The link between imposter syndrome and burnout - Deepstash
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Imposter syndrome is a known problem among professionals

Imposter syndrome is a known problem among professionals

Studies suggest that up to 70% of people have experienced impostorism at work. Imposter syndrome might sometimes motivate people to achieve, but it can also put intense pressure on mental health.

As the workplace experience a period of rapid change, it is critical to understand how these two conditions feed into each other and what can be done to prevent them.


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Imposter syndrome (IS) symptoms

Imposter syndrome (IS) shows up differently in people. It commonly makes someone believe they are an intellectual fraud, despite evidence to the contrary.

  • People with IS may feel the need to over-work and over-deliver to avoid being found out.
  • They might be high achievers or avoid taking on challenges so they can't be 'found out.'
  • They attribute success to luck or hard work rather than ability.


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Feeling like a fraud

Feeling like a fraud

A key factor why Impostor Syndrome and burnout overlap is that Impostor Syndrome shows up in a similar way to the third dimension of burnout - the feeling of professional inefficacy.

When you are experiencing burnout, you never feel you are doing enough. You feel like the ineffective person on the team. This is very similar to the definition of imposter syndrome.

With IS, people develop tactics to compensate for or mask their impostorism, such as taking on too much work to win approval or avoiding promotion because they fear exposure.


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Prevention is key

Research shows GenZ workers are most likely to struggle with both imposter syndrome and burnout.

Junior staff that launched their careers during the pandemic were unable to observe colleagues in person and adjust to workplace dynamics. They did not receive moments of feedback and reassurance that are vital to building professional confidence. However, older generations are suffering too.

  • On an individual level, imposter syndrome can be tackled by rewiring the brain's response to stress.
  • Workers should be encouraged to build cognitive boundaries around their work.


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