When you think about your greatest achievements do you feel accomplished or a fraud? Do
you feel you just got lucky and were in the right time or place? Do you attribute your
success to others or external factors? If you answered yes to any of these questions you
may well have imposter syndrome and not even know it!
In this blog we’re going to explore what imposter syndrome is, how to recognise it and most
importantly I’ll provide you with some top tips on how to ditch your imposter syndrome so
you can own your success.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is that overwhelming feeling that you don’t deserve success. You
convince yourself you’re not creative, intelligent or talented and that any success you’ve
had is just down to luck or being in the right place at the right time. That one day you’re
going to get caught out and be exposed as a fraud.
It can be linked to other feelings of self-doubt, such as fear of success, fear of failure of fear
When I got my first paid coaching clients, I noticed my imposter syndrome creeping in. The
internal critic in my head (I’ve named him Stan) would tell me that I’m not a good enough coach. That I don’t know my stuff, even though I got positive feedback from my clients and I
could see the results I was creating for my clients.
Imposter syndrome often appears when you get a promotion, start a new job, get an award,
take on paid clients, etc. Basically, something that pushes you out of your comfort zone and
has you questioning your credibility and ability.
The more you buy into your imposter syndrome the more your self-doubt increases. This
then affects your ambition and your ability to achieve your goals. If you’ve got an inner critic
telling you that you can’t do it, that you just got lucky, that you’re a fraud then you’re less
likely to take the action needed to achieve your goals.
How to recognise if you have imposter Syndrome
It’s not always easy to recognise when you have imposter syndrome, that’s why I’ve put
together five patterns below to watch out for.
Self-doubt – When you suffer from imposter syndrome your lack of confidence is constant
and pervasive. You’ll have thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve this’ or ‘I’m not good enough’.
Perfectionism – Those with a perfectionist nature often suffer from imposter syndrome as
they set unrealistically high goals for themselves and then feel shame or disappointment
when they fail.
Being called out – One of the characteristics of imposter syndrome is being haunted by the
fear that you’re constantly going to get ‘called out’ or ‘discovered’ as a fraud. This can result
in people pushing themselves extremely hard in order to prevent being exposed while
refusing to accept that their efforts are good enough.
Not owning your success – Down-playing your success and being consumed with negative
self-talk from your inner critic. Convincing themselves that they don’t deserve success and
passing off challenging tasks as ‘easy’ so as to not accept their achievement.
If you recognise any of these characteristics in yourself then you my friend are suffering
from imposter syndrome. The good news is you can do something about it!
Three ways to ditch your imposter syndrome
The following section will give you some useful tips to overcome imposter syndrome and
recognise and accept your success and achievements.
Acknowledge your feelings – Accepting how you’re feeling and why is a great first step to
overcoming imposter syndrome. A useful method is to journal your thoughts. Grab yourself
a nice notebook and when your inner critic pops up insisting that ‘you’re a fraud’ reach for
your pad and jot down your thoughts about why you feel like this. Be as specific as possible,
reflect on your negative statement and counteract it with a positive statement.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses – By becoming more aware of your strengths
and weakness you’ll be able to increase your confidence. Again, grab a pad and this time set
a timer for 20 minutes and brainstorm all your strengths and weaknesses. You might at first
have a list of weaknesses that is longer than your strengths.
If you get stuck, speak to friends and family members as they’ll see strengths in you that you
won’t necessarily see in yourself. When you have a better understanding of your strengths
and weaknesses, or areas of development as I like to call them, you’ll spend less time
worrying about your achievements.
Own your successes – Instead of rejecting compliments and attributing your success to
others or external factors, start to enjoy your success. You can do this by getting into the
habit of visualising your success in advance. This is a great thing to incorporate into your
morning routine for a couple of minutes each day. Also, keep a record of positive feedback
that you receive and practice listening to praise and accepting the compliment.
I hope you found this blog useful and can now recognise where you’re holding yourself back
and how you can ditch your imposter syndrome and own your success and achievements
If you’d like to find out more about how I support assistants with their confidence and self-
belief then you can follow me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/suzieflynncoaching, on
LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/in/suzieflynn or make your way on over to my website at
Photo credit: Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash