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Episode 94:

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome (with guest therapist Dr. Lincoln Hill)


Session Notes

Have you ever felt like people are going to find out you're a fraud, or that you don't really deserve the success you've had?

Dr Lincoln Hill is a Chicago therapist who specializes in Imposter Syndrome.  In this episode of Music Therapy, Dr. Hill and Jessica explore Imposter Syndrome.  

We discuss:

  • What is Imposter Syndrome?

  • Who is most likely to experience Imposter Syndrome?

  • What causes Imposter Syndrome?

  • How do you overcome Imposter Syndrome?

Song featured on the podcast: "Zero Summer Mind" by Jessica Risker

Music Therapy Podcast Credits:

Music Therapy is hosted by Jessica Risker, produced by Sullivan Davis of Local Universe, and engineered by Joshua Wentz in Chicago.

Opening and closing music composed by Joshua Wentz.



0:00:01.2 Jessica Risker: Have you ever had Impostor Syndrome? We're gonna learn all about it and how you can overcome Impostor Syndrome on today's episode of Music Therapy.

[intro music]

Hey everybody, welcome to Music Therapy. I'm Jessica Risker, and I'm a musician based here in Chicago, Illinois, and I am also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

Music Therapy is a mental health podcast for musicians and music fans. Visit for previous episodes and upcoming events.

A little announcement: My band will be opening for The legendary Simon Joyner at the Hideout on July 19th. I am so excited for the show!

We are also having our next Group Session, which is a live taping of Music Therapy, our next Group Session at Cafe Mustache is on July 13th, and that is going to feature Chicago band Burr Oak. We'll have a conversation with the full band, we'll have some comedy, some video, and they will also give a special live performance. So come on out to Cafe Mustache on Wednesday evening, July 13th for the live taping of Music Therapy Podcast: Group Session!

Today, I am so excited to share this conversation with you. This is something that I think is going to resonate with a lot of you guys, it's all about Impostor Syndrome.

0:01:23.2 Jessica Risker: To learn more about Impostor Syndrome, I spoke with psychologist Dr. Lincoln Hill. Dr. Lincoln Hill did her dissertation on Imposter Syndrome and works with many clients on Imposter Syndrome, so stay tuned to learn all about Impostor Syndrome and what you can do to overcome your own feelings of Impostor Syndrome.

First, we're gonna have a little bit of music. Here's one of my songs. It's called Zero Summer Mind.

[music plays]

Okay, that was Zero Summer Mind by Jessica Risker. And all the cool background noises and swirls are by my bandmate Joshua Wentz, who also engineers the episodes of Music Therapy.

And now, let's turn to my conversation with Dr. Lincoln Hill on Impostor Syndrome.

Jessica Risker: Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Hill.

0:05:34.2 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I'm happy to be here, thanks for inviting me.

0:05:37.2 Jessica Risker: So I did a very informal poll on Instagram and asked people if they have ever experienced Imposter Syndrome, and I actually did get a lot of responses, and over 90% of people said that have.

It's not a scientific poll, but also seems like a lot of people are connecting with that, and I am so interested to learn a little bit more about what exactly Impostor Syndrome is, and maybe offering some advice or some coping strategies for people who do experience Impostor Syndrome.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely.

Jessica Risker: So maybe we can start out and... Just open it up with the question: What is Imposter Syndrome?

0:06:18.1 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I think that's a great question because I think a lot of times we hear the term, but we don't really have a sense of what exactly are we talking about. Right, so when the research apostasy dome is kinda defined as the imposter phenomenon, that's how it was originally pulling by the initial researchers and clinicians who discovered it, so they were basically looking at primarily a sample of middle class white women who were really high achieving...

They found these women, despite all these achievements that they had, had a really difficult time internalizing those successes, so it basically refers to people who believe that they're incompetent despite evidence to the contrary.

So they tend to discount their success, is they tend to associate their achievements with look, and they tend to view themselves as frauds, and they're afraid of being found out by people who are important to them, so that could be like their bosses, their colleagues, whoever is important to them, they're afraid of being found out as a fraud and imposter, if you will, so that's really what it refers to, but I think nowadays, people kind of associate with a lot of different terms like best...

0:07:19.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I don't know what I'm saying right now. Sorry, we'll take that little part out if you don't want... Okay, but I think it's important to understand what the origins of the term... With the origins of the term were the terminated basically. I think that's really important. Yeah.

0:07:35.3 Jessica Risker: Okay. Is impostor syndrome a clinical diagnosis?

0:07:41.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: No, it's not, but it's associated though, with a lot of other mental health outcomes, so it's been associated with negative psychological mental health... Things like self-monitoring, self-esteem, efficacy, stuff like that, but it's not necessarily a term that's in the DSM, it's not a clinical diagnosis.

0:07:58.4 Jessica Risker: Yeah, but it's something that we, I think so many people have heard of. I did an episode recently on toxic people, which is kind of the same thing, it's something... We've all heard this term, but we don't have this outfit-Al term, and that's part of the reason to explore this, so...

The definition you gave or the explanation of it, makes me think that it's kind of the secret feeling people have inside that they carry with them.

What might cause somebody to experience imposter syndrome?

0:08:32.6 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, great question. That's the thing that I'm always really interested in. So the initial researchers, they felt that some of it could be family, socialization, but also societal messages about your group, and initially they really thought Impostor Syndrome uniquely affected women compared to other gender groups.

Now, we have a lot of research that shows that other groups or genders experience it at the same levels, but the reasons for it might be different. So they suggested that maybe if you come from a family who says that You're amazing, no matter what you do, they just give you all the flattery all the time, you kind of have a hard sense of saying, Well, what exactly was my talent? What exactly is just people telling me that I'm good?

People might get themselves in that day, someone... We have an achievement and their family may tell them, Oh, you got that, 'cause you're so charming, you're so sweet, you're so pretty, or so, etcetera, anything outside of it coming from you, and that person may then go on to doubt their abilities in the future: Is that really 'cause I worked hard and I'm deserving of this?

0:09:26.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Or is it just because I'm pretty... Or because I'm charming, et cetera, et cetera. And they also thought that it could have something to do with the societal implications of success too, so for women in particular, a lot of times women are punished for being successful, especially in fields that are driven by men, so this kind of idea by a theme like this humility, like the type of lack of confidence, then I'm allowed to stay in these places, they wouldn't let me really say it, purify where your bravado as if I were really confident in myself, so it's almost like the self-protective thing. So there's a lot of things like that that happened, and there's also a lot of different things that kind of maintain the Impostor Syndrome for folks, which I can talk about too, if you don't mind.

0:10:07.4 Jessica Risker: Yeah, absolutely. Can I ask a question about something that you said there? You're saying someone might have gotten messaging like, Oh, you did that because you're so... You're so pretty, or you're so charming, and you kind of differentiated that with someone's like, Well, did I not get that because I worked hard, and it feels like there's a mismatch between the outer messaging that they're getting, which feels more maybe hollow or shallow, then it's not connecting with maybe someone's own sense of work or motivation or... Is that correct?

0:10:43.8 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely right. It makes you question it is like, well, is this actually me, or is it these other things that maybe didn't necessarily take work or effort, is it just that I'm a social person and that's why I get in these positions? Or is it that I'm actually hard working, and maybe this deserving of this because of the work I flippant people question about.

0:11:01.0 Jessica Risker: Okay, okay, gotcha. So let's see, now that I got lost in that thought. I almost forgot about what you wanted to continue.

0:11:08.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: No worries, I was gonna talk about at least the original study of what they said could be maintaining the Impostor Syndrome.

Jessica Risker: Yes, please.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, and I think all of this makes sense to folks like I think you can see this in ourselves or other people, but the first one was hard for... So this idea that if you're working hard, you're gonna try to disguise your confidence, but what typically happens is when we work really hard, we tend to get positive outcomes based off the bat.

