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 according to one major study, 70% of us suffer from it.
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.
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