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Imposter Syndrome

“Never, ever, ever, write off anything you’ve achieved as merely being lucky.  You are not lucky: You are hard-working and capable.  Don’t ever question it.”

Charlene Walters, business mentor

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome – the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally despite being high-performing in external, objective ways.

This condition often results in people feeling like “a fraud” or “a phony” and doubting their abilities.


Imposter syndrome is a cognitive distortion.  It causes people to doubt their skills and accomplishments.  They doubt others’ high regard for them.  And they doubt their own history and track record.

But where does this doubt and distortion come from?

Although it can affect a person’s mental health, imposter syndrome isn’t an official psychological condition, and it has a variety of causes.  Research has shown that imposter syndrome comes from a combination of factors:

Family environment. Growing up, parents or other family members might have put an outsized emphasis on achievement or have been overly critical.

Social pressures. Being part of a social circle or group where approval or worth seems to be explicitly connected to achievement.

Sense of belonging. Part of imposter syndrome is the fear of being found out and cast out.  Any circumstance, even in the past, that made a person feel different or excluded from the group can fuel the imposter phenomenon.

Personality. Some personality types are more linked to internalizing feelings of pressure, doubt, and failure.  Times of stress or transition, even unrelated to work, can make it worse.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

  1. Understand the voice.
  2. Assess the evidence.
  3. Refocus on values.
  4. Reframe around growth.
  5. Get out of your head.
  6. Practice self-compassion.
  7. Be kind to yourself.
  8. Keep failure in perspective.

The Bible

Many of the popular attitudes regarding dealing with imposter syndrome revolve around phrases such as:

  • Trust yourself
  • Start celebrating yourself more.
  • Be your own narrator.
  • Go for a happy ending.
  • Pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar

The problem with these approaches is they require the person with imposter syndrome to solve their problem all by themselves.

The biblical approach is different.

Ephesians 1:4-5 says,

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to accept God’s invitation to become a follower of Jesus Christ and see yourself as God sees you – as loved, chosen to be part of God’s family, and set apart without fault.

The second step is to embrace our new identity in Christ.  When we feel like an imposter, fake, or fraud, we base our identity on what we do, who we know, how successful we are, or what others think of us.  God wants us to overcome the Imposter Syndrome by focusing on whose we are.  Our identity comes from belonging to Jesus.

As Ephesians 1:6-8 says,

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

When we accept this gift of grace through faith, we are His, and our identity is now in Christ, which frees us from feeling like an imposter.  Instead of feeling inadequate, we know that God created and equipped us to do good works.

Finally, one of the best ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome is to replace the lies we tell ourselves with the truth from God’s Word.

And Paul is clear in letting us know that among the many spiritual blessings that God gives to every believer are wisdom, insight, and understanding.

Ephesians 1: 16b-18 says,

I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Biblical truth tells us that we belong to God through Jesus and are guaranteed a glorious inheritance by the Holy Spirit.  You are not an imposter; you are a child of God and are exactly as He wants you to be.