Imposter Syndrome

You can help yourself and/or help a friend through this- 

Ideas for getting beyond the Imposter Syndrome*

  • Connect with a supportive and understanding advisor, mentor, or colleague
  • Call on your partner or your friends, so they may be supportive and talk you through impostor feelings.
  • Hire a tutor or take a class in a topic/area where you think your abilities are weaker. You'll learn what you need — or realize how much you already know.
  • Make a list of your strengths. Look back at examples of your own successful work or positive reviews, and remind yourself of your own accomplishments.
  • Accept that some tasks will not be done perfectly.
  • Be aware of your language choices. If you find yourself thinking you were 'lucky' to receive a grant or publish a paper, focus on what you did to earn it.


Recent workshop participants (Overcoming the Imposter Phenomenon- IP) shared these ideas:

  • Identify your feelings/thoughts and increase your awareness- when do these automatic thoughts come up?  What is the context in which they creep up
  • Rewrite your mental “tape”. Remind yourself it’s normal to not know everything—  you will find out more as you progress.  You’re here to learn.
  • Talk about your feelings.  Others might also feel like imposters.  Have an open dialogue about IP.
  • Avoid negative self-talk. It’s normal to feel self-doubt at times, but know when you are beating yourself up.  Instead of thinking you’re useless, reframe it to “the fact that I feel useless right now does not mean that I really am.”
  • Try the “Fake it until you make it” approach— everyone, at some time in the lives, feels insecure about their academic/job performance.  Remember, the most successful people are those willing to make mistakes.
  • Learn to speak-up in many different situations. Try it in your friendship circle, try it in a class, or try it during office hours.
  • Reframe failure as a learning opportunity. Find the lesson in the   experience.
  • Be kind to yourself.  Forgive yourself.  Reward yourself.
  • Seek support.
  • Become more comfortable with risks and/or changes.
  • Find a mentor, mentoring is a critical success factor.
  • Network with your peers and colleagues, both locally and globally.
  • Visualize your success and keep your eyes on the prize.  


Helpful Resources