How do you feel when others praise you or you get promoted for a job well done?

Do you think your success is simply good timing or dumb luck? Do you feel like you don't deserve it or you're a fraud?

Man sitting in a chair saying

Impostor syndrome (IS) is the belief that you're not as competent as others perceive you to be. While it can sometimes be motivational, impostor syndrome often leads to anxiety, stress, and depression.

Fear not! There are things you can do to combat impostor syndrome .

Tip 1: Acknowledge It

The first step in combatting impostor syndrome is to be aware of and acknowledge the symptoms.

Man looking nervous and afraid.

You may be experiencing impostor syndrome if you:

  • Agonize over small mistakes or flaws in your work

  • Fear others will perceive you as incompetent

  • Attribute your successto external factors or good luck

  • Become very sensitive to criticism even when it's constructive

  • Downplay your expertise even in areas where you're clearly more skilled than others

Tip 2: Identify Your Type

What triggers impostor syndrome for you may be different for someone else. It's important to identify your impostor syndrome type so you can determine how best to combat it.

You may find that you're more than one type .

Flaticon Icon The Perfectionist focuses on doing things extremely well. Perfectionists tend to agonize over small mistakes and may avoid things for fear of failure.

Flaticon Icon The Natural Genius learns most new skills easily. Geniuses feel like a fraud and are ashamed when something is difficult or takes more effort.

Flaticon Icon The Soloist believes in doing everything independently. Soloists consider themselves inadequate and unworthy if they need to ask for help.

Flaticon Icon The Expert wants to learn everything there is to know about a topic. Experts feel like a fraud when they can't answer a question.

Flaticon Icon The Superhero links competence to being successful in every role. Superheroes push themselves to the limit and feel incompetent if they don't excel at everything.


Lisa was promoted to manage a team of her peers. She's working a lot of overtime to learn everything there is to know about the role to prove she deserves it. What is Lisa's type?

Tip 3: Talk About It

Talking to people you trust (e.g., friends, mentors, family) about how you feel will help increase your awareness of what triggers impostor syndrome for you.

Two women talking to each other Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

You'll soon realize that you're not alone. Many people experience impostor syndrome at some point during their lifetime. By talking about it, you can learn from others how to combat it, and even help others who may be experiencing doubts about their own abilities.

Tip 4: Identify Your Strengths

Identifying your strengths is a good way to remind yourself that you deserve praise and recognition.

Young man writing his ideas in a notebook.

Take time to reflect on your experiences at school and work and write down what you did well. You'll soon have a list of your strengths and accomplishments.

Keep this list readily available so that you can refer to it anytime you doubt your abilities.

Take Action

You can take action now to combat feelings of impostor syndrome:

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