Imposter Syndrome: Turning Harmful Thinking into Helpful Feedback

It’s common to worry about what others think about us and where we fit in or stand out among our friends or colleagues, but many of us worry in ways that are not grounded in truth. We worry about not being “good enough” even when we have evidence to the contrary. Rational thinking and evidence is ignored and we continue to think we’re falling behind everyone else.

Imposter Syndrome can surface in a few different ways:

  • Being absolutely sure you’re going to fail despite your best efforts
  • Feeling like a complete fraud, that you’ve tricked everyone and will be found out at any moment
  • Devaluing your worth even while you have others actively supporting you
  • Underestimating your experience or expertise


In episode 067 of my podcast, Productivity Paradox, I go over how we can turn this harmful thinking into helpful feedback. Here on the blog, I’ll share my top 5 favorite strategies to help you get started combating Imposter Syndrome – once and for all! But if this sounds like you, I recommend giving that episode a listen on iTunes or Stitcher for more details and examples.

Let’s get started!



1 – Turn harmful thinking into helpful feedback

In today’s online age it can be much easier to take negative feedback, online harassment or insults to heart instead of compliments, positive feedback or validation.

To combat this, seek out validation and feedback from coworkers, employers, and friends about what you’re doing right and where you can improve, and offer the same to them. These are the real people in your life – not the anonymous trolls on social media. The people who actually know you. You have to stop seeking validation where it doesn’t truly lie – in the number of likes on a post.

If you have trouble keeping that feedback at top of mind instead of negativity, try keeping a digital or physical file of feedback you’ve received that makes you feel good or motivated. You’ve heard me share our High Five Friday tradition here at IWP – I do that because we all need reminders of the good we do. Each and every one of us.


2 – Change your language

Take a look at the language you’ve been using: do you say “I feel” a lot? Change that to “I think.”

Do you pitch ideas starting with “It might just be me, but…”? Reign in your doubt and change your language to be more confident. Assume your thoughts are valid and you’re probably not the only one that has them. Try: “I have a question – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.”


3 – Stop with the stories

Remember when we talked about how we tell our stories in episode 63? Try Re-framing your story by writing it down.

Imagine you’re speaking at a conference and they need an introduction bio for the moderator, or that you’re writing a book and they need an author bio. What would you say, and how would you say it? Would you brush off your accomplishments as insignificant? Take time to write out who you are and how you got where you are and let yourself shine. Then, accept that it’s all true, not fiction.


4 – Stop letting mistakes devalue your abilities or qualifications.

Women tend to question themselves when they make a mistake, but when men screw up, they’re more likely to point to bad luck, poor work, or not enough help from others – external forces, rather than internal.

Remember: even the best athletes don’t always win, the best lawyers lose cases, and the best actors star in busts.


5 – Visualize success and make it a regular part of your routine.

Olympic athletes and military offices all visualize precisely how they’ll successfully navigate a situation before it happens. Use this technique to your advantage to navigate the projects and tasks you’re given.


What’s Next?

Ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t afraid. Write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else, and then do it!

Be sure to listen to episode 067 if you’d like even more tips and helpful information on Imposter Syndrome. Remember – while it’s not a real illness or permanent, it can certainly take a toll on us!

Comment below if you ever feel this way… if so, do you now feel that you have the advice and strategies to get started with a mindset change? I want you to go into work, an event or conference, and get that promotion feeling proud and ready for what’s to come!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton