The 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome

What are the 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome and why are they so important? How do they help us to spot the early warning signs? How do they fit with the fight-flight-freeze stress response? And how can you turn this around, especially if you're running all four?

Here's What We'll Cover About The 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome

  • Why it's so important to be able to spot the early warning signs for Imposter Syndrome
  • How we developed the 4 Ps model
  • What are the 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome and how can you spot if you're running them
  • What you can do to set yourself free from the 4 Ps!

Watch Here Now:

Here Are Today's Resources For The 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome:

The burnout research study

We spent two years carrying out this research into the link between Imposter Syndrome and burnout and the core findings - as well as practical things you could do today - are here:

The 2019 Imposter Syndrome research study:

This is the research that led to the 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome framework.

Imposter Syndrome Gap

This is one of my definitions of Imposter Syndrome. Find out why it's so important and how it can help us to understand more about how we're running Imposter Syndrome in this episode:

How To Raise The Imposter Syndrome Topic With A Team Member

Want to discuss your Imposter Syndrome concerns with a team member, but you're worried about how to do it and want to make sure they don't run a mile every time they see you, for the rest of time? Then you'll love my free Advice Guide. It explains how to raise the topic, the five super-common bits of well-intentioned advice to avoid (they make things worse) and what to say instead. Grab your copy here - as my gift.

Read Ditching Imposter Syndrome

And if you want to get hold of a copy of Ditching Imposter Syndrome, so you can set yourself free from the secret fear of being found out as not good enough, you can find it here:

Get Your Free Imposter SyndromePersonalised Action Plan

And when you've done my research-backed Imposter Syndrome assessment quiz ( ), let me know - what's your #DoOneThing action from the personalised action plan?

Tweetables On The 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome

The 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome - transcript

This is an AI transcript, so please forgive typos!

Today I want to talk about the 4 Ps of Imposter Syndrome. Iceberg came from the 2019 research study I ran over 20 people internationally, and we can use them either for ourselves or for our colleagues or loved ones. The spot Ditching Imposter Syndrome might be coming out to play. So the first P will not come as a surprise to most of those watching this who've ditching imposter syndrome. It is perfectionism.

Perfectionism setting our standards incredibly high and writing it off as fluke or luck if we dare to actually achieve them. What we found in a research study is there are some people who are what I would call personality perfectionists. Everything always has to be just so. But there are others for who it suddenly comes on as a coping strategy for stress burnout or imposter syndrome. And you can spot this because somebody will suddenly start working much longer hours.

Things will start taking them much longer. They'll be second guessing how people might respond. They might hold back on making decisions because they're scared of getting it wrong. So p number one is perfectionism. P number two is procrastination.

Okay, this is not all about cute cat videos. Procrastination also happens whenever we are doing a task that is like dancing around the edges of what we're meant to be doing rather than diving in and getting it done. Just published the 2022 research study, and we found that over 70% of people with Imposter syndrome were using procrastination as a coping mechanism more than once a day. You heard that, right? Okay, so if this is you, you're in great company.

The third piece, we've got perfectionism procrastination. It's Project Paralysis. This is the classic rabbit in headlights. You're kind of hiding like a kid playing hide and seek behind the curtains or behind just closing their eyes like they think you can't see them. We're hiding from the thing that it is that we need to do that opened up ditching Imposter Syndrome gap.

I've put a link to that video below this. If you've not seen it yet, ditching imposter Syndrome gap is important to know about. It widens the gap so our bridge, bridge, bridge of coping strategies longer enough. And so what we do is we pretend we simply can't see whatever it is that's frankly freaking us out. The other thing that we do is we then use the stress and adrenaline of the deadline to push on through and get it done, often doing stuff like pulling an all-nighter.

So this is Project Paralysis. And the fourth P is people pleasing, not having boundaries over giving too much for free, not charging what we're worth, not asking for a salary raise, walking into a meeting with one set of priorities, coming up with another, volunteering for things that aren't really our job when we're already drowning because we want to feel safe that we belong and not feel rejected. So the four piece are perfectionism procrastination project Paralysis and People Pleasing. And what we also found in this model is it perfectly fits the fight flight freeze response, the sympathetic nervous system that fires up when we feel fear or we feel we're in danger. So this runs at an autonomic level, which means your nervous system is doing all of this for you.

So that whole project, that whole idea of, like, the bridge of coping strategies and how to cope with Imposter Syndrome, how to handle it, the problem with that is you've already done the four PS by the time the conscious bit of the brain goes, yeah, Imposter Syndrome, self sabotage. Okay? So the way it fits that perfectionism is a fight. I'm going to slay that goal. I am going to beat that target.

Procrastination is the flight. We are busy and moving and running busyness, as I call it, but we're not actually heading towards our goal. Then you've got the freeze, quite obviously, project Paralysis and then the People pleasing is a new category from psychologists called fawning, which is the equivalent of stroking the sabre toothed tiger on the nose and asking it not to bite you. So you can see this is running at an unconscious level. This is why the work I do in ditching Imposter Syndrome is one I prepared earlier, or in my Imposter Syndrome boot camp, or stepping up to lead.

Or with my Imposter Syndrome first-aider or mentor training. It's about going below the surface, setting yourself free from the coping strategies so that you've cleared out what was triggering Imposter Syndrome, so you can close the Imposter Syndrome gap to become all of who you really are, so you simply don't have to worry about it in the future. It is not incurable. The very first step is finding out whether you're even ditching Imposter Syndrome. Okay?

Which of the three types you are actually running if you are, and getting a personalised action plan to make a start today on turning this around, you can do that. As my gift, we fed the research into a quiz style assessment tool. The link is here. Go and take the assessment now. Read your personalised action plan, take some action and then reply to the email you'll get there from me.

Let me know what is your do. One thing. What are you going to do today to start turning Imposter Syndrome around? If you found this video useful, make sure you subscribe, which will be, I think, and hit the little bell button to get notified whenever new how to or inspiration on Imposter Syndrome is published. And I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

About the author

Clare Josa

Clare is considered a global authority in the fields of Imposter Syndrome, burnout and toxic resilience, and has been an international keynote speaker for over 20 years.

The author of 8 books, a reformed engineer and the former Head of Market Research for one of the world's most disruptive brands, she blends research-backed practical inspiration with demystified ancient wisdom, to help you create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever.

Want to find out your Imposter Syndrome Score? Take Clare's free research-backed, quiz-style assessment and get your score plus a personalised action plan in the next 3 minutes.

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