Imposter Syndrome — How to Upgrade Your Mindset to Outsmart This Mental Epidemic This article explores the pervasive nature of imposter syndrome, detailing its impact on personal and professional aspects of life.
- Imposter syndrome affects people of all ages and demographics, regardless of credentials and accomplishments.
- Strategies like self-awareness, minimizing comparisons, embracing growth and celebrating victories can help manage and overcome imposter syndrome.
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Imposter syndrome might very well be the biggest epidemic to hit your life. Personal, professional and everywhere in between, this one doesn't discriminate — and it preys on individuals of all ages and demographics, regardless of credentials and accomplishments.
Imposter syndrome is the common feeling of self-doubt, not being good enough, intellectual or traumatic experience fraud and the overall embodiment of a lack of mentality. It convinces you that you're not enough, and that alone can press you into dangerous mental health territory.
I have been an entrepreneur since I was 25. At that age — before living all of my life since then — I didn't have fear, nagging self-doubt or worry. I was bold and comfortable with failure. The older I got, the more prevalent the voices swirled in my head, telling me I was not good enough.
For me, imposter syndrome has kept me on the proverbial bench of my own life time and again. I didn't go to business school, I don't have a graduate degree, my last business didn't make seven figures, and my trauma isn't significant enough to matter. On and on and on, and when left unattended, screams like a wildfire demolishing a beautiful prairie. Poof! Down to the dirt.
While I know better, quieting the noise is no easy task. The good news is that I'm not alone with this one, nor are you. So many face imposter syndrome, even those who aren't ready to admit it yet. Self-doubt has become as common as our plea for more self-care: the latter a friend, and the former a foe.
So, while we could all wallow in our overwhelming need for external validation, I invite you on a different path. Let's double down on what we can do to invite more peace and presence instead of looking for the subsequent performative posturing that oozes dopamine from the instant gratification of social media hits or flattering praise from irrelevant audiences.
Imposter syndrome doesn't stand a chance if you're rooted in purpose, flowing in practice and surrounding yourself with people who lift you. Imposter syndrome is, at its very core, rooted in fear. But what if fear was just courage becoming known?
Have faith, friends. Have faith that you made it this far because you have done enough. Have faith because you are enough — one more time for the cheap seats. You ARE enough. And since this is all easier said than done, here are my little nuggets of wisdom to keep the negative self-talk at bay so you can employ the courage and confidence to press on with more lightness, peace and ease.
1. Be aware
Sometimes the truth hurts, but we get nowhere by kidding ourselves. When you feel the negativity creep in, take a minute to identify what's happening. Simply naming the emotion or emotional response reduces its power over our mind.
2. Welcome it in
A brilliant coach and a beautiful friend shared this practice, and I've used it repeatedly. When the feeling comes, acknowledge its presence. Invite it into your life like a neighbor passing by on the street. Pull out a chair and ask it to sit down. Being with the feeling lets us know that we can work through it. Take a couple of deep and maybe uncomfortable breaths with it there. And kindly ask it to leave.
3. Stop comparing
In other words, stay in your lane! Stop looking at what everyone else is doing, and stay focused on your creations. If there is something there that needs additional focus, double down on you. You were not put on this earth to be like anyone else, so quit measuring yourself against them. You're stirring up competitive tendencies that have no business in your world. Make a conscious effort to take social media breaks, spend more time in stillness, and have ample quiet time to get clear on your thoughts. Heck, you could even celebrate other people's wins!
4. Embrace growth
Thoughts of being less than or underqualified could stem from an overall feeling of stuckness. We all get stuck occasionally, and it's important to keep challenging ourselves to learn and grow. If we don't, we get bored, and when we're bored, we start scrolling. It's a hamster wheel that got us into this mindset mess to begin with! So make an effort to learn, keep being interested, and, as a result, interesting.
I sought my yoga teacher training certificate to understand why yoga was a powerful practice. I did it for myself, to deepen my own mind, body, and soul connection. Little did I know I would relocate to Southern California and own my own studio within five years of being certified. I'm surrounded by voices that have thousands of hours of credentials, have been teaching for decades, and, to me, fully embody the yogic lifestyle. Instead of feeling less than, I'm grateful to offer these voices to the community and wholeheartedly celebrate the opportunity to learn alongside such qualified individuals.
5. Celebrate victories
Honor your wins — big or small — as they come. Make a concerted effort to pat yourself on the back when you get to the 6 a.m. workout class, land a big client, close a seven-figure year or get external recognition. None of this is easy, so give yourself some gratitude when you accomplish even what seems like the most minor thing in your life.
6. Take risks
My all-time favorite quote is this: "Fortune favors the bold." If you don't try, you'll never know. Remember that redirection is God's protection. When you are told "no," I invite you to hear "not yet." But the biggest takeaway is that you must put yourself out there. In your most authentic way, share your gifts with the world.
I started my first business when I was 25. I left my stable job at a PR agency in downtown Chicago and accepted $1,000 monthly to support a non-profit I felt passionately about working with. The following month, I doubled that retainer and brought on a new client at an equal amount. I was out of my depth, but I learned by doing. None would have been possible if I hadn't taken a chance. Failure is an incredible teacher, and it's all impossible if you don't try.
Dealing with imposter syndrome might feel overwhelming, and maintaining mental health can feel like a full-time job. These tips and regular mindfulness practices like yoga, breathwork and meditation help keep you in alignment. One day, one hour and one moment at a time. And remember, you are not alone. You've got great company here; we're all on this life journey together.