Development Impostor Syndrome Positivity Psychology Wellness

Breaking through impostor syndrome: How to feel confident and successful in your career

Are you feeling like a fraud in the workplace? Do you often feel like you don’t belong in the professional world, despite all the success you’ve achieved? If so, you may be experiencing impostor syndrome. This is a phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and feel undeserving of their successes. If you’ve been struggling with impostor syndrome, then this blog post is for you. In this post, we’ll discuss strategies to help you break through impostor syndrome and become more confident and successful in your career.

What is impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon, is a psychological pattern of behaviour in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, abilities, and skills, despite evidence to the contrary. It is often characterised by feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and unworthiness. People with this syndrome are plagued by a deep-seated fear of being exposed as a “fraud” or “impostor.”

Many high-achieving public figures have spoken openly about their struggles with impostor syndrome. This includes Academy Award winning actress Viola Davis, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and actor Dwayne Johnson. They have each acknowledged how the fear of being exposed as inadequate has made them feel like an impostor in their respective fields.

The symptoms of impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome can be hard to identify as it can manifest itself in different ways for different people. Take our short assessment here to discover your impostor type. Some common symptoms include:

  • Low self-esteem: People with impostor syndrome often struggle with negative thoughts about their abilities and accomplishments. They may be too hard on themselves and have difficulty taking credit for successes or feel like they don’t deserve compliments.
  • Perfectionism: People with impostor syndrome may set unreasonably high standards for themselves and become overwhelmed when they don’t meet these expectations. They may also find it difficult to make decisions, leading to procrastination and an unwillingness to try new things.
  • Fear of failure: People with impostor syndrome are afraid of failing, so they may avoid taking risks or taking on tasks that require them to step outside their comfort zone. They may also struggle with feelings of guilt and shame if they do fail.
  • Negative comparison: People with impostor syndrome may compare themselves to others and feel like they don’t measure up. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.
  • Self-doubt: People with impostor syndrome may question their decisions and second-guess their own ideas and contributions. They may also avoid speaking up in group settings out of fear of being judged or criticised.

Impostor syndrome is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to define you. By recognising the symptoms, you can start to take steps towards overcoming it.

How impostor syndrome affects your work

Impostor syndrome can have a major impact on your work and career prospects. It can cause feelings of fear, self-doubt, and inadequacy that can prevent you from taking risks and making meaningful contributions. This can lead to missed opportunities and stalled career advancement.

It can also lead to perfectionism, which often results in procrastination. You may be hesitant to start a project or take on new responsibilities for fear of failure or not being able to meet your own expectations. This can lead to missed deadlines or subpar work.

You may also struggle when it comes to asking for help or advice. Fear of seeming incompetent can lead you to avoid seeking assistance or advice from colleagues or supervisors. This can prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities for collaboration, networking, and learning from others.

It can also hinder your ability to advocate for yourself and your work. You may find it difficult to promote yourself, your achievements, and your ideas, leading to feelings of invisibility and insecurity.

These are just a few of the ways that impostor syndrome can affect your work and career prospects. It is important to recognise how this mental health issue may be impacting you and take steps to overcome it so that you can reach your full potential.

Techniques to overcome impostor syndrome

It can be difficult to overcome, especially if you’ve been dealing with it for a long time. But there are many strategies you can use to help you break through the mental barriers associated with this phenomenon.

One of the best strategies is positive self-talk. Talk to yourself like you would to a friend – be encouraging and supportive. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting things right, focus on what you have achieved and how much you have grown. You can also list your accomplishments and refer back to them when you start feeling down or overwhelmed.

Another useful strategy is to focus on the process of learning and mastering new skills instead of worrying about the results. If you can find joy in learning and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, you’ll be more likely to overcome your impostor syndrome.

It’s also important to take a break when you need it. Too much stress and pressure can make things worse, so make sure to give yourself time to rest and recharge. Don’t forget to have fun and indulge in activities that bring you joy and make you feel confident about yourself.

A client case study:

Sarah is a successful businesswoman who has been struggling with impostor syndrome for years. She was always hard on herself and felt like she didn’t measure up to her peers. To help her break through this mental barrier, Sarah started implementing positive self-talk and focusing on the process of learning rather than the results. She also took regular breaks when she needed them and found joy in her work by indulging in activities that made her feel confident and successful. These strategies helped Sarah build the confidence she needed to achieve her goals.

Seek professional help if necessary

If you have been struggling with impostor syndrome for an extended period of time and it is affecting your work, personal life, or mental health, seeking professional help might be the best option for you. Professional coaching can help you address the underlying causes and give you the support and guidance you need to break through it.

At Shaping Change, we offer a Masterclass called “Ditch Impostor Syndrome: Kill self-doubt and unleash your potential” that provides step-by-step guidance on how to build self-confidence and develop a positive mindset. The class is designed to help you gain insight into how impostor syndrome affects your thought patterns and behaviours, identify what is causing your feelings of inadequacy and learn new skills to manage them. You can add the option of personalised support throughout the process to ensure that you reach your goals. Find our masterclass catalogue here for the date of our next program.


Impostor syndrome is a very real phenomenon that affects many professionals. It is a feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy which can have a negative impact on career success. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to overcome it and feel more confident and successful in your career. These steps include creating positive self-talk, focussing on learning, not result, and seeking professional help if necessary. Taking these steps will help you to break through impostor syndrome and reach your full potential.


What Type of Impostor Are You? 

Are you a Perfectionist, a Genius, a Soloist, an Expert, or a Super Hero?

Are you tired of feeling like a fraud and questioning your abilities? Take our quiz and find out your unique impostor archetype.

Our quiz is designed to give you valuable insights into your own impostor thoughts and behaviors. By understanding your impostor archetype, you’ll be able to take concrete steps to overcome self-doubt and build self-confidence.

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