How to overcome imposter syndrome, according to a psychologist

Office Worker Looking Stress imposter syndrome
People in Manchester are more likely to have imposter syndrome, a study has found. (Getty Images)

You know that feeling when you feel like you get a promotion, or a job with a new, swanky title, and you don’t quite feel like you deserve it? More often than not, this is imposter syndrome talking.

Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that has been experienced by nearly two-thirds (60%) of the British workforce, and can often feel like the embodiment of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’.

And, as it turns out, Mancunians are the most susceptible Brits to imposter syndrome, according to new data.

The study, from Solopress, also found that people from Leeds, Birmingham, London, and Edinburgh are also more likely to feel imposter syndrome than others.

While, on the other hand, Newport feels the least amount of imposter syndrome in the UK, followed by Blackpool, Nottingham, Sunderland, and Stoke-on-Trent.

UK cities with most imposter syndrome

  1. Manchester

  2. Leeds

  3. Birmingham

  4. London

  5. Edinburgh

  6. Glasgow

  7. Milton Keynes

  8. Bristol

  9. Belfast

  10. Coventry

"One contributing factor is the intricate interplay between local demographics and socio-economic circumstances. Cities with higher imposter syndrome rates might exhibit a greater representation of women and minority groups in their labour force," Chantal Gautier, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Westminster, says.

woman with imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is when you feel like you don't deserve your new job or promotion. (Getty Images)

"It’s worth mentioning that London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds double as prominent University cities and research shows that imposter syndrome is not only confined to the professional realm, but students too, are susceptible to its effects, particularly those from minority backgrounds."

UK cities with least amount of imposter syndrome

  1. Newport

  2. Blackpool

  3. Sunderland

  4. Nottingham

  5. Stoke-on-Trent

  6. Kingston upon Hull

  7. Southend-on-Sea

  8. Cardiff

  9. Derby

  10. Luton

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Gautier says that there are five key things you can do to overcome imposter syndrome if you’re struggling with it.

Recognise your feelings

Firstly, recognising that you are struggling with imposter syndrome will help you to identity negative thinking traps.

"Once you realise that imposter syndrome has caused you to become stuck in an unhelpful cycle of thoughts, you can use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to help challenge those negative thoughts and turn your mood around," Gautier adds.

Ask for what you need

"Asking for support is actually a sign of strength," Gautier says. "Struggling in silence can be very lonely in the workplace. Break the silence and seek out support as soon as you can to avoid a build up of work and worry."

Practice kindness and compassion towards yourself

Gautier suggests reminding yourself of your successes and your wins.

"Keep a list of your achievements and nice things and compliments people have said about you and your work – dig it out when imposter syndrome sets in," she adds.

woman imposter syndrome
It's important to practice kindness towards yourself when you struggle with imposter syndrome. (Getty Images)

Focus on self-validation versus external validation

Gautier says that when you’re not getting praise from your manager or other colleagues, you should look inwards for some further encouragement.

She adds: "Set realistic goals that challenge you and reward yourself for completing them."

Reframe negative self-talk

"No one’s perfect, and mistakes do not equal failure," Gautier says. "Try to regard learning experiences as growth, rather than a shortfall or skill deficit. This will help to validate feelings of self-worth."

Imposter syndrome: Read more