10 alternatives to impostor syndrome

Casey Onder, PhD
3 min readDec 10, 2023
Photo by Дмитрий Хрусталев-Григорьев on Unsplash

Got impostor syndrome? How you manage your fears is what counts. 10 ways to confront and rise above your demons, sans delay:

1. Laser focus on the challenge or performance edge.

For instance: Turn on soldier/warrior mode, go cold and calculated, keep calm and carry on, or carry on as though you were an elite athlete. Fear is information that can be more or less useful to achieve desired result(s).

2. Gamify it.

Similar to #1, treat fear as fodder and discomfort as opportunity to grow, including in resilience. Healthy pressure is exactly that: Healthy. It stretches and empowers.

3. Tell yourself a new story, starring yourself as author/protagonist/hero(ine).

What dragons will you slay? What will you draw on to claim victory? Whimsical can be practical: Impostor syndrome means your “subconscious” is already telling you a story, in one form or another.

4. Connect with an alter ego.

What would your best self, future self, inner mentor or role model do? Act it out, in your mind or literally. It often helps to use a physical cue to connect you to dormant or undeveloped parts of yourself. Think less “faking it,” more practicing a new attitude offering better support.

5. Connect with the higher/larger purpose and ideal result.

What’s best case scenario for those involved/impacted? What value will you offer? Focus and organize your thoughts and actions around the desired outcome specifically, versus your fears.

6. Do something that uplifts you beyond the triggering situation, role or relationship.

Phoning-a-friend, earthporn, music/dance/art, loving touch, prayer/meditation or a great meal can promote a sense of internal alignment, “everything will be OK” or “rightness,” peace and transcendence. What’s uplifting will be unique to you.

7. Activate fierce self-compassion.

If you’re hard on yourself by habit, put hand(s) on your heart, breathe deeply and/or pattern interrupt the negative thought train with positive encouragement. A self bear-hug (or asking for one) and gentle humor can also go a long way.

8. Change your embodiment or physical state.

Something as simple as “fire” breathing, jumping up and down or standing up straight(er) can shift your mental and emotional state. This also reminds you that your in-the-moment experience is just that — a small slice of many potential realities.

9. Make like a scientist, observing your experience with curious detachment.

Thoughts, bodily sensations, emotions — let them ebb and flow. Watch them as distinct from yourself and the big picture. Creative types may prefer to watch as though it were a feature film — emotionally moving and something they can cheer, boo, or walk away as they choose.

10. Connect to your center.

With roots in martial arts, centering can help you stay on your toes from a place of stillness and intention versus reactivity or superfluous movement. Quick and long-form centering techniques from Embodiment Unlimited available here (pdf).

Putting it into practice:

As foundation for new self-management strategies it helps to notice current + historical patterns. What’s beneath your impostor syndrome? What are the ways in which your thoughts and actions reinforce and perpetuate disempowering belief(s)?

Then choose instead to operate from #1 to #10 — or a new approach of your choice. These techniques can be activated immediately pre-performance, in the moment and/or as preventative medicine (regular habits).

Pick one or two to try. Track wins and outstanding gaps so you can dial up or adjust. Test, learn, improve, iterate…

Disclaimer: Depending on how you operate now, this can be a profound and even disorienting shift, making performance more difficult short-term. Learning new steps can be slow and clumsy — or quick and easy, based on abilities, environment and readiness for change. Everyone’s process is different. Based on my personal experience and work with a wide range of clients suffering with this problem, you’ll in the end work more easily and effectively — and much more rewardingly and sustainably — from a more loving, empowered, objective frame of mind and relationship with self.

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Casey Onder, PhD

Executive Coach | Psychologist | PhD. Follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for my newsletter @ caseyonder.com.