How to deal with impostor syndrome

NEW DELHI: Do you feel like a fraud? You don't belong What will soon discover your lie? Such feelings are unusually common even among the best or the most successful. This phenomenon is called Imposter Syndrome and famous people like Neil Armstrong, Tom Hanks and Michelle Obama have suffered it.

As a professional, you will succumb at some point in your career if it is not for long periods. Your goal is not to avoid imposter syndrome But succeed in spite of it. Start by recognizing it.

Performance anxiety

Children who have not been recognized for their skills or who are not expected to succeed often become overly anxious professionals, workaholics and perfectionists. To escape this trap, accept that no one is perfect.

Know that it is okay to feel an imposter in some situations, such as when you have just assumed new responsibilities. Practice rewarding yourself when you progress and accept performance compliments of others with a Thank you.

Fear to fail

Children who have had high expectations of them and have had success early in life can grow with a high load of expectations and can actively avoid situations where they can fail. Geniuses, experts, older brothers and the most successful men tend to be in this category. Identify and label your emotions. Then talk to trusted people and share your feelings.

Undue deference

In India, it is not unusual to have education and initial career choices made by elders or even by the peer group. Your imposter syndrome may thus be rooted in a lack of confidence. Since you devalue your own thoughts and instincts, you are unable to trust your team or people around you. Once you recognise this, start separating feelings from facts.

Don't fight feelings, just let them pass. Then, accept the validation of others. Finally, show confidence in your own decisions until success makes you trust.

Social strategy

Are you using it as a social strategy? This is the fake imposter syndrome where to avoid criticism you indulge in self-deprecation and thus build an exit strategy in preparation for future failure. This arises from self-doubt where you are not sure of your next success.

Before working unconsciously towards failure, recognize what you are doing. Also, stop comparing yourself to others to reduce the pressure of continued success.

Intelligence mask

Are you in a profession where you must seem intelligent all the time? While trying to appear intelligent, it intimidates people, has bad relationships and a non-existent support system.

Sometimes, you may feel that being unmasked as an impostor will bring you much relief. Avoid this negative context by relying on a realistic self-assessment of your skills. Then, reduce the pressure to look smart by remembering Henry Ford's statement: Failure is just the opportunity to start over, this time more intelligently.

Wrong social group

Do you prefer to operate alone or are you stuck in the wrong social group? Being alone or in a poor professional network can cause anxiety about minor setbacks and feel like an imposter. You need constant control of reality. Seek the support of mentors and refuse to go alone on your trip. Reach beyond your peer group to reduce unnecessary anxiety and stay rooted as a professional.

(The writer is founder and CEO of and