8 Ways to Stop Imposter Syndrome

Life coach - Imposter Syndrome
I'm Emma!

Creative success coach, Photographer, rescue dog mom, book worm, INFJ, Enneagram 3, doing my best to be mindful, kind & help people be their most authentic, purposeful selves.


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Like a drug baron (or baroness) fearing their nefarious activities being discovered by the FBI, your inner imposter will have you believe that at any moment the folks around you will discover you are, in fact, a fraud.

noun: imposter syndrome

The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

At the height of my photography career, I had a year of massive success. I watched in amazement as my photography series featuring black rescue dogs went viral, globally, I won a collection of awards and was invited to the TEDx Pretoria stage to talk about my work and ironically, how my imposter almost stopped me from publicly sharing my global smash, The BLACK SERIES. But, despite this impressive collection of accolades, I still felt like it had been some sort of mistake. Maybe the TEDx folks felt sorry for me? Perhaps I was the only person who entered work into the photography competition? Did the Daily Mail call the wrong photographer?

As I write this, it seems ridiculous, but these are the exact thoughts that kept running through my mind. I know I’m not alone. I’ve worked with coaching clients who are brilliantly successful; one client had three degrees all passed with honours yet still felt like the people around her thought she was incapable and another multi award winning photographer client worried people were buying her work out of pity, not because they loved it.

People living with active imposters have one thing in common; they’re highly accomplished but massively lacking in self belief. 

Thanks to a drive for perfection and a penchant for comparison, imposter syndrome will either keep you paralysed and stuck in a place of inaction or drive you to keep achieving bigger and better things which can lead to burnout. I don’t believe you can or should get rid of imposter syndrome, what’s needed is a way to balance the paradox it creates. 

Here’s how to cultivate self-belief and use your imposter to your advantage:

  • Make a list of 25 successes you’ve had in your life so far. 

These might be awards you’ve won, qualifications you’ve earned or personal achievements. Write them all down.

  • Look at your achievements as it they were someone else’s

I’m pretty sure once you’ve made this list, you’ll allow your imposter to start mitigating your successes, so look at them as if they belonged to someone else. On a scale of 1 to 10, how impressed would you be?

  • List out all the negative thoughts your imposter brings up

Are they based in reality? I’ll bet if you refer to your success list, most of them aren’t. Could you turn these thoughts to their opposite and find examples of them being true? 

  • Look for opportunities to upskill

If you have ‘fraud’ thoughts about not knowing enough or not being skilled enough, can you build your confidence with some skills training or mentoring?

  • Ask for feedback

Sometimes an outside perspective can help shift your negative mindset. Get some genuine feedback on how you’re doing. I once surveyed my clients and asked what they enjoyed about working with me and where I could improve. I got some wonderful feedback and a few pointers which were delivered kindly and helped me really up my game.

  • Get coached

Imposter syndrome, as previously discussed, can stand in the way of self objectivity. If you can’t get past a progress or mindset block around your abilities and you’re stuck, get some coaching. It’s been invaluable for me to work with someone who can both encourage and challenge me and I have seen how valuable coaching has been for my imposter ravaged clients too.

  • Set realistic goals

High achievers tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in a short timeframe and then set themselves up for failure which only reinforces the negative self-talk. Break your big goals down into smaller chunks, make them manageable and celebrate every success along the way, however small it may seem.

  • Learn to reframe failure

When you view perceived failures not as a reflection of your abilities, but as an opportunity to learn, it’ll change the game for you. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting something right, ask yourself, “what’s another way I could approach this?”. 

Work with your imposter rather than against it

Rewiring the negative thoughts that accompany imposter syndrome takes time, so be gentle with yourself in this process. When you focus on improving your self-belief and self-confidence rather than trying to silence your imposter (not possible in my opinion) you’re more likely to achieve the success you desire. The fact that you have imposter syndrome lets me know that you’re already more capable than you realise. Once you allow yourself to tap into your inner brilliance, there will be no stopping you. You’ve got this.

Need some help, get in touch with me here to find out how coaching could change your life.

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Your confidence boosting strategy coach.

I'm a coach, creative, mentor & photographer with over 18 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur.

My superpowers are intuition & strategy; a powerful combo that's a bit like rocket fuel for creating the life & business you really want.

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