How do I get over "imposter syndrome"?

I'm dealing with imposter syndrome in graduate school. I know that by all accounts I am a phenomenal graduate student, and that I am well-published. I am well liked by students and faculty alike. And yet I cannot shake the feeling that I'm going to be found out as a fraud.

How can I get over this feeling?

Candice Conroy, LMHC
Candice Conroy, LMHC
Find relief from anxiety, depression, and trauma.

Imposted Syndrome is often linked to feelings of shame - shame about our own inadequacies, our imperfections, the limits of our knowledge or abilities. It's based on the belief that in order to be valuable, you must be perfect. Often times, the standards for this are so unrealistic, that when we really look at them, we can cognitively see that it's impossible to achieve. Here are a few of the common beliefs that typically underlie Imposter Syndrome:

  • I must know everything there is to know about this and have no gaps in my knowledge
  • I must be perfect at every task the first time I try
  • I must never make mistakes
  • I must always appear confident and never let on that I have any doubts

So in order to appear valuable, you must hide your imperfections. The only problem is that this behavior does a few things that actually keeps you stuck in Imposter Syndrome. 

  • Hiding things you're ashamed of (such as your lack of knowledge in a new area) only reinforces the emotional feeling that this is "bad" or "wrong"
  • It keeps you from having the experience of others knowing you're not perfect and still accepting and valuing you anyway
  • It keeps you from asking for help or information when you might need it, making it more likely your performance will actually suffer
  • It can cause you to come off as not needing support or guidance, so that will be given to others who acknowledge their imperfections and limitations openly
In order to decrease the feeling of Imposter Syndrome, it can be helpful to take small steps such as asking for help, information, or clarification when you need it; acknowledging the limits of your experience of knowledge; and taking every practice as a learning experience rather than a test of whether or not you deserve to be there.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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