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Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Ways of Debunking Impostor Syndrome


Disclaimer: Mental health will be talked about as a topic. I am not a mental health professional, these are only my opinions and personal experiences I am sharing.

lone person outside at night with a campfire, mountains in the background

He cried out and slumped to his knees to ask, “Why is this happening to me?” He had just brought home his baby girl only 10 days ago. He wasn’t sure of what to do or how to make the pain go away, but he knew something was wrong. He texted his friend that he was having ill thoughts and struggling with getting help. He decided to check himself into a hospital at 3am in the morning, which ended up saving his life.

I’m glad I drove there that day, because I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t and my wife and two daughters would be without a father. That was over two and a half years ago, and life has been incredible along with many blessings. 

I wanted to share some parts of my story with you today in hopes that it can help open the discussion more of Imposter Syndrome and highlight some ways I was able to overcome it in my life.

Do You…

  • Credit your success to chance, connections or some other external factor?
  • Deflect responsibility for your actions?
  • Feel you have something to prove?
  • Avoid challenging yourself?
  • Struggle with being flexible and are a perfectionist?
  • Have a hard time receiving constructive criticism?
construction woman holding red flag with a warning triangle

These are all warning signs of Imposter Syndrome

It’s hard to sometimes identify and relate to experiences, relationships, thoughts, and other forms of mental health. What worked for me might not work for others, and what worked for others might not work for me. The point is to be open and honest with yourself for being aware of the signs and ways to not go at things alone.

So what is Imposter Syndrome?

woman standing with a whirwind around her

“…psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

-Psychology Today

Exploring the Impact

There are so many different ways that we can doubt ourselves, but most of the time we don’t really know how to identify what’s going on until it’s too late, which can have a negative effect if we wait too long.

  • If you don’t get your head around it, it can cripple you.
  • If you let it get ahold of you, it can add psychological distress, increased self-doubt, and persistent fears of failure.
  • It can negatively impact your career.
  • It can destroy relationships.
  • You can miss opportunities because you don’t feel worthy or capable, despite being competent.
woman sitting on a bench outdoors

5 Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome

man in hoodie walking in front of wall of code

#1 Perfectionism
“You’re not good enough.”

man in front of many computer screens


  1. Have you ever been accused of being a micromanager?
  2. Do you have great difficulty delegating? Even when you’re able to do so, do you feel frustrated and disappointed in the results?
  3. When you miss the mark on something, do you accuse yourself of “not being cut out” for your job and dwell on it for days?
  4. Do you feel like your work must be 100% perfect, 100% of the time?

The first 5 years of marriage I asked myself

Why am I so angry all the time?

My identity became; Someone who struggled controlling my anger and attitude. I was always trying to perfect getting it right all the time, which I didn’t. This was not only impacting my wife, but also my career where I was let go from jobs due to my struggle with this identity. You would think that working in a remote setting would give you an advantage of not being around people and make it easier to “put on a happy face” when communicating, not true. The issue was real, the impact was real, and the conversation that I had with my wife the first week of December, right before Christmas, was real, “I was let go today.”

So, what did it take to dig myself out of that hole along with everything else that was going on?

man sitting outside questioning himself

How I’ve navigated perfectionism

What I did about it

  • I finally understood I can’t change overnight. The change has to come from me.
  • I set up an accountability plan with my friends.
  • I sought out professional help and counseling.

You won’t be able to change until you make that decision on your own, no one can force you to change. Knowing that it’s going to take time and progressive small changes is important, once you understand that you can start to give yourself grace. I had and still have an incredible community I’m surrounded by, including everyone in the WordPress community. Reach out to people that you trust and can help keep you accountable. I cannot stress this enough of how amazing it is to have people walk by your side with you through hard times. When you are loved and cared for, it’s an incredible feeling. If you don’t have someone or a few people in your immediate circle, I would encourage you to do that as a first step which will give you permission to stop setting the bar so high for yourself and love yourself even more.

“Learn to take your mistakes in stride, viewing them as a natural part of the process.”

#2 Superhero
“Work harder to measure up.”

woman in a superhero cape


  1. Do you stay later at the office than the rest of your team, even past the point that you’ve completed that day’s necessary work?
  2. Do you get stressed when you’re not working and find downtime completely wasteful?
  3. Have you left your hobbies and passions fall by the wayside, sacrificed to work?
  4. Do you feel like you haven’t truly earned your title, so you feel pressed to work harder and longer than those around you to prove your worth?

Being let go from jobs

Am I good enough?

