Impostor Syndrome : Characteristics & Coping Strategies

Last Update on August 21, 2023 : Published on July 17, 2020
Impostor syndrome- Symptoms & Treatment

Impostor syndrome, also written as imposter syndrome, is a psychological condition where one doubts their own ability and believes that they are not competent enough to accomplish in life. People facing the syndrome tend to think they are inadequate and some moments even make them feel like a fraud. This is why impostor syndrome is also known as fraud syndrome.

Most of us celebrate our success and brag our achievements but impostor syndrome acts differently for some. Despite achieving their tasks successfully and making their names on the big banners, there is a suspicion that they don’t belong here and this success is undeserving. Impostor syndrome convinces a person that they are not as intelligent, creative, or talented as they seem but it was mere good luck that brought them to success.

people question on self worth in imposter syndrome

However, most of us face the impostor syndrome for a short period of time when starting with a new job, receiving an award, starting a new business or becoming parents for the first time. It helps to motivate and achieve new heights but often comes with constant anxiety, over preparedness and the feeling of being sure that you are not a fraud.

Imposter Syndrome Symptoms:

Impostor Syndrome myth and fact

Image Source: UseJournal

The vicious cycle of underestimating yourself has characteristics like:

  • Self-doubt
  • Not able to judge your own abilities
  • Giving credit of success to other external factors
  • Overachieving
  • Constant fear of not standing up to the expectations of people
  • Taking challenging decisions
  • Self-sabotage
  • Fear of isolation, exposure and rejection
  • Rumination
  • Anxiety and depression

Impostor Syndrome & Gender

Graph of Impostor Syndrome

If we look at the brief history, the term ‘Impostor Syndrome’ was defined by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes in their research article “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention”. It was originally thought that the syndrome affects women more than men, especially in male-dominated environments. Later, new research recommended that women showed better perseverance than men and recovered from the syndrome faster. Moreover, everyone gets the feeling of being a fraud regardless of their gender.

Types Of Impostor Syndrome:

Impostor syndrome can be identified in various ways:


1. Perfectionism: Such people are never satisfied with the work done and have a feeling that it could be done in a better way. They try to find minor flaws and put themselves in the pressure rather than looking at the brighter side.

2. Expertise: They try to learn more, underrate their own worth, and feel inadequate of self-understanding.

3. Soloist: These people prefer working alone and asking for help looks like a sign of weakness to them.

4. Overworker: Some people try to push themselves more than possible and always feel that they have not done enough.

5. The Natural Genius: Such people think that they are born naturally genius and put their internal bar very high. They believe in completing the work rightly in ever first attempt only.

There could be certain factors that account for impostor syndrome like belonging to a family that pressurizes for giving better than the best or working in an environment where you are being praised but still being criticized.

How to Deal With Impostor Syndrome: Coping Mechanisms

To get over with impostor syndrome, there are some strategies that can be taken into account.

1. Self-Talk

Start with asking yourself a few questions and answering them honestly. In fact, you can write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal to be more open about it. Ask yourself about the core strengths that you have, are you trying to impress others with perfection or does approval of others matter to you? As soon as you begin to confront your feelings with yourself, the picture becomes clear.

In fact, if you are not able to acknowledge, start writing your doubts whenever they appear in your mind. Try to be specific about the situations, what and why are you thinking about it. As soon as you find yourself in negative situations, find the solutions and counter all the negative emotions. If it is hard for you alone, try another strategy.

2. Share Your Feelings With Others

People whom you trust in your life would love to stand beside you if you wish to express them your feelings, right? So, call them or meet them in person as sharing would give you another perspective. Moreover, it is also possible that someone you are talking to is going through impostor syndrome as well. So, help each other and break the chains.

3. Discover Strengths & Weaknesses

Everyone comes with strengths and weaknesses! But have you ever sat down with yourself to discover each? Now that we assume that you are carrying a journal, write down both on separate pages. However, you must focus on enhancing your strengths rather than reading weaknesses again and again. If you are planning to do something like that, pull out the paper and throw it in a bin. Remember, your task revolves around appreciating the quality of skills you possess only.


4. Avoid Comparison

People with impostor syndrome tend to compare their success with others. Understand how to stop comparing yourself to others because all you will end up is finding faults in your work. A comparison makes you anxious and generates an inferior feeling. Instead, try to learn the goodness from others and note them down for future reference.

5. Own Your Success

Those who face impostor syndrome are not able to accept compliments and credit their success to other factors. In fact, when there is anything wrong with the work, they are always ready to take the blame. Well, it needs balance. Your life is the result of your actions and the success that has been achieved is owned by you. So, enjoy the success and give rewards to yourself for the same.

6. Seek Help

If you are not able to get out of the trap of thoughts that make you feel incompetent and none of the self-copying strategies have worked, try to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes people do not realize that they are living their life in a way that is hampering their capability. So it is better to get into the radar of a specialist who could guide and mentor you.


We hope that those who are facing impostor syndrome would certainly learn the best way to escape the situation of discomfort with the help of coping mechanisms.

At the end, start believing in yourself and stop the rush of thoughts with the help of meditation and ways to quiet the chatter of mind.

Keep Reading at CALMSAGE.

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.


  1. Sara Jane Lowry
    Sara Jane Lowry

    Could you please remove the image I created from this post? I am working to remove it across the web

    1. Akanksha Soni
      Akanksha Soni

      Can you please point the image?

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