How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is real. Especially when pursuing a new endeavor, or breaking out on your own as a freelancer or entrepreneur. However, the reality is often far different from what’s happening inside your noggin. I remember my first few copywriting jobs. I felt like such a massive fraud. To be fair, I was faking it till I made it at the time, but the inner dialogue was off the charts. And I knew nothing about how to overcome imposter syndrome at work.
I believed that because my client had not gotten back to me with feedback on the copy I had written for a few days, they thought it was awful. I convinced myself they regretted hiring me and would ask for their deposit back. I would continue to do head-miles and decide that I had no talent and they would expose me as a fraud. It would get to the point where I considered quitting my writing dream all-together!
Then, eventually, the client would contact me and apologize for getting back to me so late because they had been busy. They would provide feedback which was no so bad at all, sometimes mostly positive, and I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world after all. It had all been in my head!
It is because of how the imposter has crippled me in the past that compelled me to write this post so I can hopefully help others learn how to overcome imposter syndrome in a new job. But first…
What is imposter syndrome?
Wikipedia defines imposter syndrome:
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.
The dreaded imposter syndrome can take place at any stage of a person’s career. And it even happens to the best of us.
“I always feel like something of an impostor. I don’t know what I’m doing.” ~ Jodie Foster, two-time academy award-winning actress
Therefore, accepting that it may never completely disappear if you feel Imposter Syndrome is essential. However, you can manage imposter syndrome to prevent the fear and doubts from crippling your work. Most of the freelancers and entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to have admitted to experiencing imposter syndrome, and I’m sure those numbers are significant for imposter syndrome in the workplace too.
So, how do we overcome imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome how to overcome
Firstly, tell the imposter to shut the fuck up
You must silence that inner critic in your head before he gets on a roll. I am of the belief; you are what you think.
As soon as you hear that little devil on your shoulder, attempting to fill your brain with fear and doubt, replace it with thoughts that begin with:
- I can…
- I have…
- And I will…
Better yet, say them out loud. AKA affirmations. It may sound corny, yet affirmations can help change your inner-dialogue. Remember, you are the master of your own mind—no one else. Be sure to let the imposter know who’s boss!
Read my post on mindset and visualization here which can also assist in overcoming imposter syndrome.
Focus on the task at hand
Not only focus, but pour your heart into the project. One of my favorite quotes comes from Doctor Norman Vincent Peale in his classic book, The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale refers to a coach who gave his trapeze artist student, who doubted making a jump, some words of wisdom.
“Throw your heart over the bar, and your body will follow.”
It means by throwing your heart into whatever you’re doing and having faith, the results will follow. I find it an incredibly inspiring quote that can be applied to any challenging task. Whenever you take on a challenging task, just throw your heart over the bar, love what you are doing and work at it with passion. By doing so, you can rest assured that you did your best.
Listen to your gut - your subconscious
It will let you know whether you have done the work required. By knowing this, it no longer matters what your client, boss, or critics have to say, as you have a clear-conscious knowing that you put in the effort. And more often than not, you’ll receive positive feedback and a job well done.
And this helps to shrink that little shit of an inner critic for next time
Focus on your wins
Have you heard of the term negativity bias? Negativity bias refers to how we can tend to focus more on negative memories than positive ones. I’m sure you can relate now, right? But it’s comforting knowing you are not alone. Most of us tend towards our setbacks and negative experiences rather than our positive ones.
But now that you are knowledge of this, you can become aware and catch your thoughts when they sway towards the negative. And replace those thoughts with a positive experience instead, AKA your wins. Chances are you have more wins to draw upon that failures, you just have to tap into them! The more you practice this, the more natural it will become, leading to a much more overall positive mindset, which the imposter hates!
Treat failure as education
If you do experience negative feedback, try not to take it personally. Instead, listen to the feedback and take it on board. View feedback as a free lesson on how to learn and grow in whatever profession you are pursuing. Because every mistake you learn from you will become just that little much better and that devilish imposter will become just that little bit smaller.
Remember, you got this!