Learning To Overcome Imposter Syndrome
The words imposter syndrome have been bouncing out at me from so many places lately – it seems just about everyone I come into contact with either has or still is experiencing it on a regular basis.
If memory serves, I’ve always brought a hefty amount of imposter syndrome baggage along on the journey of life.
But never more so since I entered the blogging world. Which is odd when you think that building something for yourself, by yourself and out of nothing should do wonders for your self-confidence!
Digging deeper that that, where does it all begin? What makes the difference between a quietly confident woman and one who, if she’s not careful, can end up constantly tripping over her own self-doubt.
Sometimes, the people that cause our self-doubt
are those closest to us & the ones that we trusted implicitly…
And I say woman because it’s other women who I hear talk about this the most.
At various points in life, pretty much all of us will encounter people who make us feel our opinion isn’t valid, an idea we’ve had isn’t worth the time of day or worse still, ridicule us in front of others.
Sometimes the people that do this are those close to us and who we trusted implicitly.
Sometimes the put-down comes in the form of a quick, stinging verbal slap that makes you recoil and run in the opposite direction.
Worse still it can be a subtle, underhanded campaign designed to whittle away your self-confidence over a longer period of time. Dangerous that one… and tougher to recover from.
Regardless of where it comes from and how deep-seated it runs, imposter syndrome will tie you up in knots if you let it.
So whilst I still find myself dealing with it on a regular basis, for the last year or so I’ve vowed to stop letting it win.
Stand your ground, stare it down… and then just banish it.
Recognise it for what it is – simply a voice given to a niggle of self-doubt that crept in a long time ago. It was created by you and can be controlled by you.
It’s only you with the doubt – everyone else has total faith in your abilities and thinks you’re extremely capable of what they’re asking of you. Otherwise they wouldn’t be asking it of you in the first place.
I find that when I remind myself I am my biggest doubter, I quickly realise how pointless that seems.
And when it comes around the next time, just rinse and repeat.
What’s the worst that can happen?
You fail that’s what. And then you get back up and start again. Meanwhile you’ve gained some invaluable experience that one day, I pretty much guarantee you’ll draw upon.
And nine times out of ten, you won’t fail anyway.
When I was asked to speak on the blogging panel at Big Small Business, I quickly told myself I was going to be rubbish and fall spectacularly on my arse… in front of a hundred plus people.
Well guess what. I didn’t. I got up there and gave it my best. I don’t think I came across as well as some of the other speakers that day but I did beat down my imposter syndrome and with some measure of success.
Next time, instead of telling myself how useless and worthless I am, I’ll be aiming for something a little more positive. Such as a pat on the back for being valued enough to be asked to take part in something so amazing in the first place.
More Affirmation, Less Comparison
You find yourself on your chosen path, gradual journey or fast track trajectory for a reason. A good reason.
You came up with an idea, you nurtured it and you have a whole lot of hopes and dreams tied up with it.
So why are you self-sabotaging when instead you could be investing time and energy into celebrating your past successes and looking to future opportunities? For you, read I by the way!
I find that when I spend time re-affirming why I do what I do, how much I love it and exploring different ways to nurture & grow what I’ve created, the negativity dissipates. And nine times out of ten, I manage to go on to achieve a whole lot more than I thought I could.
And if you find yourself caught up in the comparison trap on a regular basis – stop it right now. It really is that simple.
Comparing yourself to others is the biggest, positivity sapping beast that ever walked the earth! There literally is no point and nothing to be gained. Except misery and precious time wasted!
WEARING: Sunglasses – After Hours by Quay Australia – Available from the U.S. site here | Dress – River Island (sold out but more options below) | Watch – Michael Kors | Nails – Essie in Licorice | Sandals – Birkenstock
Find a cheer leader
Find someone you can turn to to actually voice your inner fears and worries when imposter syndrome strikes. Someone who you can trust implicitly, who knows you and who won’t judge or belittle your dreams. Tall order huh?
Sometimes it helps for your cheer leader to be removed from the very thing that causes imposter syndrome to strike. That way they can be impartial to the subject matter which means they’re able to see your doubts and fears in a much clearer light.
To that I would add, when it comes to life in general, it helps if you surround yourself with people that lift you up rather than constantly drain your energy.
You can’t eliminate the “drains” from your life but when it comes to conversation, keep it light and don’t be tempted to reveal the deeper stuff. There is simply nothing to be gained there.
Whose opinion really matters?
The point above leads me nicely onto… do you really care what other people think? Or to put it more succinctly, whose opinions do you really care about?
Know that you can’t please all the people all the time and for all those that love what you do, there will always be one or two who won’t. And who sometimes can’t wait to tell you why!
For me, acceptance of this is half the battle when it comes to dealing with imposter syndrome.
It’s not about people pleasing, it’s about doing your very best work as often as possible.
Think about what you’ll lose
If I’m having an inner battle about whether I’m capable of something, it really helps to draw on past near misses.
Back in the day (WAY back in the 2009 day!), I was invited to my first press day…and it was at Net-A-Porter!
My first reaction to Mr OS was “Hey look at this email! But I can’t go to that – I mean it’s Net-A-Porter… aka The Mothership!”
His response was basically in the vein of “Don’t be ridiculous, you’ve been invited, they want you to go… so get your butt on that early train to London!”
If I’d given in to the nagging doubts, I can’t even begin to list the number of opportunities I would have missed that all, over time, arose as a result of attending that day.
And when I reflect back at similar things over the blogging years, that same realisation jumps out at me again and again.
And that’s about the size of it!
Phew… are you still with me? This one feels like it’s turned out to be a bit of an essay but one worth exploring I hope.
If you ask any woman you know whether she’s had to face down thoughts like these, I pretty much guarantee she’ll say yes.
So I’d love to hear your thoughts on learning to overcome imposter syndrome and any tried and tested strategies that have helped – feel free to leave a comment below.
As always, I’ve linked to a few related articles that might be useful.
And to finish on a lighter, style related note, there’s a white cotton dress selection to see out these last days of summer!
A post by Elgin Avenue contributor Chelsea Becker on defining your squad criteria…and not in a Taylor Swift 4th July party way either! Its more about knowing which relationships are valuable and worthy of your energy.
This article over at Sheerluxe brought to my attention by Monica in her Croissant Reading newsletter is really insightful with quotes from amazing women you would never have had pegged as suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
When Lauren from This Renegade Love writes anything, I always read it. And she wrote here about imposter syndrome too.
more white cotton dresses for the last days of summer