Ever had those feelings when stepping into a new space like you really shouldn’t be there?
Whether relating to a promotion at work, launching a new creative venture, or looking around at a new peer group and you’re sat there nervously thinking “I’m a fraud. Everyone else is levels above me. I’m blagging it and it’s only a matter of time before I get found out!”
Sure. It’s ultimately where you WANT to be. But the feelings of dread and self-doubt that you experience prevent you from truly showing up and owning where you’re at.
This, my friends, is known as the oh-so-common “imposter syndrome”, and it’s commonly defined as “feelings of inadequacy despite evidence of previous success”.
So, even if you’ve got ample proof to say that you’re good enough to be somewhere, those around you believe in you, and you’ve got no evidence to the contrary to suggest that you’re out of your depth, you experience a persistent fear that you’re going to be “found out” or discovered as a fraud, in spite of all your successes.
Table of Contents
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
What imposter syndrome feels like?
The difference Between Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubt
But What triggers imposter syndrome?
How can we deal with imposter syndrome?
What Imposter Syndrome Feels Like?
Bloody horrible. I can tell you that much for nothing. And being real with you, it’s a feeling that’s showed up many times in my life. From launching my Youtube channel, to being onstage with TRC at some of the UK’s biggest festivals, and sometimes even simply having dinner with different groups of people.
Even though they were all things I wanted to be doing to take my life to the next level, there was still a weird feeling of unease that I just couldn’t seem to shake.
And it’s something I know that’s definitely slowed my progress in life and business. Like, I’d love to be able to just walk into any room or situation, feel confident and fully own it – and I know that’s unrealistic. But as I said in last week’s post… we can’t change something until we fully face it, so if you feel like you struggle with imposter syndrome and you know how much it’s holding you back, here are a couple of things for you to consider:
Imposter syndrome is WAY more common than you think…
I know sometimes it might feel like you’re the only one suffering it, but in reality, it’s something that’s experienced by so many people.
According to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioural Science, over 80% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career.
Even the famous, high achievers we might aspire to be like at some point or another have experienced feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.
People like Maya Angelou, Michael Jordan, and Mike Tyson all report on feeling like frauds just waiting to be found out. But instead of letting it derail them, they reframed it and used it as fuel to keep levelling up so that they could never be ‘exposed’, which meant they stayed on their A-game.
If you’re feeling it, it’s actually a sign you’re growing…
If we stay where we are and never strive for more, we stagnate. And the truth is, every level you aspire to reach will require a different version of you.
So, even though it might be uncomfortable, one of the keys to getting past imposter syndrome is to lean in and remind yourself of all that’s waiting for you on the other side of those feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty.
Ask yourself: “If I lean in, how different will life feel and look once I’ve gotten past it?”
Yes, it’ll be a stretch. But if you’re serious about levelling yourself up personally and professionally, it’s exactly what you need to be feeling at this moment in time.
And when you have negative thoughts about your abilities and qualifications, pause for a moment and ask yourself whether these feelings are in fact accurate. Chances are they’re not.
Try to put your thoughts in perspective. And make it a point to focus on your successes, think about your wins and let them resonate emotionally.
How can we deal with imposter syndrome?
I know everybody’s different. And if your imposter syndrome really is chronic, you probably feel that no amount of ‘hacks’, or self-help mindset techniques will make a difference. But some things that have helped me better manage mine recently – and as a real-world example, get this blog and Youtube channel out of my head and into the world are as follows:
Stop comparing your day 1 to someone else day 637
I know that might be hard, but if you’ve just entered a new space – maybe you’ve been recently promoted, or you’ve just launched a new project into the world, how can you ever expect to be as good as some of your contemporaries that have been in the game for two, three or five years!?
Social media can make us feel like everyone is an overnight success, but in reality, we haven’t seen all the failures, external factors and struggles that it’s taken to get there.
We need to learn to show a little self-compassion, appreciate where we are and understand that confidence will come with consistency and competence (which you’ve got in abundance by the way).
And the more consistency and competence you have, the more evidence you’ll be building that you are indeed worthy of all the good stuff coming your way.
Get better at taking ‘imperfect action’
It’s understandable that we want to have all our ducks in a row and have everything looking polished and professional before we put something – or indeed ourselves – out into the world. But if we’re always waiting for perfect conditions, we’ll be waiting a hell of a long time.
The more comfortable we can get with “good enough”, the quicker we’ll be on our way to improved levels of competence and confidence.
Plus, this relates to what I was talking about last week with the whole procrastination thing. Give yourself permission to get going before you’re ready, and enjoy the process of growth and learning that comes from showing up, making mistakes and failing in public. (But please remember, there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback!)
Lean in and embrace the discomfort
Accepting that feelings such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome and a whole heap of other mental gremlins will be coming along for the ride is simply part of the process of levelling yourself up.
I eluded to this earlier, but the more we can embrace those feelings of uncertainty, and step into the areas of stretch that can aid our growth, the better.
Those feelings might not be going anywhere for a while. So, instead of beating yourself up for not being able to shake them, welcome them on board for the next phase of your journey and understand they’re coming along with you because you’re leaning into your greatness.
Acknowledge your achievements
Yes, you’re aiming for bigger and better. And that’s great. But it’s also important to celebrate your existing successes, no matter how small they may seem. This’ll help you to see that you are indeed capable of accomplishing great things.
It’s also worth remembering that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. And the more you’re able to focus on your strengths, the more confident you’ll feel in yourself and your abilities to push on.
Be patient with yourself
Remember that these feelings are normal, and that it’ll take time to overcome them. Learn to be patient with yourself, stay excited for the future and keep working towards your goals.
If your imposter syndrome is really bad, and you just can’t seem to move forward no matter what, I’d always recommend seeing if working with a qualified mental health or talking therapy specialist could make a difference – think CBT practitioner, accredited coach/therapist etc (although watch out for charlatans – there are a lot of them out there!)
Having a safe space to talk through your situation with a professional who has the skillset to support you could prove invaluable – as it has done for me!
What about you?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this one. Leave a comment in the box below with any insights you’ve had regarding imposter syndrome – and indeed some ways in which you manage it to continue to elevate yourself personally or professionally.
If you fancy diving deeper into this subject, you can watch the video below on my Youtube channel where I share a couple more thoughts.
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Cheers for reading.
Have a good week and I’ll catch you next time.
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