where did it come from, how does it manifest itself and 4 practices from a psychologist to cope

We figured out what is the peculiarity of the remote impostor syndrome: they told why memes are good news and society is to blame for everything, moreover, primitive ancestors are here, what signs the impostor has in the body and head. And at the end, they shared practices and tips to make friends with the impostor inside. Read in the article

With the impostor syndrome, a person does not correlate his qualities and achievements with himself. It is a mixture of anxiety, attitudes, deep beliefs, perfectionism, self-worth. When you push away well-deserved results and do not recognize your own successes. Our team sorted out the impostor syndrome remotely with psychologist Viktor Mizilin.

Two good ones and one bad news for people with impostor syndrome

The good news is a fashion syndrome that’s easy to talk about.

If we compare two psychological phenomena: “low self-esteem” and “impostor syndrome”, then the second phenomenon is easier to recognize in oneself and talk about it. It’s a good news. With mental phenomena, the main problem is when people are embarrassed, ashamed, or difficult to notice something about themselves. With such a fashionable syndrome, it is easier to work through the problem and change something in yourself and life.

There are a lot of memes about the impostor in the information space, and this is good - people are ready to talk about him, find him at home and do something about it.

There are a lot of memes about the impostor in the information space, and this is good – people are ready to talk about him, find him at home and do something about it.

More Good News – Sometimes Imposter Syndrome Helps

All mental states (for example, feeling like an impostor) are former beneficial reactions that helped us survive at some point. Therefore, sometimes it is a good strategy not to relate some achievements, some results to yourself.

When you experience impostor syndrome at work, you become more focused on your co-workers. Involvement in communication and collaboration increases – efficiency increases. In this way, you compensate for your apparent incompetence and work hard to become a good team player with strong social skills.

The bad news is that you do not recognize qualities, achievements, benefits, value in yourself.

“Well, what am I, it’s all a team and a lucky coincidence.” This attitude reduces the level of self-worth. Self-esteem falls – hence sometimes low wages, rejection of opportunities, processing. There is already close to exhaustion or burnout.

  Another interpretation of the syndrome.

Another interpretation of the syndrome.

The origins of the syndrome come from primitive society

People at the primitive stage of development formed our modern system of thinking. And for a man who was waiting for such misfortunes as predators, hunger and cold, the most terrible thing was rejection of the tribe. If a tribesman claimed a slightly larger deer leg than he was entitled to, then his chances of being expelled increased.

Therefore, over a thousand generations, people have formed an internal mechanism, a safety lock not to claim something superfluous, not to take someone else’s and what you have no right to. This is a “survival” socially adaptive mechanism that should regulate and give an understanding of how to claim exactly as much as we correspond to.

When we achieve success, recognition, but at the same time we do not grow our inner core, our inner “goodness” and value, an imbalance occurs.

  Since primitive times, there has been a regulatory mechanism so that each member of society claims exactly as much as it corresponds to.

Since primitive times, there has been a regulatory mechanism so that each member of society claims exactly as much as it corresponds to.

Is impostor syndrome good for society?

When you adapt to communication with other people, a team, society, this is normal. If it’s in moderation.

The impostor syndrome causes a radical desire to fit in and become “one’s own”. And society is cool and healthy when you consider yourself not valuable enough or not so good. So you definitely will not claim a special role, leadership and recognition. If you get a smaller piece of the “cake” (read: money/praise), then the rest will get more.

Human Benefit: Adaptation, Comfort, Fear and Responsibility

With impostor syndrome, you are somewhat safe:

  • you don’t climb on the rampage, you won’t compete and conflict with the environment, you won’t stick out – this is useful for social adaptation. When moving to a new team, for example.

  • you are in a socially comfortable state (you will not be considered an upstart and a smart-ass)

  • set yourself a framework for development and avoid the fear of failure

  • not presenting yourself or taking on additional responsibilities that can be difficult and unsettling (for example, when you need to teach a colleague or newcomer something, introduce a project, lead a team, or talk to management about a promotion)

Imposter syndrome is in some ways a “fuse” for your social role. You can’t just “knock it down with a crowbar” and rejoice. It is important to understand how it works and reconfigure the syndrome to fit your needs.

