This week I attended a course on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.  Although I had heard it mentioned a few times in my short PhD career, I did not really know what it was.  However, once it was explained as the inner critic, I understood exactly what we were talking about.  I recognised immediately the types of messages that come from the inner critic – you are not good enough, of course you do not understand, you are not creative.  However, we receive them internally as I am not good enough.

It was suggested that we need to think of the inner critic as a separate person to us and even think about giving it a name as somebody we might be able to easily ignore!  I am not sure about this idea and cannot immediately think of a name, but I will mull it over as to whether it might be a helpful strategy.  I can see the usefulness of doing this as a means of separating my inner critic from me.

Another suggested strategy was to create an imaginary Board of Directors who would be able to contextualise the issue raised by your inner critic – to provide perspective.  The imaginary Board might include your future self, a critical friend, a cheerleader, a mentor and role model.  The Board should be used to provide support when the inner critic chatters.

The strategy I related most to however was the Daily Data Gathering exercise.  Each day I should commit to write down:  3 wins; 2 strengths or skills I have used to good effect and 1 positive feeling I have experienced.  It is intended to make us more aware of when things are going well and that every day has its positive elements.

And finally, we were reminded of David Kolb’s Learning Cycle (1983):

The Experiential Learning Cycle – David Kolb (1983)

And, in particular, the part that failure has in the learning process – learning requires us to feel uncomfortable and fail.  Failure allows us to make progress and change direction or approach.

As with all the Organisational and Professional Development (OPD) courses I have attended, there are ideas and approaches that resonate and others that do not.  I find it helpful, through the writing of a summary, to record the most relevant to me, for future reference as I progress through my PhD.



Kolb, D. (1983). Experiential Learning:  Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. London, Pearson FT Press.


Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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