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Imposter Syndrome – Is It Holding You Back With Your Career?

The term, ‘Imposter Syndrome’ (IS) is one that is used more often and the former First Lady, Michelle Obama actually mentioned it in one of her speeches recently. She was speaking during her return visit to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in north London when she stated that she still had a little bit of Imposter Syndrome. Here, in the latest blog from Becoming Aware, based in Eastbourne, we investigate what it is, where the term came from, how you can detect signs of IS, how it can hinder your career development and things that you can do that will help. It is surprisingly common and it is estimated that 70% of people and in particular high achieving women may suffer from this.

You Feel You Will Be Identified As A Fraud

The imposter syndrome is a psychological term, which refers to a pattern of behaviour where people start doubting their accomplishments and have an ongoing fear that they will be found out and identified as a ‘fraud’. It is accompanied by feelings of insecurity and/or self-doubt and can lead to anxiety and depression if it is not treated.

You Feel Your Success Is Down To Luck

Clinical psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes came up with the term in 1978, when they discovered that some people even though they had convincing evidence of their accomplishments still didn’t believe that they deserved the success they were experiencing. Some people believe that their success is down to luck, being in the right place at right time and deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and more competent than they actually are.

How Does It Affect Professional And Business People?

It can be a real obstacle to career profession and stop people from exploring and going after new opportunities, or pursuing any interests that they have because they lack confidence in their abilities and feel they do not belong in their career. It is generally associated with people who over-achieve and it is a common trait that most successful people over-analyse themselves.

Signs Of Imposter Syndrome

· People work harder than they need to

· They doubt their abilities

· Obsess about failures and mistakes

· Find it difficult to handle criticism and negative feedback

· Will not try something new

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

It is important that if you have IS, youaddress these fraudulent feelings in order to move on and this can be done in a number of ways.

· Have a strong support systemaround you

· Associate with groups, an online community or a networking group to normalise your feelings

· Receive ongoing feedback to validate your efforts and outcomes

· Write down your skills, achievements and successes

· Go to yoga classes

· Do mindful meditation

· Accept your strengths and weaknesses

· Seek professional help

Face Up To Challenges

If you are offered praise, accept it and don’t always seek perfection, as it’s not always possible and you can’t be good at everything.Realise that if you can’t do something,it doesn’t mean that you are a failure and facing up to challenges is key to growth.


Once you start to do something about it, you will start to feel more confident. Understandthat it isa reaction to a set of circumstances, unrealistic self-expectation and stress. And you must stop thinking like an imposter and replace negative thought processes with positive ones. Also it may be comforting to know that you certainly are not alone.

What To Do Next

Karen Hoad from Becoming Aware, based in Eastbourne with clients in East Sussex is a qualified and experienced Emotional Healing & Wellbeing Practitioner. She has worked with many people with Imposter Syndrome who feel that they are waiting to be found out and as such are putting their careers on hold. She always finds that there is a sense of relief when Imposter Syndrome is explained and people start to understand their feelings and this sense of relief increases as she works with them as they can start to let go. Call Karen on 07766 427966 for a without obligation chat or email

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