Can I beat impostor syndrome once and for all?

The feeling of an inner impostor is not a childhood disease that you can get vaccinated against and then forget about it for life.

We all subjectively feel our level of value, the level of “goodness” or usefulness. Therefore, we claim a certain social product, that is, goods and services in accordance with this intrinsic value.

Evaluation of self-worth occurs quickly and unconsciously:

“I feel like I have a certain value, which means that I can claim exactly this amount of benefits. If I claim more than I myself feel, then I feel like I’m stealing, taking someone else’s.

You can not take and cut off the inner impostor. You need to work with yourself.

But what about the remote? The border of understanding “where am I?” is erased.

Trick from mirror neurons and spatial thinking

We have spatial thinking. Neurons responsible for spatial function are one of the nodal crossroads of the brain. Therefore, when we set goals, we use the phrases: “we need to reach the goal”, “come to the result”, “get away from danger”. Everywhere there is a verb that is associated with movement: come, leave, reach.

At a distance, our thinking does not correlate the results achieved with our professional role. For example, you sit in slippers and a stretched T-shirt, and you receive praise from management for your work. The space does not correspond to the information received, so it is difficult to recognize one’s merits.

And how it should be: we share home and work

And vice versa, in offline work conditions, neurons understand that they need to work in the office, and relax at home. Here you are sitting on a chair in the office in a business suit, talking about goals, tasks and correlating the received feedback with your competence.

When you move your body home after a working day, put on comfortable clothes, relax and live life, neurons switch. It is no longer necessary to achieve work goals and complete tasks (who have working boundaries, of course). In such a situation, the transition from one role to another is obvious – automatic switching takes place.

When the official teleworking appeared a few years ago, people stopped switching. The brain does not understand: are we already at work or still at home? It seems that technically nothing has changed: so I opened my laptop and plunged into the process. But the setting for the process has changed. Because of this, the organization immediately limps in work, and a feeling of frustration is triggered. As a result, when you work remotely, you don’t relate yourself to the work role and you get frustrated in an embrace with the impostor syndrome.

Fingers up: The Imposter’s Check-Up

  1. You feel acute discomfort when you need to present yourself.

  2. You resist when you need to ask for help, ask or just talk.

  3. You feel anxiety when you need to get acquainted, introduce yourself.

  4. You feel spasms in the throat and in the area just below the throat.

  5. You understand that it’s hard to speak or your voice has completely disappeared (this was muscle spasm due to tension).

Fix this situation in order to work out this state in a calm environment and do the practices (read on with the article).

Fix this situation in order to work out this state in a calm environment and do the practices (read on with the article).

How are procrastination and impostor syndrome similar?

Procrastination and the impostor syndrome have one basic common root – a lack of values.

When is it beneficial to procrastinate? When the task that was going to be done is either incomprehensible, or the results of this task are blurred, or “the game is not worth the candle”. That is, the benefit from solving the problem is very doubtful.

It’s the same with an impostor. When you think about whether or not to enter into social communication, there is a feeling that social communication will not be pleasant, successful, effective. It won’t happen for the sake of which it is being done.

At a distance, the brain still does not switch to a working mood. He believes that now you are not in the role of a cool specialist, ready to go forward and solve the tasks, but a person free from work worries. This means that you will not achieve the goal of the upcoming communication: the brain simply does not believe that you are now in the right role and with competencies.

The impostor gets stressed out before big tasks, which is another common trait with procrastination.

The impostor gets stressed out before big tasks, which is another common trait with procrastination.

Practice time: how the mechanism of the syndrome works and what to do about it

You need to figure out where this feeling came from in you and in this very moment. Then take a few steps.

We have a feature. We assign humanlike characteristics to all phenomena.


  1. You see that the conditional “Ivan Ivanovich” is doing great negotiations, then we correlate the action and the person. This same Ivan Ivanovich becomes your negotiating model.