My identity became; A failure, someone who second guessed themselves in the professional world. I thought by working more and more as a freelancer to provide for my family would be a good idea , but it ultimately became my idol. My wife and I wanted to get out of debt, so I had this burning desire to work and pay everything off that we could. Have you ever been there? Wanting something so bad that it just consumes you? That was me. 

My priorities had changed, I had changed, it was time to take a step back and take a look at myself a bit closer.

man flying in the sky wearing shirt and tie

How I’ve navigated superhero

What I did about it

  • I started putting more focus on what I was doing right instead of wrong, training in multiple areas.
  • I created a schedule for my family to block out time during the week.
  • I realized my value wasn’t in my work, it was in me.

When we fail, we can become overwhelmed with the idea of wanting to fix a “thing” that we do, a bad habit we have, a stressful relationship, or most of the time, how we perform at our jobs. I wanted to get away from all the small things I dwelled on to correct and instead focus on areas that would improve my performance, skillset, and confidence. I sat down with my wife and created specific days that I would be available for family time and not working. Creating a schedule allowed me to be in control of myself instead of the work controlling me, which is a hard task for anyone to try and separate from. If you’re struggling financially or need the work, there are sometimes seasons in life when you need to sacrifice for a while to get ahead down the road. It’s a balance of being open and honest about where you’re at as a person. You’re worth and value are inside of you, and no one else, remember that.

“No one should have more power to make you feel good about yourself than you.”

#3 Natural Genius:
“Get things right on the first try.”

woman sitting on top of a 404 warning

Questions/Natural Genius

  1. Are you used to excelling without much effort?
  2. Do you avoid challenges because it’s so uncomfortable to try something you’re not great at?
  3. When you’re faced with a setback, does your confidence tumble because not performing well provokes a feeling of shame?
  4. Do you dislike the idea of having a mentor, because you can handle things on your own?

Going to jail

Is this all there is to life?

My identity became; Someone who was helpless and didn’t want to depend on others for happiness, to get rid of the void I had in my life. This season in my life was before I was married by about 6-8 years, in my early to mid-twenties. It was a time where I thought only about myself and felt as though nothing could touch me, boy was I wrong. 

I was going out to the bars around 3-4 nights per week, spending hundreds of dollars on drinks for myself, friends, and people I never met. Why? Because I didn’t want to face issues in my life and figured I could take care of myself. How did that work out for me? Well, in 2007 I received two DUIs (Driving under the influence) in the same year. A year later in 2008, my decision to continue to drink and my lifestyle, landed me an all-inclusive paid trip to the county jail, where I spent 55 days in a cell with 7 other men. That was another turning point in my life.

Man looking off into the distance

How I’ve navigated natural genius

What I did about it

  • I got sober and started learning how to pursue true confidence in myself and not through substance.
  • Realizing I’d never been mentored, I joined a local support group to start meeting with other people.
  • I worked out more which helped clear my mind.

I had to move away from the city I was currently living in at the time, it was a college and party town. I relocated back to the nearby city I grew up in and rented a studio apartment. The company I was working at was a blessing, they allowed me to keep my job throughout my time away. I didn’t have a car so I carpooled with co-workers to get to work.

To get sober, I removed myself from the toxic environment and mindset of drowning my issues. The success train for my career and lifestyle had come to a stop. I learned that I was not happy with myself, which in turn impacted my confidence. When the drinking went away, I was happier. I was joyful, I appreciated things, and people could see it.  

I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, I joined a local support group through my church and was mentored by a guy that I knew, who also had been through similar experiences. In addition to that, I started working out, which is an amazing tool to let go of so many things. It helped me understand more about myself and taking care of keeping positive habits.

“Accomplishing great things involves lifelong learning and skill-building—for everyone, even the most confident people.”

#4 Embarrassment:
“What will others think?”

two people with a giant question mark


  1. Do you feel that you need to accomplish things on your own?
  2. Do you frequently have the attitude of, “I don’t need anyone’s help.”
  3. Do you frame requests in terms of the requirements of the project, rather than your needs as a person?

Meeting my wife

Am I a changed man?

My identity became; Someone who questioned allowing others into my life and loving me. Will my wife judge me for my past? Will she love me for me? These are things I experienced during seasons of dating in my life. I didn’t want someone to hold my past against me, even though I had forgiven myself, it was still extremely hard not to think that.

bride and groom in front of fireworks

How I’ve navigated embarrassment

What I did about it

  • I spent 6 hours on the phone with her on our first phone call and told her about my past.
  • I was intentional and honest about what I wanted, not just what she wanted to hear.
  • Told her that I had taken a break from dating and was ready to open up my heart again.

