Don't be an impostor - the Impostor Syndrome

Reading time 8 minutes
Don't be an impostor - the Impostor Syndrome

Again, you did a good job. But is it true? And even if it was: Wasn't it just a matter of luck? Constant self-doubt is a sign of impostor syndrome. It's not because you're an impostor - it's because you're afraid that you'll be exposed as an impostor. In fact, you are competent and hard-working.
You don't trust your competence and performance? In the long run, this has a negative effect on your mood. Again and again you put yourself under pressure. Soon your colleagues will realize that you don't have a clue and that you're an impostor, and then you'll be in trouble.

Really? No, that doesn't match reality. Learn more about the traps of impostor syndrome and strengthen your Self-confidence. It's the only way to get up the career ladder without stressing yourself out too much.

What is impostor syndrome?

Those who suffer from impostor syndrome are plagued with massive self-doubt. This psychological phenomenon is also known as impostor syndrome. Paradoxical as it may sound, it is often successful, capable managers who doubt themselves. Those affected find it difficult to acknowledge their own achievements. They feel like impostors and think that they only make a career by chance or luck. They have the feeling that their colleagues and acquaintances overestimate their abilities immeasurably - and do not realize that they underestimate themselves. This leads to the fear of being exposed as an impostor - as shown by the following Study ...that's what I'm talking about.

Features of the impostor syndrome

Some people are totally convinced of themselves. The typical example is the big mouth with nothing behind it: That's exactly what an impostor looks like. But the impostor syndrome is the opposite: Here the mouth is small, and there is a lot behind it.

However, anyone who permanently hides their performance under a bushel is not doing themselves any favors. In addition, there is the fear of exposure: The praise of others seems undeserved. Are you constantly doubting yourself and standing in your own way? Then it's time to do something about it.

Especially in the working world, the idea of performance counts. Here, the impostor syndrome leads to an increased stress level. You put yourself under more and more pressure to live up to the recognition of your colleagues and your boss. But it's never enough - at least that's how it feels to you. In your private life, too, the Self-doubt Trigger stress symptoms and depressive moods.

impostor syndrome opposite

The 5 types of Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome can manifest in five different ways. Sometimes it occurs in the following Typings to overlap.

  1. Perfectionists set themselves extremely high goals and feel confirmed in their doubts if they do not achieve them. This increases their fear of losing their job. When these people reach their elusive goal, they believe that anyone could have done it.
  2. The workhorse - superman or superwoman - takes on a lot of work. Overtime is supposed to compensate for the supposed inadequacy.
  3. A natural thinks he is basically competent and believes that everything comes to him. People who think they are born Genius therefore hardly develop further. They believe that they do not need to learn - that would be a sign of inability.
  4. Soloists or lone warriors believe that they have to do everything on their own. In a work team, they find it difficult to value their own work and that of others. A soloist as a leader has problems with Delegate, moreover, he does not like to listen to the opinion of other people.
  5. Experts believe that they have a high level of competence in their field. For them, their own know-how is the benchmark for success. However, they strive for further training and certificates: These certificates are proof of their knowledge.

The most common causes of impostor syndrome: why do people suffer from it?

Psychological studies indicate that the causes of impostor syndrome often lie in childhood. Children with a healthy Self-esteem rarely feel like impostors later on. Unfortunately, there are many parents who only encourage their children when they perform well. These children feel inferior when they Poor grades bring home.

Sometimes the Impostor Syndrome also arises from too much praise from parents. At home, the child still feels flattered, but at school he notices that others are much better. This weakens the Self-confidence.
Did your parents tell you that you are special? - That's true, too, because every person is an individual personality. But along with the growing demands at school, in training and at work, an enormous amount of pressure builds up. You want to continue to be special. That leads directly into the Perfectionism into it. But people are not perfect, and so the typical feeling of inadequacy arises.

Some self-doubt is natural. But constant criticism of yourself wears you down. Anyone who underestimates his own abilities and talks himself down will always have problems - even if his career is going uphill.

Quick check: Do I have Impostor Syndrome?

Before the presentation you get nervous, the retraining worries you: is this still normal or do you have impostor syndrome? With the following Beliefs you will find out. The more statements you agree with, the more likely you are to be affected by Impostor Syndrome. "I ...":

  • Am not smart/strong/good enough.
  • Can't really get excited about successes.
  • Don't need help - and only ask for it in an emergency.
  • Afraid someone will recognize me as an impostor.
  • Think my colleagues/acquaintances overestimate me.
  • Can't handle compliments.

Remember, it's about your own mental health and self-esteem. The next questions will also help you analyze your doubts.