  2. When you see that someone is negotiating, you compare this person (or yourself) with Ivan Ivanovich.

  3. And how you emotionally relate to that very Ivan Ivanovich, how you relate yourself to the attached role model, depends on your attitude towards yourself. For example, you do not like Ivan Ivanych, who is normal in negotiations, but not normal as a person. So, when you negotiate, you will also treat yourself negatively.

Practice “Looking for Ivan Ivanovich”

When to use:

  • think about the upcoming communication and consider yourself insufficiently competent

  • you feel that same impostor syndrome before the action

What to do:

  1. Make a list of your Ivan Ivanovichs, who became an example for you in the upcoming action, but at the same time annoyed or even angered you with something.

  2. Highlight their cool qualities. If this is not done, then the focus on shortcomings will be mirrored in relation to oneself. It is easier for the psyche to concentrate on the negative, so here you need to try to find exactly the positive, cool qualities.

  3. Analyze the list of cool features.

  4. Try them on yourself, find these traits in yourself. Then you will appreciate yourself for similar actions that Ivan Ivanovichi performed in your life.

  5. Write down a list of situations where you excelled at the skills you learned from interacting with this person or from their experiences and actions.

Practice “Thanks to teachers”

When to use:

What to do:

  1. Recall who was our teacher or example in this activity.

  2. Pay attention to his positive actions, strengths, classiness.

  3. Express gratitude to the teacher.


Someone teaches how to use a program for creating presentations (PowerPoint or any other). You can prepare and submit a presentation. And do it calmly and confidently without stress and anxiety.

  1. You think about the person who taught you prez.

  2. Through gratitude to teachers, you explain to yourself why you are valuable. How happy can you be to have met him in your life?

  3. The behavioral teacher is not an outward person. We may never meet him, but this is not important in this practice. It is important that his image sits in your head. If you send negative emotions and feelings towards the teacher, then you yourself will see the same thing in yourself.

  4. When you thank, rejoice and feel happiness from the experience with the teacher and manifest these qualities yourself, all these emotional merits go to you too.

Remember the difference between an ordinary “thank you” and a deep gratitude:

The first is common courtesy.

Secondly, a skill that needs to be trained so that it becomes very deep, emotionally charged and realized gratitude.

Practicing Mindfulness with a Specific Impostor Sense

When to use:

What to do:

Understand and accept that there is such a problem. Then choose one or two ways to work on yourself at once:

Method 1. When you sense an impostor in a social interaction, say to yourself:

“Yes, I feel tension, I don’t like it”

“I want this tension to be as low as possible and social interaction to be as easy as possible.”

So you recognize the problem in yourself (see the enemy in the face) and you can set a task for yourself. And if the brain has a task, it will look for ways to solve it. Maybe the solution will be a step towards fear, or maybe a focus on strengths. For every problem there is a solution.

Method 2. Find the value that cannot be broadcast because of the impostor. And go into what scares. Consciously go and present yourself, initiate something, promote, sell, communicate.

For example, it is scary to ask for a pay rise, although you feel that you are valuable as an employee. This particular value of yours must be taken and conveyed to the management. Write out, find facts, show benefits for the company.

The practice of “Decomposing the whole into parts”

When to use:

  • faced with a task that is more difficult than our capabilities

  • it seems that “I am small and not very valuable, but the matter is large and complex”

What to do:

  1. You cut the task down to simple and understandable, which you can do with the help of your capabilities

  2. Give every small task a goal, a measurable result

  3. You notice your progress and praise for each completed task, even small and elementary


Need to find a job online. There was no such experience before.

Divide into subtasks:

  1. fill out a resume on sites with vacancies (write out a list of former jobs and task area)

  2. choose one offer from the list

  3. coordinate with the company’s HR

  4. choose clothes (but what?)

  5. Before the call, prepare answers to possible questions according to the checklist

  6. put a glass of water next to the computer.

When a complex task is broken down into elementary actions, the behavioral experience in each specific action is stronger, more powerful and more conscious than the task.

How to work with a remote team and organize yourself, your inner value, in order to cope with the impostor syndrome?

