Imposter Syndrome: The Paradox of Achievement

If someone were to say you are not good enough, your presentation will be a disaster and everyone will know who you are, you might consider it abusive and might get upset. However 7 out of 10 do this to ourselves, we engage in such belittling self talk. We feel insecure, inadequate and have self doubts. We are experiencing Imposter Syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome

It means to believe that you are not as competent as other perceive you to be. Most people experiencing imposterism suffer in silence and are afraid that that would be found out. Though there is no official diagnosis listed in the DSM, it is real. Psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance were the first to use this term and believed this was unique to women, specially the high achievers. Research later revealed it is experience by both men and women.


  • Parents who highly value achievement
  • Parents who send mixed messages of over praise and criticism
  • Societal pressure to achieve
  • New environment and new role


  • Lack of self awareness
  • Self doubt
  • Feeling of Inadequacy
  • External locus of control
  • Disowning success
  • Underrating performance
  • Setting unrealistic goals


Imposter Syndrome expert Dr.Valerie Young, has identified the ways in which it can manifest. They are:

The Perfectionist: Always feel they could be better, even after achieving high they can feel like failures. They will focus on the smallest of the mistakes and experience anxiety constantly

The Superhero: Who works very hard to prove to others that they are really successful

The Expert: They try to learn everything possible and are never satisfied with their level of understanding

The Natural Genius: They spend a lot of time picking new skills with little effort. If it doesn’t come easily, they think they are not good enough.

The Soloist: They tend to be individualistic and would prefer to work alone. Asking for help means failure.

Coping Strategies

  • Stop dwelling on self doubts
  • Become aware of your strengths
  • Stop focusing on perfection
  • Reframe the way you think about achievements
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you feel
  • Listening to others can reassure that you are not alone

Imposter Syndrome is not altogether bad, it can fuel motivation and make you perform better. If you are feeling like an imposter, it means you are achieving in life but only that you are attributing it to luck. Focus on your accomplishments and allow people to see the real you.