When I graduated from college I went to work as a computer programmer for a large bank, and believe it or not, even with my math degree, I felt like I didn’t belong.

How could I fit in amongst a sea of brilliant programmers? I took the job because my mother said, “a girl with a technical degree will always land a good job.” And I wanted to be self-sufficient.

I was the third child in a brilliant family, including a mother who never got a B and a brother who did math puzzles for fun. It was a challenge living up to those standards.

In today’s parlance, I would call what I experienced imposter syndrome.

Let’s break down imposter syndrome – what it is, how it contributes to burnout, and how to overcome it.

What is imposter syndrome? 

Maureen Zappala, Coach and Presenter for the Imposter Syndrome Institute, defines imposter syndrome as the inability to internalize your success. It causes you to feel incompetent and afraid. Imposter syndrome isn’t a lack of confidence. It’s a limit of confidence.

This feeling of insecurity often caused me to defer to others.

How does imposter syndrome lead to stress and burnout?

Coming to work every day with feelings of insecurity about your abilities undermines your confidence. You may dread going to work and avoid various situations. This limit of confidence robs you of the ability to thrive and be happy.

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Eventually I realized all those self-doubts were limiting beliefs manufactured by my circumstances. My mother, in her zeal to cultivate successful children, always looked for perfection. Even with my degree, I felt not smart enough. Not good enough.

Your insecure thoughts and feelings can be converted.

It was only after taking a close look at my emotional life, did I finally realize that I was good enough and I was smart enough.

As you probably know, awareness is the first step to behavior change. Begin to discover the genesis of your imposter syndrome.

In my Banish Burnout Toolkit, Chapter 2 “Know Your Stress, Spin Your Stress,” teaches you how to analyze your thoughts with a fine-tooth comb. Then you convert those thoughts into rational beliefs, using a tool I call the reality spin, technically known as cognitive reframing.

This practice helps you to replace your feelings of angst with clear and logical thinking. Then you can reclaim your power. What you find is a resilient, positive and intelligent person.

Now that we have dissected imposter syndrome and reframed negative thinking, I believe that imposter syndrome can lead to burnout, and Zappala agrees.

Self-doubt stems from past messages. Negative thoughts cause stress, and chronic stress causes burnout, according to the World Health Organization.

It is important to interrupt those negative thoughts when they emerge. Engaging in this practice helped me to overcome my own imposter syndrome, and I am more confident and happier as a result.