4 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Get Out of Your Own Way
Say it with me: You deserve success, confidence, and happiness.
Are you standing in the way of your own success? Sometimes, our own thoughts can be the most limiting roadblock to our progress.
There is one reason why imposter syndrome is so prevalent with entrepreneurs across the board of success. We look back at all the things we’ve accomplished, only to start feeling like we don’t deserve the accolades, money, fame, or attention we’ve earned. We start to believe what we’ve done isn’t really special after all. We start to feel that anyone could have done those things and maybe it was all just luck...
That’s the type of thinking that can sabotage your future. When you’re an entrepreneur, you need to own your decisions, contributions, and skills so that you can keep growing and thriving.
In case you missed it, my last newsletter post covered the definition of imposter syndrome and signs you can look for to see if and how it affects you. If you missed it click here to get caught up to speed.
If those signs I shared checked a lot of boxes for you, don’t worry! We can work on that. It’s time to start pushing feelings of fraud out of the picture so you can keep moving forward.
Here’s what the experts have to say about conquering imposter syndrome:
Confront Your Feelings
If you’re feeling like a fraud, you probably feel that you don’t want to bring it to anyone’s attention. What if they agree with you? What if you really are a fraud?
Snap out of that mindset! The reality is likely much different. The only one who thinks you’re not worthy is you. Oftentimes the people around us aren’t surprised when we achieve great things. Your perception of you is actually, time and again, a few steps behind everyone else's positive perception of you and your progress.
Imposter syndrome Institute Co-Founder Valerie Young says that breaking the silence is the first step in the right direction. Go ahead and say out loud that you’re feeling the pressure of imposter syndrome. Put it out into the universe and feel a weight lifting off your chest. Simply knowing there’s a name for what you’re feeling and that it’s a very real thing can be a freeing experience. You now know what you’re facing, you’ve confronted it, and from there, you can begin to move forward.
Revisit Positive Experiences and Feedback
Maybe you just landed your first big client. Perhaps a colleague or competitor tossed you a compliment, one that you don’t think you really deserved. If you have imposter syndrome, you might believe that you haven’t done anything special. Maybe it seemed too easy or not original enough of an idea so it’s not worth much.
When we start downplaying our accomplishments, it’s easy to forget just how much we had to do to reach our current point.
Educator and imposter syndrome expert Elizabeth Cox shares in her TED talk that we need to allow ourselves to truly appreciate any and all accomplishments and compliments, regardless of whether we think we deserve them.
To do this, she suggests that we habitually collect feedback and revisit it when we start feeling like a fraud. Review your accomplishments and think about all the moments, tasks, and activities that led to each one. Appreciate those moments and allow yourself to feel proud of yourself for those milestones reached. Not only can this soothe your anxiety about imposter syndrome, but it also gives you concrete proof of just how responsible you are for what you’ve accomplished.
Separate Fraud From Fear
One important differentiation Young says we need to make is whether we’re really feeling fraudulent in our own minds or if we’re just scared of how others might perceive us.
Authentic feelings of fraud come with stealing someone else’s research or ideas and passing them off as your own. It’s blatantly lying about your accomplishments, especially if you have no proof to support them. It’s being the man behind the curtain controlling the talking head behind smoke and mirrors. If you’re not doing any of these things, you’re not a fraud. If we can then conclude your accomplishments aren’t fraudulent, then your imposter syndrome has more to do with how you think others see you or your inability to truly see yourself.
One example Young shares is whether you fit in with the entrepreneurs around you. Maybe you’re the only woman among men or a person of color against a majority. When you don’t look like the successful people around you, it’s easy to give in to feelings of fraud. These feelings are likely driven by a fear of other people thinking you might not belong there.
Young says these are normal responses to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes. While you may be unable to change these dynamics, you can recognize them for what they are and accept that success wears many faces.
Remember that how others perceive you can not be controlled, only you can have control over how you perceive yourself.
Have Open Conversations About Imposter Syndrome
Both Cox and Young encourage anyone who is feeling like an imposter to be open about their feelings. Know you’re not alone and that many successful people experience the same thing. Sharing your feelings may help you build more confidence than you can build by yourself.
When we talk about our experiences with imposter syndrome, it sucks the energy out of these feelings of fear, self-doubt, and anxiety. Saying it out loud often makes it clear that these are over-blown fears that don’t hold much truth to them.
There is power in sharing our story of imposter syndrome with friends and colleagues. When we open up about our feelings with people we trust they will often respond by sharing similar feelings to remind us that we aren’t alone. They might also share gratitude for making them feel less alone.
You may fear that being vulnerable in front of others will make them see you as weak. But in my experience, they will instead view you as courageous.
Remember that some of the best, brightest, and most successful people struggle with imposter syndrome. You can work through it and use this experience to better understand yourself, empathize with others, and fuel your ongoing progress.
Watch my latest YouTube video for more tips on overcoming imposter syndrome.