How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome Feeling


Approximately 70 percent of us will experience a period of self-doubt at least once in our lives. Rebuild your confidence using these five strategies.

Every other creative professional you know has succeeded largely because of their talents and dedication. You, on the other hand, have got where you are thanks to a mix of luck and the extra effort that was needed to compensate for your lack of true giftedness.

Does this harsh assessment match your own worldview? If so, it sounds as if you are suffering from a crisis of self-doubt that psychologists call the Imposter Phenomenon. Quite likely you live in professional fear. Fear that one of these days, you are going to be exposed. That the mirage of serendipitous and barely-made-it achievements that is your career will one day be lifted, revealing to your peers and mentors the shameful truth – you flunked it.

The imposter phenomenon was first described in the 1970s by clinical psychologists working at a women’s college, after they noticed that a large proportion of the students felt nervous of their academic success and were worried of having their true capabilities exposed. Since then it’s become apparent that men and women in all walks of life experience imposter feelings: in fact, one recent estimate (pdf) suggests that around 70 percent of us will go through a period of these self-doubts at least once in our lives.

Illustration by Atipus and to read more from Christian Jarrett, click here.