  • How often do I refuse help even though I could use it?
  • Do I often pretend to be stronger than I am to other people?
  • How often do I have something successful even though I was afraid of failure?
  • Am I afraid of too much praise because it only raises expectations?
  • Am I afraid that the others will eventually expose me as an impostor?
  • Do I believe that I have only achieved success by luck and chance?
  • Am I afraid that my achievements are not worth anything?
  • Are my memories of my failures stronger than those of my successes?

7 Tips: How to deal with impostor syndrome

What to do about impostor syndrome? First of all, it is important to recognize your own inner attitude. Once you have seen through the problem, the first step has been taken.

However, impostor syndrome does not go away on its own. You may need professional help. But the fears and feelings of inferiority can also be reduced through personal development. It is good to know that the feelings are normal to a certain extent.

The following seven tips will get you further:

  1. Focus on the facts. Due to the impostor syndrome you believe your achievements are not good enough. Analyze the facts and separate your feelings from them. Then you will recognize your real successes.
  2. Collect evidence. Look at your accomplished goals. The last work project is completed, the long report finished: These are concrete evidence of your good performance.
  3. Talk about your feelings. Leaders also need trusted people with whom they can talk about their fears and complexes. Even if you don't think you deserve your professional success: In conversation, you realize that others feel the same way. But if you keep hiding your problems, they will continue to grow until they are almost impossible to manage.
  4. Sort out your thoughts. Inner criticism is one thing, but negative self-talk pulls you into a vortex that can make you depressed. Observe your inner voice and change it into a positive one. Over time, you'll learn to handle stressful situations better. This technique leads to more relaxation in the long run.
  5. Find a role model or mentor. This can be your boss or a colleague. A person in your field helps with practical tips and gives you good support. You might also look up to a leader in another company or a celebrity. When you emulate your role model, however, you should remain realistic. That way, you can improve your skills without becoming a perfectionist.
  6. Don't compare yourself - but learn from others. Colleagues last longer at the screen or seem relaxed Multitasking to complete? Focus on your skills. You can learn certain tricks, but everyone has their own way of working and special talents.
  7. Celebrate your successes. You have a Target reached and feel the impostor syndrome breathing down your neck? Don't let it get to you and toast your success with your team. Enjoy the celebration with your colleagues or with your family without feeling like an impostor.

Basic questions to yourself

By thinking fundamentally about yourself, many psychological problems can be solved. However, especially in a stressful job often lacks the Rest for the inner Strengthening. It is so important to be at peace with oneself.

Do you often make yourself smaller than you are? Do you hide your light under a bushel? Do you feel like you always have to deliver even more performance in order to happy to be?

Free yourself from doubts and the fear of possibly looking like an impostor. Realize what you have already achieved. Your job, your family, your sporting successes - all this is just a lucky coincidence? Sounds rather unlikely.

On the career path, there are many milestones that are clearly more than just markers. Every single step upwards is an important success. If you make yourself aware of this, you will overcome your self-doubt.
If inner conversations and thought processes do not help you, you may be suffering from serious complexes. In this case you need professional psychotherapy. Depending on your situation, you may also need a targeted Coaching help

Executive and impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome occurs in a surprisingly large number of managers. These feel they are under particular pressure because they are afraid to confide in anyone. They think: I can't do all this at all and one day I'll be exposed as an impostor.

Such self-doubt can successful entrepreneurs into despair. Those affected suffer from the extreme stress. Recognition seems undeserved to them, because they see themselves as failures. The impostor syndrome among managers can become a vicious circle: Even more performance, even more training, overtime, responsibility for the entire team - until the stress leads to a breakdown. In the worst case, executives take performance-enhancing drugs and suffer from sleep disorders.

It's hard to get out of it. The problem is: From the outside, managers appear to be winners. Behind the facade, the soul suffers. It is precisely this discrepancy between outward appearance and inner life that exacerbates self-doubt. This makes it all the more important for executives with impostor syndrome to get help. However, this requires a certain amount of self-awareness - and the desire to change something.

How to overcome the impostor syndrome

Impostor or impostor syndrome is not a disorder requiring therapy, according to psychologists. The Self-reflection and inner criticism basically has a positive effect on personal development. But when doubts get out of hand, you need a clear line to overcome the impostor syndrome.
In the free Career Workbook of Greator you will find helpful tips for your professional career. With the Coaching methods you improve your skills - without self-doubt and imposture.

Are you already in?


Experience Europe's largest festival for personal development, fulfillment, business success and sustainability LIVE in Cologne! You can expect +150 speakers +10,000 participants +6 stages 


10 Business Coaching Tips for Your Career

You want to get to the next level in your job faster?

Then get 10 free tips to help you succeed in management and leadership now!
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

Like this article? Don't forget to share!

Recommended by Greator

Greator SloganGreator Awards
Data privacy
Cookie settings
© copyright by Greator 2024