Here are ways to gain confidence and kick the impostor habit:

  • Be patient. Most people feel like impostors when they take on new responsibilities. Just because you feel underqualified today doesn't mean you'll always feel that way, says Leila Durr, PhD. Accepting your feelings--without dwelling on them--can rob them of their power, she notes.

  • Acknowledge positive feedback. Too often, says Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, people who feel like impostors don't absorb compliments. She suggests keeping a praise notebook. Gail Matthews, PhD, recommends asking people to be more specific in their accolades.

  • Fight compulsive work habits. Many people who experience impostor feelings develop "magic" rituals that help them study for tests and feel prepared. Experiment with what it would be like to take a test without having pulled an all-nighter, for example.

  • Forgive your own mistakes. "Realize that if you're doing something new, you may not have it mastered yet," Durr says. "Cut yourself some slack."

  • Try therapy. A variety of experiences and cognitions can underpin and maintain your impostor feelings. Psychotherapy can help you better understand yourself and root out the basis of your fears.

  • Celebrate. When you've done a good job, take some time to enjoy it, says Matthews. For example, go out to dinner after passing your comps.

--J. Gould