So say you work really hard, 'cause you got a promotion... "I don't deserve this promotion", so you work your butt off to prove that you belong to here, and then you work so hard that you get another promotion, and "I hope they're not gonna find out about me, I just need to work hard to"... 'cause the sky is mind confidence and it keeps happening, and it becomes this fulfilling cycle of you continuing to have achievements that you can't internalize it, to analyze it, that seemed...

Jessica Risker: Sorry to interrupt you, but that seems like a big part of it. You can't internalize that and just how solidifying in there absolutely is.

0:12:04.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: No, it's untrained at all. Yeah, yeah.

0:12:09.0 Jessica Risker: Okay, so you might hear that messaging intellectually, but emotionally, it's not taking hold.

0:12:15.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely, It doesn't feel like it matches... It doesn't feel like it matches that...

Jessica Risker: Gotcha.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: And another thing too, in the original study that they said could be something that maintains the Impostors Syndrome is intellectual flattery, so this might be hiding your own beliefs or your opinion to just reflect what someone else, usually a person in authority, wants to hear from you.

So maybe you're in class and you know your professor has certain beliefs or like certain authors or etcetera, so you just kind of parrot what you think your professor wants to hear. Right, so they're telling you, Oh, that's great. You're brilliant, brilliant. What you're thinking... Well, that's not really my opinion, I'm not really brilliant, I'm just flattering you.

So that's something else that might maintain the sense of Impostor Syndrome in the person... Okay, yeah, yeah, another one too was, like I said earlier, with charm and social sensitivity, so this idea of trying to win approval from other people... This one was interesting to me. It's basically like if you... You have a respected authority figure, so again, maybe a mentor, maybe a boss, it could be anybody, right? They spend time with you, they know your work and they're telling you you're really great, you really want their approval, you want them to co-sign your abilities, but then once they do, you're like, maybe this person isn't actually the best person to do that, so then you kind of...

0:13:31.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, you remind whatever they're saying. Right, so I think we've all can imagine times where that's happened, they don't really know what they're talking about, and then you find somebody else who can be that mentor and kinda fill in that role and the cycle continues 'cause they're probably gonna validate you as well, but they don't know what they're talking about. Now they're not as trusted of a source for me...

0:13:49.7 Jessica Risker: Yeah, so we're talking about this core belief that I'm a fraud. And so everything's kind of rippling out from that - so even if someone's telling you you're not, you're going to view them through that a fraud filter as well, that you must not be correct because I know I'm a fraud, a absolutely keep spilling out set having all these external things that should maybe be validating you and telling you, I guess you got these grades, you've got this promotion, you did all of these things, they're like, No mere wrong. I'm a fraud, and I just need to make sure they never find out about that... Yeah, and I just need to make sure they never find out about that...

Can you speak to that piece? I need to keep that safe. Keep that secret.

0:14:34.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, that's the part that is really interesting, and that's when people trying to disguise what they believe is their incompetence, so they're like, Oh, I just need to work extra extra hard, and that way I'll be worthy of this thing, or this will be disguising the fact that I'm so incompetent. Right, let me take on a whole bunch of extra things so then I can prove this right, it's because I don't want people to know that I'm not supposed to be here or something to push myself to these limits to kind of prove that I'm not a problem. I still believe by inline, it's kind of, again, that mismatch that keeps happening between someone's internal experience and what other people are seeing as well. Yeah.

0:15:09.6 Jessica Risker: It feels like it's this just eternal chase.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yes.

Jessica Risker: I don't know what you think about this, but I was also thinking about Impostor Syndrome - could we think about it in terms of how there's a social component to it - how I'm being perceived - and I guess I was wondering if there's any link between Impostor Syndrome and anxiety or social anxiety in the way that others are perceiving me?

0:15:41.2 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Our connections are having studies that have shown connections between those two things. I don't know if there's necessarily been studies that show that anxiety is kind of the underlying thing that's happening, but it's actually tied to anxiety and other negative mental health outcomes too.

