5 Ways to Loosen the Grip of the Impostor Syndrome

5 Ways to Loosen the Grip of the Impostor Syndrome

Working With And Getting over the Imposter Syndrome


Lisa Orban

Lisa Orban

The Impostor Syndrome, also known as the Imposter Phenomenon or Imposterism, is a common experience among high achievers. The fear of being unmasked as a fraud (the hallmark of the Imposter Syndrome) is often the result of one’s difficulty in accepting success and contributing it to luck instead of ability. The Imposter Syndrome can send our personal brand into a real wobble.


It’s estimated that 70% of people have Imposter Syndrome *, and likely more, as many won’t admit it. If you are one of the many who suffer from the Imposter Syndrome, you are in some impressive company.  Just to name a few…the actress and UN ambassador Emma Watson has admitted to feeling like an imposter,** as have her fellow actors Kate Winslet and Renée Zellweger. The COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg has said, “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud”. Certainly not examples of low-profile underachievers!



Here are five tips to help loosen the grip of the imposter syndrome:

1.Don’t believe everything you think

That unhelpful internal voice, the inner critic, can sound like a constant monologue of self-doubt, one that builds up a flawed picture us and of our careers. As the saying goes, we “compare our insides with other people’s outsides”, as it’s all too easy to assume everyone else is doing much better than us on the surface.

2. Shed the mask – be authentic

A strong personal brand is an authentic one. Share some of your fears and doubts with people you trust. It makes you human, and remember that people like hints of humanity. And once you speak more honestly about feeling this way, you can bet others will too.

This is particularly important for higher-ups in an industry, as senior employees can help by being more honest with juniors by sharing their own struggles and insecurities.

imposter syndrome

3.Remind yourself of accomplishments

Negative Filtering is a common cognitive distortion that can get many of us stuck. This is an unhelpful thinking pattern involves filtering out all of the positive information and only focusing on the negative information or experiences. Simply put, it’s about focusing on negative things and discounting positive things.

Go back and remind yourself of the things you needed to accomplish, and managed to overcome, in order to get to where you are today. Keep an active record of your achievements and review the successes you have. Recognize that you’ve been able to do things that required courage and competence in the past, and that you have been strong and capable…and you are still that person today.

4.Default to your core personal brand

Remind yourself of your inner brand attributes: what makes you unique, authentic, compelling, relevant and differentiated? These are some of the many qualities that add value. You have a unique combination of abilities, personality and experience and no one else is exactly like you.

Identify the type of person you want to be in the face of Imposterism, and reflect on your personal and professional values and strengths. Use your values a compass to help you act in accordance with the professional you want to be, regardless of the internal “fraud chatter”.

By turning to our inner brand attributes and focusing on the type of professional we want to be, we can steady ourselves when the Imposter Syndrome tries to take hold.

5. Befriend the Fraud Police

Imposterism comes with the fear of being discovered, as if some mysterious “fraud police” are lurking somewhere, ready to jump out and make an arrest. When stripped down, these fraud police are revealed as unhelpful thoughts and feelings that are undermining our self-confidence. You may never completely escape their presence, however this does not mean you need to let them control you. Instead of buying into this form of “intellectual self-doubt”, try to recognize the positives that come with it.

When the Imposter Syndrome shows up, it means that we are being challenged, that the dreaded comfort zone is growing, and that we are self-aware enough to have noticed it. In other words, “it comes with the territory” when we experience success and self-growth. Accept that the Imposter Syndrome exists (and that it’s ultimately a good thing), but do not allow it to take the driver’s seat and rule your life.


by Lisa Orban.

Bringing together her extensive training, experience and passion in both psychology and branding, Lisa Orban founded Golden Notebook. A chartered clinical psychologist, Lisa trained and practised in New York City for eleven years before relocating to London. Lisa helps clients make a name for themselves by discovering their distinct and authentic personal brand. She takes a unique approach to personal branding that combines psychological assessment and theory with branding strategies to create for powerful and enduring individual change and personal impact.

 For further information, case studies or comments, content or interview with Lisa, please contact Paula Gardner on paula@paulagardnerpr.com, or 07534 984298, or 0208 550 2599.



* http://bsris.swu.ac.th/journal/i6/6-6_Jaruwan_73-92.pdf

** http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/11779295/Star-really-struggled-despite-childhood-love-affair-with-acting.html

No Comments

Post A Comment