Beating the dark triad of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is particularly difficult to beat because it distorts your mental processing in such pervasive and paradoxical ways. It’s driven by a frustrating double bind where the very patterns of thinking and behaviour that so subtly erode your self-esteem also reap significant rewards.

I call these patterns the Dark Triad of imposter syndrome. What are they?


  1. Overthinking

Your mind is constantly busy, engineering solutions to problems and coming up with impressive new ideas. Sure, you’re not sleeping much these days, but everyone knows you’re the brains behind the team’s success. What makes this pattern so addictive is the buzz of finding that answer or having that ‘ah ha’ moment.


  1. Over-planning

You’re exhausted from working excessive hours but addicted to delivering amazing results. You resent carrying the burden of planning and coordinating everyone else’s work but breathe a sigh of relief when your efforts stave off disaster (or at least prevent missing the deadline). Your schedule is so packed with back-to-back meetings that bathroom breaks aren’t an option. But your busy schedule and reputation as the most productive team member feed your addiction to being busy.


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  1. Over working

This is the most obvious sign of imposter syndrome. It usually sets in early when a child learns that hard work at school leads to praise, attention, prizes and rewards. Sadly, this creates a dysfunctional feedback loop. The child equates hard work with social validation, and the vicious cycle of imposter syndrome begins.

Are these patterns familiar to you? If so, it may be time to address your imposter syndrome. The good news is the dark triad can be beaten: Thousands of high achievers have managed to develop authentic confidence. You can do it, too.