Jessica Risker: Gotcha.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, absolutely. What you're saying of the social perceptions, and then I think that's also a piece of what I looked at with my research and what I really focus on: Is there a certain people in the world who are treated like impostors... Despite having amazing resumes?

I like having all of these credentials, like having all these skills, they're treated impostors, maybe because of their race, their gender, age, a whole bunch of different things, right? So then you have to kind of look at that, 'cause it doesn't exist in a vacuum. What messages are people learning about themselves from these other people, what are people telling them about their work, what are people telling them about their value?

0:16:30.0 Jessica Risker: Yes. Okay, let's see. If someone's listening to this and they're thinking, Have I experienced this? Or I think that I have... Let's kind of zone in on what that experience might look like. What kinds of feelings might somebody have when they're experiencing imposter syndrome?

0:16:46.8 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, I think a lot of what you said earlier, some of that anxiety, some of that social anxiety, noticing just discounting yourself. If you get a compliment from somebody, do you immediately kind of rebuff it? That might be a sign. Do you wait to share positive news, are you waiting for something bad to happen with that... Things like that.

Yeah, in the end, there's actually the claims and poster phenomenon scale, which is kind of a test 20 item test, a kind of rating where you are when it comes to bassoon. Yeah, it's the clamps, impostor phenomenon scale. Okay, you can access it on... I believe, I think I have a link here. I can send you that too, if you would like to, and.

0:17:29.4 Jessica Risker: I will put that on the show notes page at for everybody listening, but... Yeah, that's great. Tell us a little about that.

0:17:37.2 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, so that is something that I have used in research, but also I've used it just kinda clinically with clients who think that they endorse high levels of the Impostor Syndrome. Right, so it's just a tritium test kind of as you asking how often these things happen for you, and like I said, I kind of get some the things around you just in your achievements. How do you handle compliments? Basically, I give them the sense of, how do you really feel about yourself?

Whenever these types of things happen, I think people are often really surprised at how they've scored when they tally their results, and it kinda gives you a kind of a range of what your score might be saying. And I think that's helpful for people to kinda get a sense of, Oh yeah, these are things that I've been dealing with for most of my life, or this is something and here I can point to specific examples of how this shows up for me.

0:18:22.7 Jessica Risker: Is there a difference between Impostor Syndrome and low self-esteem?

0:18:27.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yes, so with the research, yes, there is a difference, but they probably connected it right, it would make sense for someone to be a high imposter, that they also feel they'd have low self-team, but there is a difference between that. And that's why I like to get into the definition of Impostor Syndrome, like the shots are objectively competent, high-achieving people who have a difficult time internalizing their achievements, so it feels a bit different, and we're talking about self-esteem or self-concept... Right, and that's the part that I like to get really specific about... Yeah.

0:18:57.9 Jessica Risker: Gotcha, okay. So I had another question about what kinds of behaviors are associated with impostor syndrome - I don't know if you can speak to that or if that's also included on this scale you're referring to?

0:19:10.5 Dr. Lincoln Hill: A... Well, actually let me pull it up too, just so... Yeah, that's helpful for me to have... When I was doing my dissertation, I had all the impostor phenomenon test everywhere. So CSD.

0:19:25.1 Jessica Risker: You did your dissertation on imposter syndrome?

0:19:27.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I did. My dissertation was on Imposter Syndrome and black women college students to eat.

Jessica Risker: That's amazing.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, yeah, yeah, once I learned what the term was, I was like, Oh, I have to know more about this, I have to...

0:19:40.9 Jessica Risker: Can I ask if you ever felt Impostor Syndrome?

0:19:44.4 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely, and I think that's part of what they say in, especially psychology research, is that we just do near, so a lot of our therapists... To set that we've experienced 00%. Yeah, yeah, but I think for me, and I don't mind sharing that too with your audience, but I think for me, having language for it was really important in understanding that there's this whole study around it, there's a whole lot of research around it. Particularly not just looking at Imposter Phenomenon, but also looking at what it looks like for different races of people, like how it might impact you.

