5 Tips for Fighting Imposter Syndrome
By Becky Mollenkamp, PCC
I’ve earned two degrees, have 20 years of professional experience, and have been a successful entrepreneur for 12 years … and some days I’m certain it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds out I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. Soon enough, I’ll be called out for the fraud I am.
Sound familiar? It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and 75% of female executives across industries have experienced it in their careers.
Do you think 7 out of 10 people you meet are fakers and frauds? Of course not. It’s just not possible. That means most of us must be wrong and, in fact, are qualified, competent, skilled, talented, and amazing. So why can’t we get it through our thick skulls?!
While I’ll never claim to have all the answers, I have figured out a few ways to fight Imposter Syndrome when it rears its ugly head. Here are my five best tips for keeping it from crippling you and holding you back from success.
Give it a Name
Completely eliminating Imposter Syndrome just isn’t realistic for most of us. Instead, the solution is to find ways to manage it. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s approach, which she shares in “Big Magic.” She gives that inner critic a name and talks to her as if she’s a completely separate person.
Rather than scold that voice, however, she treats it as a friend who’s trying to protect her. Next time you get those icky fraudy feelings, try saying something like this: “Thanks, babe, for trying to help me avoid disappointment/hurt/embarrassment, but I don’t need protection today. I got this.”
Create a Mantra
Another approach? Have a mantra at your ready for days when Imposter Syndrome shows up. Choose a simple line celebrating your awesomeness, and repeat it aloud (or silently, if you must) until that nasty voice inside your head shuts up.
Here are a few mantras you can try (or come up with one that’s uniquely yours):
- Great things never come from comfort zones
- I’m not afraid to be great
- I am open to new adventures
- Failure is not fatal
- I’m meant to be here
- I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me (sorry, I had to!)
For some of us, it may seem a little egocentric (or perhaps a bit hokey) to keep a running list of achievements, but it can be a powerful tool for those days when self-doubt puts you in a chokehold. Every time you do something well or receive a compliment, write it down. Go back and read those highlights every time you begin to question your abilities, and you may realize you can do whatever is scaring you.
Ask for Support
If you’re having trouble snapping yourself out of fraudy feelings, ask for help. During some of my worst bouts with Imposter Syndrome, I’ve asked for support.
One time when feeling particularly low, I posted this question on my Facebook wall: “What do I do well?” The responses I received from close friends and others I barely knew were illuminating and inspiring. At other times I’ve mentioned my battle with Imposter Syndrome in Facebook groups for entrepreneurs. Hearing “me too” from so many other biz owners immediately helped me feel better. Finally, my mastermind group routinely helps me remember my strengths.
Be Ok With “Good Enough”
One of the biggest reasons for Imposter Syndrome is when we get too caught up on perfection. No one and nothing is flawless, so when you measure yourself and your successes against that impossible expectation, of course you end up feeling like a failure and a fraud.
While it may be easier said than done for us Type As, it’s so helpful if you can slowly learn to be okay with “good enough.” This starts by admitting perfection isn’t possible, recognizing when you have unrealistic expectations, and then reframing your thoughts and language from “perfection” to “acceptable”.
This can be a long process that requires practice to perfect (that’s a joke, of course). Seriously, it will take time to change a lifelong fixation on perfection, and you can expect setbacks as you work on it, but making the shift to “good enough” can be completely life-changing and life-saving.
This was great and much needed! I think I deal with this daily too but I loved the part about treating it like a person and talking down the fear.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Annalisa. You’re a rock star — never that your inner mean girl convince you otherwise!
This was just what I needed today! Too often I feel slightly overwhelmed and unsure of myself or my capabilities – especially when it comes to running my businesses. I love all of these tips and will be sharing them with my fellow ‘imposters’, thank you!
I really like the “I’m not afraid to be great” affirmation! I am going to write that one down for later!
Thank you so much for reading. I am glad it’s helpful. And you are a boss, never forget it!
Do it, Sahara! And use it all the time. Because you are great!
So much great advice Becky! I love the idea of talking to your inner critic positively! I’m going to try that from now on.
Thanks for reading, Naomi! I’m glad you found it helpful. And remember–you are awesome!
This was very helpful, and timely! I’m just starting up in the blogging world, and I often catch myself thinking, ‘what do I really have to offer?’. You’re right though, we all have unique talents to share with the world. Thanks for sharing your tips!
So glad it helped, Christine! And you have a lot to offer!!!
I have a hunch that most entrepreneurs deal with this on daily basis. Make that nightly, actually, because the fear usually hits at 2:00 a.m.! Great post, and thanks for writing it.
Great post, Becky.
Haha, so true about the late night freakouts, Rachel! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Oh wow! Thank you for sharing. I have totally gone through this but I hope to be better prepared the next time!
Yes! This feeling can be so debilitating. Thanks for the tips. Happy Blog Love Wednesday!
Thanks for reading!
Thanks, Christine! Next time it hits, just remember: You are awesome!
Awww! yes!!! totally fall into this…working on an e-book right now and I constantly have that feeling of “i’m not good enough!, it’s been done! and who am i to do this?!” thanks for this…going to try some of these for sure!
You ARE good enough! Keep it up and thanks for reading…
Thanks Becky, I am taking away, self talk, telling myself, I am meant to be here, I am open to new adventures.