Imposter Syndrome: Why it’s toxic and how to beat it

We were lucky enough to have had Andrew Pain, an experienced TEDx and keynote speaker, talking with us recently about imposter syndrome: what it is and how to beat it. This insight shares the key takeaways from the session with Andrew.


600x400 Imposter Syndrome - image by Vectorjuice on freepik

What is it?

Imposter Syndrome: it’s where you lack confidence in your abilities, you feel like an incompetent fraud about to be exposed. On top of that, you belittle your own achievements and skills and believe your accomplishments are not worthy of attention or respect.

The mild version of imposter syndrome is where it is a problem for you from time to time, it’s temporary and doesn’t stop you from doing what you would otherwise do but it does make the course of action more stressful than it would otherwise be. Whereas, severe imposter syndrome absolutely batters you and truly prevents you from being and doing all the things that you want to do.

According to research, 70% of us have experienced it and it appears to be getting worse in the 21st century, holding people back from achieving their potential and leading to long term anxiety, self-loathing and depression.

600x400 Imposter Syndrome - image by pch.vector on freepik

What causes it?

  • Social Media – reading unhelpful comments
  • Being in a minority in a workplace – including gender or cultural differences
  • Working for a very pace setting, results-driven boss – adding pressure from their comments

How can you send imposter syndrome packing?

  • Call out those habits where you unknowingly undermine your own values, e.g. receiving a gift and naturally responding with “Oh, you didn’t need to do that!”
  • Use simple self-management techniques – have you willfully misled anyone? If you haven’t then you aren’t actually an imposter!
  • View imposter syndrome as a helpful thing, not a bad thing – it normally crops up when you’re being brave and courageous
Lightbulb moment

Andrew's top tip for dealing with negative feedback

Visualisation – have a go at placing the feedback in your mental filing cabinet or in your mental shredder

When determining which one you’re going to use, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much do you trust the feedback?
  • Is it a recurring and emerging trend or just an isolated piece of feedback?

Watch Andrew Pain’s Imposter Syndrome speaker workshop summary video for yourself

Watch here

Read more about speaker Andrew Pain, connect with him on social media & view his past and future events at MD2MD

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