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Daragh Byrne
Daragh Byrne

Posted on

Three pro tips for tackling impostor syndrome

There is no shortage of articles about impostor syndrome on and other programming websites.

It's a perennial topic for developers. It will ALWAYS be something we have to deal with. It's a career where we can NEVER know everything - the possibility to feel lost will always be with us.

Here are three of my favourite resources that contain practical tools you can start using right now to tackle it. At best, it's irritating, at worst debilitating. But there are practical steps you can start taking today that will help you overcome it.

Increase your knowledge

Impostor syndrome is often a feeling of not knowing enough, or having missed the basics.

Rob Connery's Impostor's Handbook attempts to fill the gap. It's excellent. Everything you wished you knew about programming and CS that you were too afraid to ask your colleague about because you were afraid they would finally see through it. Link below, money well spent (I'm not associated with Rob, I just loved the book).

This is particularly great for self-taught developers. I showed it to my colleague and his eyes lit up - he called it a goldmine!

Understand the problem

Knowing what you're up against is important when it comes to any problem.

Here's my dissection of impostor syndrome as a FEELING - an emotional state, with understandable roots and a definite way out. Once you learn that the feeling of being an impostor is not correlated to the reality of how you are perceived, you can

Embody success

Our bodies can change our minds. How we position ourselves, in a physical sense, can change the we you feel about ourselves. Learn how with Amy Cuddy's excellent Ted Talk. Posture is power! And changing your body language is free.

How about you? What are your pro tips?

I write about mindfulness and meditation for software developers over at

Top comments (7)

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

My tip is kind of a meta tip:

Once you know the name of what you're feeling (imposter syndrome) - you can start to have power over it. You can say "oh - this feeling is natural" instead of "ahhh, I'm failing!", and then you can work towards a more positive and productive mindset.

bootcode profile image
Robin Palotai

Thanks for the Impostor Book reference! Seems like a nice companion to my Programming Without Anxiety book.

Former seems to concentrate on the curriculum and tooling part, mine on tackling stuck progress and hard situations (now working on the part about debugging..).

I liked the graphics - it reminds me of Illustrating Basic, which was remarkably well written and set.

ikemkrueger profile image
Ikem Krueger

The books are really expensive...

bootcode profile image
Robin Palotai

Your wish be heard! Use coupon DEVTO on Programming Without Anxiety for a 50% discount :)

Applicable 10 times, expires in a week.

cecilelebleu profile image
Cécile Lebleu

I like to think of it this way: I work to exceed expectations, I take enough time to care for my health (sleep, good food, relaxing when I need to, etc), and then I spend every moment I can learning. Thus I’m learning as much as is physically possible for me. If I honestly give my best, while not attacking my health, every single day, there is no way I am an impostor. So far it’s working. I know most developers know more than me because they’ve been at it longer; but I have other skills that other developers don’t have; I was a designer before starting developing.

It reminds me of a piece of advice for college students I read somewhere: “Sleep more than you study, study more than you party, party as much as you can”, only I change the order and add in work.

PS: The paragraph right before the article seems to be cut off 🤭

pdandy profile image
Andy Thompson

Increase your knowledge

Writing an article on imposter syndrome, only to further perpetuate it by suggesting readers don't know enough...

codingmindfully profile image
Daragh Byrne

It's one of a trio of resources I suggested. The working with emotional content, the fake it till you make it, and, yes, fill in some gaps you might feel :)

The longer article I referenced gives a fuller explanation of my stance!