That was really important to me and it gave me a language, and I think language is really helpful for legitimizing folks experiences too.

Jessica Risker: Absolutely.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, but just to show you, I pulled up the scale in the text here, so the first question: "I've often succeeded on a test or task, even though I was afraid that I would not do well before"... "Before I undertook the task, I can give the impression that I'm more competent than I really am." I avoid evaluations of possible and how a dreamers evaluated me. So people praise me for something I've accomplished, I'm afraid I won't be able to live up to their expectations in the future.

0:20:51.4 Dr. Lincoln Hill: So those are the types of things that you're kind of looking at it. So that could absolutely be related to self-esteem or self-doubt or a whole bunch of other things, but it's kind of unique to this idea of there's these achievements and this high respond to them, right.

Jessica Risker: Why might somebody fear an evaluation?

Dr. Lincoln Hill: They might assume that people are gonna give them negative evaluations 'cause that's how they feel about themselves, that they might not be good enough that they're really an Impostor found out.

Jessica Risker: They're gonna be found out.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, yeah, that's an important part. Especially of significant people. So usually people giving you evaluations, my fear colleagues or class needs or a supervisor, right. To gonna be really afraid of being found out, so rather than being like, Yeah, this kind of fits in how I feel about myself and my work, he might just feel relief, like what didn't get found out today? We made a pass.

0:21:39.4 Jessica Risker: Can we dig into that for a moment? "Found out"... If someone's "found out" what are they... That is very vulnerable. It's very exposing, I imagine that feeling. What is that feeling? "I've been found out." What have you seen?

0:21:50.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah. To me, it's like the sense of, I'm being exposed, like you maybe see me how I see me, you know that I'm not really worthy of all this stuff, you know that I'm really... Really not great at this, right?

Now, I'm being found out, and I think it's a sense of shame that people feel when it comes to the sense of being found out as being a fraud. Right, but then again, the whole point with the Impostor Syndrome is you continue to be high achieving, so no one's really probably viewing you that way, but the stakes got higher and higher for you, like the higher I get, the more they're gonna find out I'm a fraud, I'm an Imposter. That's not necessarily true. But just how you feel about yourself.

0:22:27.0 Jessica Risker: Yeah, that was feelings. I'm feeling really exposed really, in the shame feeling, I think is important there too, at being part of the root of this feeling...

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely, absolutely.

Jessica Risker: That shame, if we can dig a little deeper... What do you think that shame feeling is coming from?

0:22:50.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, I think that's really coming from the internal belief the person has, right, like the sense there's something wrong with me, or something bad about me, and I can't let people know about that, or else all this stuff is gonna go away. And that's how I feel about myself, so I'm gonna keep up when I believe is a side when really it probably is just high achievement working really hard, right, so that I can continue to hide this part of me that feels so ugly and so bad.

0:23:16.1 Jessica Risker: There it is, yeah. Okay, okay, well, I think we've... I feel like we've dug into kind of what this is...

So let's move on to the second part of our conversation. There's three parts. So the second part is, how do you deal with Imposter Syndrome? What can someone do if they're having these feelings?

0:23:41.5 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, I think the first part of it is even just being curious about it, being curious about... At least for me as a clinician, I'm always curious about: Are there moments when this is activated and it's really heightened versus moments where it's not?

Right, and even with my dissertation researchers really curious about that, right, like what are these experiences, how do we contextualize a little bit and how do we look into that? So rather than it being just a, you problem, there's something wrong with me, versus how do we understand the context of this?

Is it when you're in environments where you're the only woman, the only black person, only... Whatever? Are those moments where it's heightened, is that when you're around people who might seem really judgmental or they might seem like they're shaming you? Are those moments where it's Tien for you, and what are the moments where you feel more firms... When you don't feel like an impostor, when you do feel like you're accepted, how do we get a hold of those and understand it so that we Kapost-ER those strengths and also understand the situations that might leave you a little more susceptible to it?

