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Impostor Syndrome Burnout

Sadface match - burnout

Is Impostor Syndrome about to lead to a burnout?

There is a very real risk of burnout associated with the self-doubt mindset known as Impostor Syndrome.  If you are feeling close to that edge - could it be down to this often undetected, unhelpful way of thinking?

If you find yourself working into the early hours, up at the crack of dawn to get some extra work hours in before going to work…. setting yourself unrealistically high targets….and if you are feeling stressed and exhausted - read on. This could provide valuable insight and put the breaks on the burnout.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

This is a brief overview:

Seminal research conducted in 1978 by Dr Pauline Clance and Dr Suzanne Imes (original term Impostor Phenomenon).

Whilst the original research suggested this was a female problem - it is now agreed that all gender, cultural, occupation groups are susceptible to this chronic self-doubt feeling. However, if you are in a group that is in some way not in the 'norm' of your environment - it is likely to be felt to a greater degree.

It is a feeling of inadequacy that persists despite all the evidence. Often experienced by high achievers and academics who put their success down to outside influences rather than their own efforts and skills. 

What does Impostor Syndrome feel like?

Have a look at this checklist of 'feelings' - click to enlarge

How does it lead to burnout?

Perfectionism and fear of being ‘found out’ for the fraud you are (your irrational feeling - not the truth) - this is a classic symptom of Impostor Syndrome - and it is pretty obvious that it can lead to burnout! It is a viscious cycle of overworking  - being super self-critical - overworking to avoid any space for error - if fall short of ridiculous expectations then feel like a fraud! Then - increased Impostor Syndrome - then...overwork....

Impostor Syndrome Cycle

Impostor Syndrome Cycle

How to stop impostor syndrome burnout

  1. Forensics
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Get rational about your feelings. When you feel 'I'm not as good as they think' or 'If I don't put all this work in they will see me as the fraud I am' - get real! Stop the thought process in its tracks by examining the evidence.


Lighten up. Give yourself some time out to do things that you can have some fun with! I have a suggestion - attend an improv class - or come to the Improvised Networking run by Explory Story.


Talk to others about these feelings - you will discover that you are not alone! People might not have put the label to their feelings - but they will certainly recognise the symptoms and results. The more you talk about it the more you and others start taking masks of perfection off.

And finally

Work with me

There is nothing like objective feedback combined with tactics and the chance to explore and change habits. I am a recovering Impostor - I get it.

Let's have a talk about coaching that would work well for you.

01202 243139

[email protected]

Trisha Lewis Communication Coach

About the Author Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.

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