instead try the following strategies:


Acknowledge your feelings

Sharing these kinds of feelings can help them feel less overwhelming.


Build connections

Avoid trying to do everything yourself. Turn to classmates, peers and coworkers to create a network of  support.


Challenge your doubts

When these feelings arise, ask yourself whether any facts support these beliefs. Then, look for pieces of information or evidence to counter them.


Avoid comparing yourself to others

Instead of allowing others’ success to put attention on your flaws, consider exploring ways to develop the abilities that are important to you.


If you continue to struggle with imposter feelings, you can get ongoing support and care for your behavioral health. Telehealth services can also be a stress-free and cost-effective way to get support for your mental and emotional well-being.