If you aren’t familiar with Impostor Syndrome then allow me to describe it for you. It sucks. This insecurity leads to the most toxic and insidious negative self talk you can imagine. It’s a nagging voice in your head that will undermine confidence and erode your self esteem. It’s the voice that “You don’t belong here” or “You don’t deserve that” when, in fact, nothing could be further than the truth.
This affliction strikes all, no matter the degree of success you are met with or how you achieved it. There are countless many who have earned the highest objective honors in their field and yet still wonder, “Do I deserve this?” Unreal.
Countless ideas, dreams, and wishes fall victim to Impostor Syndrome every single day. It keeps people from taking risks and without risk, one cannot move forward. Screw that.
Then just today, literally today, a friend complained of Impostor Syndrome completely unprompted while I was already in the middle of writing this piece. I love those little moments of synchronicity. That was all the motivation I needed to come home and finish this piece.
Here are some of my personal tips that help me hang an L on Impostor Syndrome the next time you go head-to-head.
- Practice Your Self Talk (it creates familiar neural pathways). Your thoughts are not who are. My self-talk can be pretty negative and I literally have to set appointments with myself to practice positive self-talk. This is one of those things where the more you focus on it the easier it becomes. Ultimately changing our self-talk is the best way to avoid Impostor Syndrome.
- Mediate, or Journal on it. For me, this means I will start a dialog with myself on why I am feeling this way. I will literally write out “Well that voice is back and I am feeling fraudulent again, why is this happening?” Then just keep writing. I will speculate with myself as I am searching for my thoughts. “Could it be because I didn’t finish that book?” or “Did someone hate on my work?” and my favorite “Are you just being hard on yourself?” Probably.
- Educate yourself and take it seriously. Whenever I am feeling fraudulent I try to add something to my talent stack. I’ll do some research and find a podcast or book to dig into. It’s important to be engaged in this process and I recommend taking notes. Any distractions while listening or reading will lower your overall comprehension and can actually invite Impostor Syndrome into your life. It’s like if you cheat on a test you passed but you know you didn’t learn anything.
- Fake it till you make it (or act like you’ve been there before). Sometimes you just have to face your fears and prove to yourself that you belong. The steps above will help you prepare for the moment, but ultimately you are going to have to take that next big step. This is when I remind myself that literally, everybody has a “first time” for everything. It’s impossible to avoid, pass, or skip and that comforts me. It’s a right of passage we can all identify with no matter our circumstances.