0:24:40.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: And the approach I always take is thinking about environmental impacts as well: What's your environment doing to contribute to this or not contribute to it? And then really thinking about how you respond whenever the beliefs happen for you, if you're filling shames do hide oftentimes, and we're filling machine, we do have... It would be like to come to the light.

I think that's one of the benefits of Imposter Syndrome being talked about so much on social media and pop culture. 'cause you have a lot of people saying, Oh my gosh, I have felt the same way that Michelle Obama has felt. I have felt the same way that this famous actress has felt.

When people feel less alone and then people are really able to contextualize it a little bit more, where it's not just a "me" problem, but maybe it's a social problem and there are systems in place that make certain people feel like they're less belonging than other people... So those are the first things I think that when I think about reflection.

Another approach I take with my clients is really working on self-compassion, right. So to me, it isn't even just this idea of like, I am valuable because I have achieved X, Y or Z. It's like how do we get to the point where you're able to find value in yourself, aside from that, and then how do you find value in yourself when you fail, 'cause we're all gonna fail at it.

0:25:55.0 Dr. Lincoln Hill: To me, that is the ultimate goal: I can love myself. I can have compassion for myself during the highs, but also my lows too, is a lot of the work I look at. So self-compassion, Dr. Christine has amazing resources online for free on your website, I don't know if you're familiar with a website...

0:26:12.9 Jessica Risker: I am not that. I will also put that in show notes... Awesome.

0:26:16.4 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I can do a list of some of the resources I have, but her website is self-compassion dot-org, there's a self-compassion test you can take on our website, there's a whole bunch of mindfulness activities and psycho-educational resources to Headspace officers, a course on the self-esteem, and we're saying those are separate things, but it could be related.

I imagine bolstering your self-esteem could also help you when it comes to those high impostor moments, and also the Nap Ministry, there's a lot of work around... I don't know if you heard of the Nap Ministry. It's basically kind of how it sounds, just talking about risk, this anti-capitalist framework for thinking about our health and our wellness, and I think that's helpful too, 'cause so much of the Imposter Syndrome to me is tied to capitalism and this idea of achieving, achieving, achieving... We can achieve our way out of shame, achieve our way into value. And we find that that's not really the case, right? So those are a lot of the resources that I share with people.

As far as books to radical acceptance, everything by Brene Brown, very much enjoy her work, especially around imperfection and shaman resilience.

0:27:26.1 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, those are a lot of the ways that I kind of approach it with people.

0:27:29.3 Jessica Risker: Amazing, I will put links to all of those things in the show notes at

What are the best, in your opinion, modalities of therapy to help manage and understand impostor syndrome?

0:27:44.0 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, I think that's a great question. It depends, right? I think that CBT, which isn't how I practice, this relational cultural therapist, so I focus a lot on being process-oriented helps a lot of identity relationships, but even CBT, the fact that you can maybe challenge in some of these thoughts when they come on and look at the evidence for them arise, these things are mismatched, what we do with that, look at your cognitive distortions.

But I think really any approach that really gets you into challenging those beliefs that you have, but also allowing a little bit flexibility for you to maybe accept different truths about yourself, but your value maybe... Is it in all these other things? I think that's helpful.

0:28:25.5 Jessica Risker: Yeah. Are you familiar with Byron, Katie? It's She's got a set of four questions that help you challenge beliefs and they're really powerful, I think... Anyway, you might be interested in that, yeah. Do you know what the questions are?

So you identify a thought, so maybe... "I'm bad at my job." And then the first question is, do you know that that's true? And then so we might say yes or no, and then the same question is, can you absolutely 100% in the grand scheme of the universe know that that's true, and that's the question that kind of makes people maybe open like... Well, maybe not, maybe not. Yeah, the third question is, What do you think or do when you believe that thought? , maybe I hide this or that, or I go out of my way to whatever you might fill in the blank with that, and then the fourth question is, who would you be without that thought... I love that. And then you kind of open to experiencing life without the thought, and it could be really just a short...

