CLEVELAND — “Imposter Syndrome” isn't medically diagnosable, but it has been highly researched since the 1970s.

What You Need To Know

  • “Imposter Syndrome” isn't medically diagnosable, but it has been highly researched since the 1970s

  • It's when an individual feels like they know what's happening and what they're doing, but they really don't

  • When you're feeling self-doubt, you can remind yourself of your accomplishments, and understand feeling like an "imposter" doesn't mean you are one

Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers said about 70% of people will experience this phenomenon at some point in their lives.

“People who experience the imposter syndrome, they often feel like everyone else knows what's going on and knows what they're doing, but they feel lost. They also live with this intense fear that people are going to catch on to this — that they don't really know what they're doing and be exposed as a fraud," Albers explained.

The initial study took place in 1978 and focused on high-achieving women who attributed their success to luck rather than skill.

“Fast forward to today, and over 70% of people report experiencing the imposter syndrome, and probably more because it's not something that we really talk about people who are very highly successful even experienced this phenomenon — doctors, lawyers celebrities, even Einstein was reported as saying that he believed his research got way more attention and praise that it really deserved," Albers said.

Researchers have not found a specific reason imposter syndrome occurs, but they have found triggers.

“It is often triggered by a new experience, a new job or role, even parenting, sometimes dating even brings out this phenomenon of feeling like an imposter worrying that your significant other is going to catch on to think you're not really as great as you are and you live in constant fear that they're going to leave you at any moment.”

If you are someone who experiences this self-doubt, Albers said there are a few things you can do.

"If you have these thoughts, notice it, and then reframe it. When your mind says, 'I don't know what I'm doing.' Remind yourself it is OK, and that you may not know but you are very capable of learning. Separate out fact from feeling just because you feel like an imposter doesn't mean that you are. Also there's a difference between how we act, and how we feel. Pause for a moment and think about how would a confident person act in this situation," Albers said. "Also keep a record of your accomplishments, the feedback people give you, their compliments, so that when you have those moments of self-doubt or anxiety, you can go back to that file and review the things that you have done, and the success that you have had.”