Side Chat: Overcoming impostor syndrome


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Do you remember that scene in E.T. when he (E.T., that is) shuffles out of a closet wearing a dress, high heels, a blonde wig, and a little bowler hat?

Yeah, I didn’t really remember it either, until Rachel brought it up on this week’s podcast.

She was using that very vivid mental picture (you should really Google “E.T. in a wig” if you want to laugh) to describe how she’s always felt about dating — she’s E.T. in a wig, and everyone else is a tan, gleaming contestant on the Bachelor.

Obviously this made me LOL. Not only because it’s a hilarious analogy, but because from the outside, it’s patently ridiculous. Of course she’s not a weird alien, trying and failing miserably to perform a common human ritual (dating).

But as dubious as it sounds to me, it feels true to HER, and that’s what impostor syndrome is all about. You’re constantly afraid that you’re going to be “found out” as the fraud you fear you “truly” are, regardless of how silly or illogical it seems on the outside.

In this episode of the podcast, we dived into impostor syndrome and how to overcome it. We covered…

  • Where impostor syndrome comes from, and why it’s so sneaky (hint: it’s because everyone has it, but no one’s willing to talk about it).
  • Why high achievers and intelligent people are actually the MOST likely to suffer from it.
  • Why impostor syndrome tends to go hand-in-hand with the feeling that something came “too easily” to us.
  • How to tell if you’re experiencing impostor syndrome, versus when you might ACTUALLY be an impostor.
  • Plus, I coached Rachel on the fly about her impostor syndrome, and we got to the bottom of what’s going on.


As you’ll become very clear on after hearing this episode, the roots of impostor syndrome run deep. And they can be hard to completely eradicate on your own. After all, the fears and old, sticky beliefs that make you feel like a fraud are often things you’re not fully conscious of.

The whole point of coaching is to help you become conscious of things you didn’t know were there, but have been sabotaging you nonetheless. If you’d like some expert help with letting go of that old crap once and for all (while being able to relax into a process that’s worked for thousands of other people), 1-on-1 coaching may be the perfect fit for you right now.

Want to get more info and set up a time to talk to us about the possibility? Check out our 1-on-1 coaching page here, and click “Let’s talk about it.”


6 Comments // ADD COMMENT


  • Natalie

    I love this whole idea. I’ve had this feeling multiple times. I tried online dating and it completely goes against my personality and every time I went to meet someone it just felt wrong and inauthentic. And then in so many of my jobs where I know I just don’t belong and like you mentioned- just don’t care enough to learn more and really be great at it. I would do the minimum and would just feel drained. As for feeling it where it didn’t belong- sometimes through my blog I feel like I’m not good enough or have anything worth saying to even have it sometimes, even though I’m reassured pretty regularly that I’m doing a really good job with it. I’ll keep at it because I love writing but it’s a constant struggle with feeling like I’m good enough. Great podcast!

    • Rachel East

      Hey Natalie! I’m glad that you’ve had experiences with both the “real” impostor feelings (AKA, just not caring that much) and “false” impostor feelings (AKA, being perfectly acceptable but believing you’re less-than). When you’ve had both experiences, it becomes easier to identify what’s what! If you need it, here’s a big fat permission slip to not do anything that feels wrong, inauthentic, and goes against your personality, and to keep doing the things that you enjoy and are good at, even when you doubt yourself. 🙂

  • Grace

    The part about not wanting to get kicked out of the tribe and your lizard brain protecting you reminded me of something I read about a Neanderthal called Shanidar 1 who was found to have several severe deformities, hearing loss, head trauma, etc. sustained early in his life. But he lived to be really old in caveman years because his tribe took care of him, which shows that even Neanderthals didn’t give up on people who couldn’t contribute. So that’s one way I shut up my lizard brain when it’s telling me people will throw me to the wolves if they find out I’m an impostor – “Neanderthals didn’t, and if these people are worse than that, I don’t want to be friends with them anyway.”

    • Rachel East

      That is such a cool–and funny!–way to respond to your gremlin, Grace! I’m definitely going to share that with people. It’s a great perspective shift! 🙂

  • Jen

    So I’m going to be vulnerable and say that the one place I feel most like an impostor is at work and everything that it involves. I’m prepping for a huge test that I know I have the ability to pass, but because I feel like I don’t belong in the field of engineering, it makes it like it is an impossible task. My friends in engineering have told me multiple times that I am more than capable, that my 11 years of experience and all of the compliments that I get from clients show that. But I feel like most days I can’t shake the impostor feeling.

    Now that I have actually admitted it, I’m going to try to see if I can break through it. But I have to say this side chat finally helped me to admit my feelings.

    • Rachel East

      Thank you for being honest and brave and sharing how you feel, Jen! I’m curious whether you resonated more with our description at the end of REAL impostor syndrome (AKA, I’m really meant to do this, but my inner critic tries to put me down and convince me I’m not enough) versus “fake” impostor syndrome (AKA, you don’t really need or want to be doing it, you should feel like you “should,” and then feel like a fake because you just can’t make the wrong thing work).