• Imposter syndrome can be debilitating and hold us back from progressing in professional and personal life

  • Coach Becky Hall offers her five tips to calm your inner critic

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Imposter syndrome is the inner, often secret, conviction that despite our experience, skills and qualifications, we’re somehow just good enough for the job we’re in and we live in fear of being found out. 

It’s the constant voice in your head that tells you that somehow, whatever your life experience is, you’re not good enough for the task in hand. In this state, we worry, we compare and it can drive us to work longer or harder to overcompensate. It’s an exhausting cycle of anxiety. 

If you suffer from imposter syndrome – here are five tips to help you overcome it.

1. Re-set your mindset: from scarcity to enough

Your mindset is the framework of your thinking – the basis of what you believe about the world and your place in it. Your underlying inner beliefs shape who you are, what you do and what you allow ourselves to be capable of. Which is why it’s so important.  

Imposter syndrome comes from what’s known as a ‘scarcity mindset’. From here we are convinced that we lack what we require – that we just aren’t good enough. It’s fear-based and triggers fear responses, which is what can lead us to such anxiety.   

Personally, I notice when I am in this mindset when my own judgemental voice becomes loud. I start on myself, and then, because I am feeling in deficit of my own resource, I start on others. When I’m in a scarcity mindset, my loudest voice is fearful, judgemental and restrictive – “I can’t”, “she can’t”, “I shouldn’t”, “they shouldn’t”, “how could we?”

Try replacing this with an ‘enough mindset’ by substituting fear with self-love. Learning to accept yourself exactly as you are. Realising that you are enough - with all your flaws and talents – is such a gift. Sure you can learn and grow, but as a starting point you ARE enough.  

You are much more likely to do well if you are coming from a place of believing that you are enough. It relaxes you and stops you from reacting as if you are being attacked, and puts you into a state of ease and flow. Practice simply saying to yourself, “I am enough” and noticing what you have got, rather than what you lack.

2. Get real!

Imposter syndrome is perfectionism’s toxic friend. Perfectionism is the curse of believing that there is a perfect way to be – and we are doomed to always fall short. Never good enough. This can be devastating to our self-image. Perfection is a fantasy, something that is impossible to attain, and as such, can become a stick to beat ourselves with. So it’s important for us to remember that there is no such thing as perfection. It’s a false construct because we’re human – and it’s so damaging because we can only ever fall short in relation to it.  

Remembering that everyone (including you) is human and therefore fallible can be a hugely helpful re-frame here. You don’t have to be perfect – no-one can be. Remembering this can help you to let go of the judgement gremlin telling you that you aren’t really the right person to be doing this. Nonsense – you ARE the person doing this. Give of your best with openness and that will be enough.

3. Notice your self-talk and challenge it by inviting more voices

Who is it that’s telling you that you can’t do the job or that you’re an imposter? Often it’s the loud critical voice in our heads that makes it so hard to believe that we are enough.  

Notice how and when that loud critical voice dominates your thinking. It’s like that person at a party who arrives and takes over the conversation not letting anyone else get a word in edgeways. Rather than just wishing it away (which is pretty hard when it’s so established), try inviting a couple of other voices. That quiet person next to you at a party who might have a different view. 

What might a kinder voice say? What would your best friend be saying? Try listening to them for a bit and have a break from the critic. It’s unlikely that your critical voice will go away completely, but at least there will be alternative voices offering you a different perspective. Practice thinking in this way – it really will turn down the volume on your inner critic.

Watch psychotherapist Julia Bueno on self-criticism:


4. Keep an ‘I did it list’ 

We all have to-do lists telling us what we have to do, but try keeping an ‘I did it’ list at the end of each day. Write down the two or three things that you are pleased to have achieved that day. Appreciation is a version of self-love and helps you to build that sense that you are making progress and you are worthy of your role.

Once you have this list, add to it what are you grateful for. Gratitude is an immediate antidote to self-doubt and scarcity because it reminds us of what we have. Like appreciation it focuses on fullness – enough – from which you can flourish and shine. Getting into the habit of turning your attention on what you bring not what you lack can transform your life.

5. Create your ‘enough’ mantra 

Write a sentence that speaks directly to the doubts that you feel. For example, “I’m am good enough exactly as I am”. Practice saying it to yourself every single day. Attach it to your breathing – so that you literally breath in the sentence so that it becomes part of you.  

The good news is that our brains literally change when we practice thinking differently – it’s called neuroplasticity and it’s the key to changing how we think. When you change what you believe about yourself, anything is possible.

Becky Hall is a life coach, leadership consultant and is the author of The Art of Enough  

Further reading

What counselling can teach us about change and vulnerability

Techniques to survive burnout

Thinking about quitting your job? Ask yourself these questions

How to identify your values and what you need from your career