0:29:25.5 Jessica Risker: Not a short cut, exactly, but a way to explore kind of these thoughts that we're talking about.

Okay, is there anything else that... Let me ask you this, actually. If you have a friend - this podcast is geared towards musicians and music fans - so maybe you have a band-mate or maybe you have a friend who's a musician or artist friend or something like that. If you have a friend who's struggling with Imposter Syndrome, what could a friend do to help somebody?

0:29:55.1 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Oh, I love that question on that, right. I think for me, I would imagine for most people, it's easier to affirm other people, it's easier to support other people, so I think that's where community really comes into play, so in be a good community member, being a good support...

Right, so that may be validating your friend, maybe complimenting them on things other than their external achievements, reminding them of their internal value just by existing, reminding them of those things and just maybe being a safe space.

I think a lot of times too with Impostor Syndrome, especially you know that a person works super hard and you're like, You are not an Impostor, you're incredible. I believe so many positive things about you... It can be easy to maybe dismiss their feelings, to dismiss what they're saying. So just be a listening ear and hold the fact that maybe they feel this way about them, and I can also hold that I feel differently about you and I can hold both of those things together. They don't have to constantly be in attention, and I think that's helpful for people to feel like they can openly talk about this without being shut down.

0:30:54.1 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I see that a lot of clients to talk about Impostor Syndrome, 'cause they feel like they can't talk to certain people about it, they'll just basically tell them to shut up... That's not true. And that isn't always helpful.

0:31:06.7 Jessica Risker: Yeah, yeah. I think it's really... I'm really struck by this... People placing this sense of worth on what they do, their accomplishments...

In fact, what we're talking about is just as a human being, a feeling of, I'm not worthy or I'm not good enough, and that's heartbreaking, but I think you're talking about don't just say, Well, you played this big show that your proof... But just saying, even if you didn't play a show, I love you just as you are...

It seems like that's what I think is probably across the board, we're all... Releases.

This is the third section, if you have just a couple more minutes, for some questions from listeners? I asked listeners for some questions to ask you, they were excited that I was gonna talk to you, so...

Someone asked, Does attachment trauma and childhood cause Impostor Syndrome in adults?

0:32:11.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: That's a good question. I like to stay away from causation, right? Yeah, it could be some relation to that for different people, right. So sometimes with my work and therapy, I like to ask people about, when did you first feel this way, when did you first learn this? And sometimes you get to attachment trauma to get to those early caregiver relationships, or they were only seeing positively when they were performing well. Right, and those things can kind of impact how you understand the Impostor Syndrome in your life now, or this idea that you gotta perform your way to love, performing the value, right? So probably you might depend on the person though, but I think with therapy, you can really kind of explore those core beliefs and where the original...

0:32:54.2 Jessica Risker: I can also see too, many musicians, so much of their identity or artists is in their art, and a lot of that gets tied into our people seeing "me" - meaning, my art - Are people seeing what I do, this is so important to me. Are they seeing this? Am I getting the recognition? And if not, what does that say about me? Absolutely, so again, this kind of gap between who you are is kind of separating that from what you do.

0:33:22.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely. Think about what you're saying with art, to whether you're a musician or any other art form. So much of it is subjective, right? It's something that may feel great to you, other people may not like it, and I imagine that impacts the experience in such a unique and different way, kind of having to balance what works for me versus what works for other people, and how is that tied to value, and those are questions that you might have to tease apart to really understand...

0:33:47.7 Jessica Risker: Absolutely. Putting your own artwork out there so vulnerable, you've said, "This is my thing and I've made it. What do you think?" That's a big, big thing to share.

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, I think that that's a great point.

Jessica Risker: Another question. There's two more questions here. It is "Why does it seem to be more common... " And we can ask whether this is true, you spoke a little bit to this, "why does it seem to be more common among women, people of color and first or second generation immigrants?"

0:34:15.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I think for me in the research, and I've looked at... 'cause I've been having those similar questions, it's like some of the research will say that there aren't gender differences, and it might say that there are some racial differences too... When we look at racial method groups.

