How to Manage Imposter Syndrome

This is the second article in a series covering issues surrounding mental health and how to manage it.

Imposter Syndrome is very common and can induce the feeling that you’re a fraud and not capable of doing challenging things, despite evidence that this is false, so it is a clash between how you see yourself and how others see you. This can encourage a cycle of negative thoughts, leading to low mood, anxiety and depression.

Many people can experience Imposter Syndrome, including people who are advanced in their careers.

How Imposter Syndrome can affect everyday life

Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in a number of ways.

You may feel like what you are doing in your work or study is not good enough, so you dedicate more time than you need to, to “make up for it”. This can make you feel tired, run-down and burnt-out in the long run.

Even as other people praise your hard work and dedication, you may dismiss it and put your achievements down to good luck or timing rather than on merit. And any small mistakes that you make can be blown out of proportion, and you think that you making mistakes mean you’re not performing well overall. Continuing these beliefs can lead to decreasing self-worth.

What you can do to manage Imposter Syndrome

Talk to somebody you trust about how you feel. It can be very useful to get another person’s perspective. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and to recognise them for what they are, versus the reality of how you work and the level of your performance.

Build a network of peers, whether you’re studying or in work. If the latter, there are many industry-specific networking events and professional bodies, some of which may have sub-groups for young people in that particular sector. This ties in with the previous point of having connections to talk to and gaining different viewpoints of the same work or industry.

Focus on completing tasks. The best way to do this is plan your day and make a realistic to-do list, remembering to schedule in some breaks, too. Stress and burnout levels easily increase if you work yourself into the ground, by trying to uphold unreasonable standards on yourself.

When you find yourself in a well of negative thoughts, challenge them! Look at what is going on objectively and ask yourself questions such as:

  • Is this assignment/report going to be done on time?
  • Have I done sufficient research for this work?
  • Am I fulfilling the criteria or brief for this work?
  • Have I considered feedback given from previous projects and learned from mistakes?

Searching for factual evidence of a job well done will begin to unravel your negative thinking.

Avoid comparisons with other people, especially if they’re more advanced than you currently are. Everyone has their unique struggles, and you don’t know what goes on in people’s heads – they may have Imposter Syndrome themselves, whatever level they may be in their studies or career.

The key point to remember is that nobody is perfect and the path to success isn’t a smooth upwards trajectory. But with the right environment and network, plus a priority on self-care and a healthy mindset, you can manage Imposter Syndrome and focus on thriving in whatever you decide to do in life.

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