My wife and I met on eharmony and found out she only lived three hours away from me. We had been messaging each other on Facebook Messenger for a few weeks when I finally asked for her number. The first time we talked on the phone was from around 9pm-3am, and of course I had work the next day. That night I told her everything, I expanded on my past and what had happened during my time in jail. I had intentionally put my history on my profile because I didn’t want someone to connect with me unless they accepted that right off the bat, and I knew there were people out there that would, she was one of them.

I was also intentional about what I wanted for myself, that I didn’t want to date someone who drank, and I wanted to eventually marry someone who would be ok with giving up alcohol because they loved me enough. 

See, we get so caught up with living in fear, embarrassment, that we don’t know how to take the mask off and show others our true light. For some, it’s easier, for others, it’s hard. Wherever you’re at with this struggle, know that it’s ok to be open with other people. Sometimes being vulnerable can be very scary, but it’s worth it, because you’re worth it, and you matter.

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself, it will only help weed out those who don’t accept you for who you really are.”

#5 Unworthiness
“You are a fake.”

woman in front of a mirror


  1. Do you shy away from applying to job postings unless you meet every single educational requirement?
  2. Are you constantly seeking out training or certifications because you think you need to improve your skills in order to succeed?
  3. Even if you’ve been in your role for some time, can you relate to feeling like you still don’t know “enough?”
  4. Do you question when someone says you’re an expert?

Daughter is Born

Am I a good husband, father?

My identity became; Someone who didn’t deserve this, couldn’t provide, caused too much pain to my family. Am I going to be a good Dad? Will I be able to provide care for them?

For someone who doesn’t have a college degree, I’ve come to learn throughout the years that there are opportunities everywhere. People look at your character, experience, and willingness to learn. From what I have experienced, they don’t look at what school you went to.

father teaching son to skateboard

How I’ve navigated unworthiness

What I did about it

  • I was tired of giving into the lies, I forced myself to constantly say “there is nothing to be afraid of.”
  • I sought medical service to help manage my mental health and understand things clearer.
  • My family is everything to me, I took control over my own actions to be able to love on them.

After we brought our first daughter home, I went into meltdown mode and couldn’t function. My anxiety was through the roof, I would cry throughout the day for no reason, my confidence gas tank was empty as a new Dad, especially after already experiencing losing our son at 38 weeks in the womb and his heart stopped. After about a week of going through this, I had someone tell me there is nothing to be afraid of, your baby girl is amazing, and they were right. I started going to counseling to peel back layers of my past that had been there without even knowing it, identifying the source of a lot of my pain, it was freeing.

I started to feel my mind becoming clear again, slowly giving me opportunities each day to take steps forward. With the right medication, which I am still on today, I have been able to maintain a balanced work and family life that I couldn’t imagine I have. My first daughter is someone who inspired me to continue pushing forward, because she and my wife needed me. 

I want to make this clear, you should never feel wrong for seeking medical advice or help. From someone who takes medication daily to help with my emotions and anxiety, that is what has worked for me. This is not medical advice, but my opinion on that people shouldn’t be embarrassed if that helps them short or long-term.

“Realize there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. You only miss out when you are silent and no one hears you.”

Most Important: Talk to people

two people having a conversation at a table

Self-identify with some, but reach out to others personally or professionally.

5 Tips to Improve Your Reflection

man in front of a mirror

Understand Strengths & Weaknesses

man running, woman lifting weights

Build up your confidence by becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses.  Once you have a deeper understanding of yourself, you won’t have to spend so much time worrying that you’re not “qualified” for a particular task, project or role.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

woman happy and carefree

The initial step in overcoming Impostor Syndrome is the acknowledgement of how you are feeling.  Remember, though, that acknowledging an emotion isn’t giving in to it.

Talk to Others

two people talking under a tree

Find a safe person or group of people to open up to, in a trusted environment. You might be surprised by how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel.

Overcome Perfectionism

people measuring with a compass

Find a safe person or group of people to open up to, in a trusted environment. You might be surprised by how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel.

Own Your Success

two people cheering with a trophy

Find a safe person or group of people to open up to, in a trusted environment. You might be surprised by how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel.

“Ultimately, impostor syndrome can become a cycle.  Afraid of being discovered as a fake, people with impostor feelings go through contortions to undertake tasks and projects perfectly.  When we succeed, we begin to believe all that anxiety and effort paid off. Eventually, they can develop into almost superstitious beliefs.  Unconsciously, we think our successes must be due to that self-torture.”

Dan Maby, Founder of Big Orange Heart

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