I’m sure if I asked the majority of women to put their hands up if they had ever experienced imposter syndrome there would be a lot of hands in the air!
But what is it?
You’re constantly doubting your own ability and compare yourself to other people who you think are more successful than you.
You feel like you’re wearing a mask of confidence and courage but at any moment you’re scared it will slip and everyone will see you for the fraud you are.
You avoid situations where you need to “put yourself out there” incase people don’t like you. Or you make a mistake. Or someone else who’s the “real” expert calls you out.
At the heart of imposter syndrome is not feeling good enough. It’s strongly linked to perfectionism (that’s a whole other topic – read my blog on Perfectionism - The Impossible Goal ).
It’s also more prevalent in high achievers, which explains why so many budding entrepreneurs and career women struggle with it.
It’s really a collection of beliefs, thoughts and feelings that create a big scary block in your ability to move forward with your business and career goals.
Why does feeling like an imposter have such an impact on your ability to show up and take action?
Because if you feel like a fake, then you’re not going to show up as your true self. You’re going to hold back your opinions in social media posts. That’s if you can bring yourself to post at all!
You’re not going to do a live video because you don’t feel like an expert and are terrified of being judged.
You’re going to procrastinate (which in your mind looks like legitimate reasons why you can’t do something) and miss opportunities to showcase your business. You will probably avoid networking events, doing talks or anything else that puts you on the spot.
Because who are you to be the expert?
Well, who says you’re not? We all have some experience knowledge or expertise that we bring to the world, and we all have our own unique way of doing it.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?” Nelson Mandela
I’d love for you to not only see your potential, but to do something great with it. Because you know the thing that’s worse? Hiding it away, not trying, and then being regretful on your death bed.
(I feel like I’ve gone for that extreme truth bomb death-bed statement again, but I'm not one for sugar coating and if you don't get reminded of this by me, maybe no-one else will, so I kind of feel like I owe it to you to drop it in to my writing every now and then!).
Anyway, here’s 4 easy ways you can combat feeling like an imposter!
Take a reality check.
You see all that customer feedback you get. Testimonials, reviews, thank you emails, cards, published articles… get them out and read them! Anything that reminds you of your wins, whether it’s a coaching client, a product review, or just someone that was impressed with your service or the way you went over and above.
Perhaps a friend sent you a thank you card for being a great support, or a message saying how much they appreciate some of your amazing qualities.
Save them somewhere where you can easily find them and if you’re having doubts just read them and get that reality check – yes you can do it!
Change the way you talk to yourself
That inner critic that tells you you’re a fake, that you’re not good enough, that you may as well shut up shop and go home, is having a powerful effect on your whole system. Your mind responds to the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself.
Just by changing your words to more encouraging ones and seeing yourself in a more positive way will make a huge difference to how you feel and then how you act.
Imagine yourself talking clearly and confidently about a topic you care about. Give yourself a pep talk and reminding yourself that you are good enough. That you’re doing an amazing job because all the reviews and feedback prove it. That you’re looking forward to sharing your views with others or meeting new people.
Your mind will get the message that this is not a threat to your life and you won’t become so stressed and anxious.
Ditch trying to be perfect
Trying to be perfect is just fear pretending it’s being hard working and useful.
It’s far better to give something a go and learn from it than not to try at all and miss out. And people don’t like people who are perfect!
Just think about what we now see as normal in the way we work. People zooming in from messy, chaotic homes with kids and pets running around. Experts trying to keep us going with thrown together fitness classes and cooking stuff in their kitchen, or dancing in their lounge.
Who do you follow or admire on TV or social media? What is it you love about what they do? I bet it’s something to do with them being normal, vulnerable, and just doing their best to show up and make a difference in their own way with what they’ve got.
Often our expectations of what we should be able to achieve are too high and ill-defined. If we don’t match up to this invisible standard, we beat ourselves up and put a big “FAILURE” stamp on our head.
Decide now to view trying failing and learning as part of the journey to getting better at something No-one is ever going to know whether something will work out or not. There are no guarantees. But just because something didn’t work out the way you imagined doesn’t mean you’re a fraud.
And the more you work at something, the more skilled you get, the more confident you get.
As Thomas Edison famously said:
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work”.
If you want to take back control and stop feeling like an imposter in your own life email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.