How do I stop feeling like a fraud?

Since starting this blog we have included a number of posts on the Imposter Syndrome because the topic resonates with so many people.

‘It can happen to anyone who notches up achievements in life – at some stage, many people feel unworthy of their success. They may tell themselves they’ve just been lucky, and fear that one day they’ll be unmasked or found out’

The BBC have now posted an interesting piece under a number of headings:

  • Living a lie
  • False pretences
  • Managing your thoughts
  • How did I get here?
  • Where next?

What advice would you offer?



We Are Not Impostors

Returning to a popular (and important!) theme I wanted to share this article by Stephen J. Aguilar (doctoral candidate in education and psychology at the University of Michigan) on the Imposter Syndrome.  Stephen highlights that:

  • It’s O.K. to be slow and clumsy at first
  • Anxiety comes with the territory
  • We are Novice Experts

Some tips to avoid feeling like an imposter include:

  • Build multiple relationships within your community
  • Avoid idolizing your mentors and advisers
  • Go to conferences — both your field’s flagship conference and a few niche ones
  • Celebrate your accomplishments, but avoid the dreaded humble brag
  • Don’t fear peer review — embrace it

Read the full article to find out more…..


How to beat writer’s block

Roberta Gilchrist highlighted an article by Matthew Reisz in the Times Higher published on the 22nd January 2015 –  ‘Learning to accept ‘good enough’ as a benchmark can help academics escape a writing rut.’

Peer pressure: look beyond scholarly insecurities to focus on a specific goal

Peer pressure: look beyond scholarly insecurities to focus on a specific goal











‘PhD students often procrastinate because they feel they have “not yet had a breakthrough in their thinking, have not yet crossed the conceptual threshold”. Others get bogged down by the impostor syndrome, “the feeling that you do not yet have anything important enough to say” or that the real experts “will immediately attack what you do say as rubbish”

‘Finally, at those ghastly moments when the gears seem to seize up completely, don’t just sit there staring at the screen. Instead, recommends Professor Wisker, “stop writing, go for a walk, do anything other than write, and let your mind flow around the issues when it wants to. The breakthrough in thinking, understanding and expression often comes when your mind is freer. Then catch it, build on it and write.”

Do you procrastinate?  Are you able to say ‘this is good enough.’  Can you take a ‘helicopter view’ of your work?


Imposter Syndrome Training

Yesterday Chris Cross (trainer in personal and professional development, arc-en-ciel Consultancy) led an Imposter Syndrome workshop for SAGES PhD students and early career staff.

Some background to the Imposter Syndrome:

‘Despite evidence of their abilities, many bright, capable people do not experience an inner sense of competence or success, believing instead that they have somehow managed to fool others into thinking they are smarter and more competent than they “know” themselves to be. People who feel like Impostors attribute their achievements to luck, charm, computer error, and
other external factors. Unable to internalize or feel deserving of their success, they live with a deep sense of inauthenticity and the fear that they will be found out.’ Dr Valerie Young from her workshop on How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Thinks You Are









In the workshop Chris highlighted some ways of redefining failure:

  • It’s human to make mistakes
  • There is value in failure
  • I’ve learnt a lot from things that haven’t worked out
  • Avoiding risk of failure leads to disappointment
  • Setbacks are just ‘curves in the road’
  • Everyone fails sometimes

Some statements for appreciating success. How many do you use?

  • I can take the credit when I have succeeded
  • I can appreciate small successes as well as the big
  • I can be proud of what I have achieved
  • I will appreciate my past experiences
  • I am developing and learning all of the time
  • I reflect on what I have achieved and give myself credit
  • I have no need to hand away my success to others
  • Comparing myself unfavourably to others is futile

Some strategies for success:

  • Keep your hand up – be persistent
  • Think widely – keep your options open
  • Stay focussed – don’t try to do too many things
  • Stop playing small
  • Celebrate success

Some statements to think about in order to take action and move forward:

What I need to STOP DOING…………………………

What I need to keep the SAME/DO MORE OF ……………………………….

What I need to START DOING……………………………………..


There are lots of resources which you may find useful:

There are many more ………..