You’ve just got that great promotion you’ve been after, but you can hear a nagging little voice inside your head – one that’s making you question the whole thing. “Are you really good enough to be here? Are you actually as competent as you made out in that interview? You know it’s just a matter of time before you’re found out…” and that sneaky little voice is imposter syndrome. 
 
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing what you do, whether you’re a man or woman, older or younger. Anyone can fall victim to imposter syndrome – but with the right tools, anyone can silence it too. Let’s look at how it can manifest itself, and what you can do to put it back in its box. 

Signs of Imposter Syndrome 

As well as whispering away in that nagging little voice, imposter syndrome can pop its head up in these ways, as well: 
 
You find it hard to believe positive feedback about yourself, or accept praise about your performance and achievements 
You blame yourself when things go wrong; and if they go well, you put it down it to someone else, or just getting lucky 
You worry that somehow you’ll be found out – that someone will ‘unmask’ you as incompetent 
You set yourself high standards – some might say impossibly high – and you end up working long hours, over-preparing, and criticising yourself about meeting them 
You think that you don’t know enough to be the expert in your field 
You feel you ought to get everything right first time – and that struggling to learn something could be a sign of incompetence 
You worry that accepting help to get a job done is a sign that you can’t do it yourself, so you will often refuse offers of help or input from others. 

Causes of Imposter Syndrome 

Many things can make you more susceptible to imposter syndrome effects, and it’s more common that you might think. It could come from beliefs you’ve brought with you from childhood - if you were a high achiever who regularly did well, finding something to be a challenge can trigger feelings of inadequacy, because you’re just not used to struggling. Similarly, if you were often criticised or stereotyped, that can create a persistent belief for the rest of your life. 
 
Imposter syndrome can also be triggered by a change in your circumstances. You may be out of the workplace due to illness or childcare, and this can mean your confidence takes a big dip - and a feeling that you’ve fallen behind others who’ve stayed. 
 
Social media doesn’t help, either – it’s a huge enabler for comparing yourself with others, and feeling that you come up short, as is any professional environment that revolves around competition with co-workers and competitor businesses. 
 
So what can you do about it? 

 Challenging Imposter Syndrome 

Imposter syndrome is not easy to break, usually because it’s born out of long-term habits and attitudes. But it can be done: here are four tips for talking back to that inner voice, to make a start on shouting it down. 
 
Acknowledge your achievements: Imposter syndrome can make you overlook what you’re proud of. Keep a record of your achievements, skills, and positive feedback, and reflect on them regularly to remind yourself of your capabilities and the hard work you've put in. 
 
Focus on growth, not perfection: start reinforcing to yourself that making mistakes and facing setbacks are natural parts of any learning process or career path. Instead of seeing failure as a reflection of incompetence, view it as an opportunity to do better another time. Focus on growing and improving rather than achieving some state of perfection, and you’ll actually accomplish a lot more. 
 
Challenge negative self-talk: Pay attention to that sneaky little voice when it pipes up, and actively talk back to it. When you catch yourself thinking self-deprecating thoughts or discounting your accomplishments, reframe them with kinder and more positive statements: so “You really messed that meeting up,” turns into “That meeting didn’t go quite as I hoped, but next time I’ll do this differently.” Remind yourself that it's okay to have doubts, but they don't define your worth, abilities and how far you’ve already come. 
 
Seek support and validation: Imposter syndrome thrives in isolation. Share your feelings with trusted friends, family members, mentors, or colleagues, all of whom can provide encouragement and perspective. They can offer insights into your strengths and achievements that you may not see yourself. 
 
 
You don’t have to live with that sneaky little voice – you can master it, and turn what it has to say into foundations you can build your potential upon. Don’t let it hold you back, because you have got to where you are for a reason, and you should never forget it. 
 
One of the most effective and long-lasting ways to overcome imposter syndrome is with a coach – someone who is helping you to develop into al the potential you hold.  
 
We can provide tailored programmes that combat self-doubt, and bolster your self-assurance, setting you up to achieve everything you have it in your power to do. Contact us today to find out how. 
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