But the thing that I'm always interested in is why are people endorsing this, where is this coming from? And what's the context looking at if you were a first gen college student and you were in a predominantly white school and you're like, I have no background for this? There's gonna be a lot of messages that are gonna be implicit and explicit telling you that you don't belong here, right? So then of course, you might internalize that as I don't belong there, I'm an imposter, there's nobody who looks like me on the sport, there's nobody looks like me in this job... Right, that's one way.

And I think with race, with gender, it's kind of the same exact thing, and like I said earlier, one of the things that the initial researcher said about the maintenance for the Impostor Syndrome, the societal rejection, retford women who were trying to break that glass ceiling, this idea of, Well, I can't be a confident woman, the Wiman might be in this position, I've gotta kinda be a little bit more humble, right, 'cause it's gonna seem really fattening and society might reject me, it might take up too much space. And I think black women, especially experience that. I think people who are from all types of minorities backgrounds experience that. So it's the sense of like, I'm allowed to be here, but I'm not allowed to take up space and feel confident in in a way that could be something that's happening to Kanter question is.

Jessica Risker: I thought this was an interesting question: What purpose does Impostor Syndrome serve?

0:35:48.9 Dr. Lincoln Hill: I think kind of like what they said with the maintenance factors, like that hard work, it's like, Oh, I didn't deserve this, I'm gonna work really hard to prove it, it's like... He ended up being really, really high achieving through this, it's like... It keeps you going. So I wonder for some people, if you kind of internalize this belief, but, yeah, I am deserving a lot of my successes, maybe you're afraid you're not gonna work as hard anymore... Right, maybe there's something motivating about feeling like an imposter and that you have to constantly prove something to yourself.

Right, so that could be a motivation for it, like I said, the desire to avoid rejection, that could be a way for... It's almost like self-deprecating humor. Sometimes you will do it. Yeah, it allows you to kinda get close to it, but not too far, it allows you to feel safe in a way, so maybe that's part of why it's maintained in a protective way for people...

0:36:42.7 Jessica Risker: Or kind of a way of saying, I'm self-aware. I don't want you to think that I'm not... Okay.

0:36:47.3 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Sure, absolutely. Yeah, that was a good question. Absolutely.

0:36:51.2 Jessica Risker: This has been so great. Thank you so much for your day.

0:36:55.7 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Yeah, this has been fun. I love talking about Impostor stuff.

0:37:00.1 Jessica Risker: I know it's gonna be really helpful. If somebody wanted to contact you or maybe work with you, I know you're pretty busy, but where can people find you and learn more about you and your work?

0:37:12.2 Dr. Lincoln Hill: Absolutely. So feel free to come to my website, T Just say a nice... Also, you can fill three funnels on or can you find me? I think that's the best way. Probably, I'm on therapy for black girls as well. If you're looking to start therapy, just look up my name, Dr. Lincoln Hill. I have a medium page where I usually class you spend a lot of time writing about Impostor Syndrome and other kind of issues, really is a health and wellness too. So again, to search for me under Lincoln Hill on medium too.

0:37:44.7 Jessica Risker: Great, and again, I will put links to all of this on the show notes for our conversation at

Thank you so, so much for your time, I really appreciate it!

Dr. Lincoln Hill: Thanks for having me.

Jessica Risker: Okay, that was such a great conversation. I wanna thank Dr. Hill for her time today. As I said in our conversation, please visit for show notes where I will put links to all of the amazing resources that we talked about today.

I hope that you guys have been doing well and enjoying your summers. I'm gonna take a break next week for the 4th of July week, a little vacation, but we'll be back the following week.

Come on out to Cafe Mustache on July 13 for a Group Session taping with Burr Oak, and of course, get your tickets for our Hideout show where my band will be opening for Simon Joyner.

Music Therapy is hosted by Jessica Risker, produced by Sullivan Davis of Local Universe and engineered by Joshua Wentz in Chicago. We'll see you in a couple of weeks! 

Peace and love til I see you again.

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