It is the remote team that is usually lacking. There is no office space where colleagues are nearby. It is not clear where these people are, how and what they do, whether I do it at all. It was funny that some person put a cardboard thing in front of the camera at meetings, went out, hung out, a cardboard mannequin worked instead. We relate to ourselves what we value in others.

What to do:

  1. Thank the team. When you value your team for their contributions, you are essentially explaining to yourself and your nervous system that something good is happening because of that contribution. So the impostor is less likely to discount the achievements, because you have already thanked for them.

  2. Thank yourself. When a colleague/employee made a contribution to the results, and you also put effort, time and skills into this, then thank yourself. And it’s better to write down after the fact: what you did → what result you got → thanked yourself for this action and effort.

  3. Remember the boomerang principle. Whatever you send out comes back in. This is how the mirror neurons of our learning circuit work. When you appreciate and thank the team or team members for their contribution, you increase your own capacity.

How can a freelancer realize his value if the feedback from customers is very different?

Fill in the table with three columns: project, payment and emotional evaluation.

The amount of payment for the project = the value of your skills in this project.

Emotional appreciation = the value of this project in your life.

The more you want to work with just such projects, the higher your emotional rating. With this data, you can see the big picture.

When you analyze the results, you will form your own value system. Then there will be less chance of taking low-paying projects or those that are not high.

How are money and buzz from the project connected?

The biggest money will be in those projects where you have the best emotional assessment.

Your perception of yourself is influenced by a bunch of factors that you unconsciously perceive. Therefore, there is such a wonderful language as emotions. This ancient language of the limbic system reflects a simple truth: how much you enjoy what is happening.

To evaluate the interaction, factors are taken into account: money and emotions. The principle is used: the more money, the better, and the same with emotions.

The table described above helps to see a more objective picture of the assessment. Yes, these assessments are subjective, somewhere with a finger in the sky, but when a group gathers, you can see the connection, dependence and patterns.

How to distinguish the impostor syndrome from the lack of competencies? Checking hard and soft skills

Hard skills – there are professional standards in various industries, they are somehow digitized, collected. For example, you either know English at the level program or you don’t. There are tests – passed, measured, excellent.

Soft Skills – subjective skills. They are tied to people. And there are a bunch of different classification systems for personality types, types in communication, MBTI and others. You choose and pass the test that meets the criteria.

When evaluating Soft Skills, keep in mind that all people are different and you cannot adapt to everyone. Your skills will definitely work well with certain people.

And to help yourself overcome the impostor syndrome, to show your skills, knowledge and skills – use practice “Thanks to teachers“. Then you will be able to adequately assess your competencies and learn to broadcast your value.

Same thing, but 10 times shorter…

The impostor syndrome is the inability to recognize one’s own merits and victories. This leads to depreciation.

Getting rid of it forever is almost impossible, because:

  • you are part of a society where benefits are shared among all members – to each according to his deserts;

  • trying to evaluate yourself through comparison with others and “your teachers”;

  • you want to be in a comfortable social position and not worry about possible responsibility for the results.

What to do:

  • acknowledge the problem with the impostor;

  • understand how it affects your life, what you refuse and what values ​​you do not broadcast;

  • implement the practices from the article into life: be aware of your Ivan Ivanovichs and thank them, divide the whole into parts, keep a table of projects, notice the good, thank yourself for great victories and achievements;

  • track progress, record it in notes, on paper, or at least in your head.

And then responsibility, the concept of guilt (something not achieved, some failures) will slowly disappear.

Message from YaNorm

Hello, we are YaNorm, a happy lifestyle platform. We create tracks – these are personal plans to get rid of problems with diagnostics, practices, theory and psychologists. And now we are conducting open diagnostics.

To deal with the impostor gently and create balance in life, as well as create your own happy path – come to free diagnostic session.

Together with the support of the “JaNorm” happiness coach in 30-60 minutes:

  • understand your state at the current point

  • you will find the causes that cause negative states and poison life

  • you will build a path with concrete steps to the state of “I am normal” and a happy lifestyle

This way we will collect more information for our research on happiness, and you will get a portrait of the state and get acquainted with the platform for free.

To change life according to personal instructions – start the bot and choose a convenient time to meet.

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