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  • Desiree Nazarian

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Do you ever feel like you don't belong or doubt your abilities in life? As though you are about to be “found out” as someone you are not?



Originally coined in 1985 by Pauline Clance, imposter syndrome is the intense fear you will be found out as a fraud. It can also feel like not belonging, not believing in yourself, doubting your abilities, and questioning your identity and worth. For women this self doubt can feel more pronounced especially in the workplace of predominantly male driven and led industries- and even in romantic relationships. Doubting your abilities or attaching the label of “Imposter Syndrome” can feel daunting. In fact, the name “imposter” feels quite heavy in of itself! In order to learn how to deal with imposter syndrome as it pops up in your life, the first step is understanding how it actually does.


The following are some ways imposter syndrome can show up in your life:

  • You stay quiet or withdraw from situations that are either unfamiliar or feel threatening

  • You undersell and undervalue yourself at work or in relationships

  • When faced with challenging or uncomfortable situations you freeze or feel stuck.

  • You rarely or never ask for help because you fear being seen as weak.

  • Over-preparing - if you have the limiting belief that others are better than you or more prepared you might find yourself over preparing to avoid being seen as “less than”.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the above characteristics, overcoming imposter syndrome is a process. This process requires attention and pattern repetition of catching ourselves when we make comparisons with others. In addition, finding ways to unlearn these types of cognitions will also require some work on looking within and understanding where imposter syndrome stems from. Imposter syndrome does not just appear out of the blue like a bunny out of a magician's hat. For many, it was formed from home, in your families of origin. Some examples of how it could start with, not being seen, heard or validated, being told to dim your light or voice in an effort to fit in or avoid healthy conflict, or in more extreme cases adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect. All of these can have lasting impacts on the way we view ourselves. Even some of the most successful women I know have shared feeling like they self doubt their abilities due to internalized core beliefs rooted from early childhood experiences.

In the search to understand how imposter syndrome shows up in your life and learning how to overcome it, it will also be helpful to learn to separate your feelings from facts. This is a helpful way to deal with internalized false beliefs. Another approach is to notice the judgments about yourself that pop up in your head and find healthy ways to regulate. Create a list of what skills and supports you do have rather than ruminate on what you may be lacking. Lastly, remind yourself that you are capable, and even with that you are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. It has become apparent that many women have a quick reaction towards criticizing themselves. Try: What’s right with you vs. what's wrong with you? As Jamella Jamil once put it: “Treating imposter syndrome is like crashing a wedding. You are in now, have as much fun as possible and grab all the cake you can before someone throws you out. Lean in and make it a party!”

Sending light,

Desiree Nazarian

How can Seen Therapy help?

If you are interested in learning more about Seen Therapy and how to deepen your connection to yourself and others contact us today for a free and confidential 15 minute consultation. Call: 1 800 607 7922 or email info@seentherapy.com.

***Seen Therapy provides individual, group, and intensive therapy for women seeking healthier connections and healthier lifestyles. Specializing in therapy for Mental Health challenges, Trauma/PTSD, Women’s Sexual Health and Intimacy difficulties, Betrayal Trauma, and Sex and Love Addiction***

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