Conquering Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome affects everyone. It’s something that I think people forget that when they uplevel in their business from, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do with my marketing! I don’t know how to get clients!” Every time you see an added success in your business, you are faced with more problems. Imposter syndrome is one of those issues that will pop up hopefully not too much in your business (but if you’re anything like my business, almost every day).
Imposter Syndrome: Feeling Like an Imposter
Sarah DeGeorge defines imposter syndrome this way:
“Imposter syndrome makes you feel like an imposter. You don’t feel like you have a place at a certain table. But you do. However, sometimes as an entrepreneur we feel like if we don’t know everything and we can’t do everything, we feel like we are lesser. But we really aren’t. It plays into how we feel about everything we do. 9/10 times imposter syndrome makes us feel like we shouldn’t be doing this or offering that, even though we have the skills.”
Basically, imposter syndrome makes you feel like you don’t belong where you are, regardless if it’s valid or not. It shows up no matter if you are supposed to be there or not. Sometimes it rears its ugly head not only when you don’t belong somewhere but when you aren’t there yet.
For me, it gets exacerbated when I fall into the comparison trap. I look at people and say things like, “Oh, I’ve been following her for two years and she’s grown so much. I don’t know if I’ve grown that much.” I spiral down thinking crazy thoughts.
Tell Yourself the Truth
Every little bit I’ll catch myself falling back into it. I’ll be feeling really good, then I’ll catch myself falling into an old habit of it. Take the other day for example. I was thinking about recording an interview. I was feeling a little anxious, thinking I should reschedule because I don’t do great interviews when I’m up in the anxiety world.
So I told myself, “No. Amy, you’re being ridiculous. You’re ahead of the game right now with your podcast, and you’re looking for a way to freak out because you’re experiencing imposter syndrome.” Imposter syndrome was telling me, “There’s no way you could normally be this prepared, it doesn’t make sense, so let’s mess it up.”
We want to do great things, but imposter syndrome gets in the way. There’s no way to prepare perfectly for anything and that’s where imposter syndrome creeps in.
I’ve done a lot of reading on imposter syndrome. There’s this great book called “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women” by Dr. Valerie Young. It’s so good. I highly recommend reading it. In the book, one of the things she talks about is perfectionism.
I’m a perfectionist. Not the good type, where I double-check everything, but rather the type that says, “I NEED TO BE PERFECT!” Then I’m not because no one is perfect, but you know. Perfectionism tends to be a default for everyone because they think, “If I’m not perfect, it proves to me that I don’t belong here.” It feeds off of that whole ridiculous story that’s going on in your brain. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to Take Control of Imposter Syndrome
I asked Sarah DeGeorge what she does to make this thought process go away each and every time it shows up:
“It’s a mix of certain things. I think it depends on where the genesis is coming from. Did someone I ask a question and I don’t know it? Then I feel like, ‘Oh, my god, I’m an imposter!’ But how was I supposed to know that someone on this day of this year was going to ask me this question that I something I don’t have a background in? To break this feeling, I know it’s as simple as sitting down and taking the time to learn whatever I didn’t know. That’s just one way.
“I know we can’t know everything and have this unlimited source of knowledge. Sometimes that makes me feel better, just taking the time to learn something new. I look back at where I was at some point and where I am now. Even if I don’t feel like I’m meeting those goal milestones and I think “I’m such an imposter and I shouldn’t be talking about marketing if I don’t know everything.” Then I think, “Wait, but I know so much more now than I did 3-4 years ago. I have made the time and now have the background and skill set.
“Sometimes I guess you just need a reminder that you have made progress and that you aren’t an imposter. You are a person who is continually working and learning your craft to better it. We are in a world where things are changing all the time anyway. Your knowledge and skill set are always going to be changing and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
If you don’t know something, take the time to learn it.
Remind yourself that you didn’t always know what you know now. You’re always learning. In 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years you’ll know more as long as you keep trying. Everything is a process. You shouldn’t feel like you don’t belong somewhere because of one thing or another.
A big first step in this is being self-aware. You have to be self-aware to be able to catch yourself in these thought processes. Because you aren’t aware of what’s going on you’ll never have an opportunity to change it.
Don’t forget about positive self-talk. I did an interview on self-sabotage. It’s important to have gratitude towards yourself and be okay with the fact that you aren’t where you want to be. I think there’s this huge misconception that you’re going to arrive at this place where everything is going to be perfect. It’s not like that.
We live in a world where we are seeing everyone’s highlight reels.
You may put yourself against your peers. However, think if you were to sit down with them feeling how the feelings of imposter syndrome and they tell you about the terrible day or a crappy week they’ve had, or about other failures like their marketing strategy not going as planned. Imposter syndrome is so rampant around so many people but we just don’t always see it.
We feel like we’re the odd man out even though it’s going on all around us. We compare ourselves, but we are all going through the same thing, even if it isn’t at the same time. Comparison is a way some imposter syndrome manifests for some people.
You may develop different manifestations of imposter syndrome at different points in your business. It’s so intricate and hard to try to attack the issue too. For myself, it took me a long time to realize what was going on in my brain. I felt like I was always beating myself up. I asked myself, “What’s wrong with me? Do I hate myself?” But it all came down to imposter syndrome.
I’ve been okay with it.
I’m good at having that pep talk with myself. It’s important to become self-aware and have talks with yourself. Imposter syndrome is objective and personal. Most times no one besides you can tell. If you bring up how your feeling, most people will tell you that they haven’t noticed your marketing not being up to scrap or your content being great even if you thought it was horrible. But then you feel all weird because you brought up your insecurities. Then it spirals.
It’ll spiral UNLESS YOU see the signs of imposter syndrome and come up with your own way of taking care of it. The great thing is that most people don’t care. It sounds bad, but to me, it feels like a weight is lifted off my shoulders sometimes.
Sometimes I’ll go to my favorite podcast episodes and think, “if they are doing this and they have 5 million followers and fans that actively seek out xyz advice, I feel like mine is okay quality. I mean, I’m nowhere near where they are but it’s not like I’m whispering on the other end and it’s inaudible. If you listen to those you like, you’ll probably start to think that there really isn’t that much difference between you both.
There really isn’t much of a difference between different kinds of work you do in your business. What changes are your feelings towards it. The prouder you are of the work you do, the more likely you are to get that imposter syndrome words out of your mind. It tries to creep back, but you can deal with it time and time again. As you work on a task, again and again, you’ll start feeling more relaxed about it. It’s like muscle memory. It should get easier over time.
Sarah George leaves us with some words of wisdom:
“My words of wisdom are that you should be okay with feeling that you don’t belong somewhere, because you absolutely do. Take these moments as moments to reflect on your business and ask yourself, ‘Am I doing things the way I want to or am I trying to compare myself to somebody else?’
With imposter syndrome you look at yourself and compare, asking, ‘Am I up at that level?’ We all have our own growth pattern and it will take its own time. To beat imposter syndrome, assess it, look for ways to calm your mind, and continue with your business. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you or your business. Just work through it and it will be okay, I promise.”