The mind can be both a great and terrible thing.
It’s great in that we can generate so many new ideas and perceptions of the world.
It’s terrible when it starts working against us to undermine our own progress and success.
People who come up with great ideas or find success in some avenue of their life may find themselves dealing with imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is an internalized fear that a person will eventually be outed as a fraud.
They doubt their accomplishments, minimize their knowledge and experience, and doubt their own capabilities as a result.
Many successful people, from entrepreneurs to artists, experience imposter syndrome. And it is not limited to professional ventures either.
A person may experience imposter syndrome by being exceptionally good at a particular hobby, but not professionally trained, so they undermine their own skill and ability.
How can we overcome imposter syndrome and feel confident in our successes and abilities?
Understand that you don’t need to be the best at what you’re doing.
People who experience imposter syndrome may undermine their own skills and abilities by comparing themselves to people who are more accomplished or educated; people they perceive to be better at what they do.
That is an unreasonable expectation and standard to hold oneself to.
There is always going to be someone more knowledgeable and better than you are at a given thing.
And there will always be someone who is more knowledgeable and better at the thing than the person you are holding yourself to.
Just because someone is better at something, doesn’t mean that your contribution is not valuable.
Maintain perspective by reminding yourself that those people you have placed on a pedestal are just as human as you are, and likely have experienced the same fears and doubts as you have.
You don’t have to be the best at what you to find accomplishment and success.
Accept that you have played a part in your own accomplishment and success.
Balance is an important part of life. It’s good to be humble, but it’s also good to be able to take some credit where it’s due.
After all, you are the one who put in the effort and took the risk to reach the success that you have.
It’s okay if you were helped along the way. No one succeeds at anything without some assistance from other people. That’s not a good reason to disqualify your own accomplishments.
Even if you had help or stood on the shoulders of people that came before you, you still had your own contributions to make and did so.
Take some time to look at where you started, where you’re currently at, and where you’re going.
Acknowledge your own effort and work, what energy and resources you expended to get to where you’re at.
Focus on the final product of your work and the value you provide to others.
There is no greater proof of competency than the results and value that you deliver to the world.
A person who has worked hard to create something will have tangible proof of their own competence right in front of them.
Maybe it’s a product that sells well, testimonials from clients, positive feedback from a fan who liked a piece of art you created, or reaching a major goal.
The fear and doubt that imposter syndrome injects can be overcome by focusing on that tangible proof of what you’ve accomplished.
You look at it and you counter that negative internal narrative with a positive one. Reinforce that your work and skill helped to create whatever the thing is and force the negative thought processes out of your mind.
Easier said than done, right? It’s simple, but it’s not easy. But it does get easier the more you do it.
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Accept that you are human and will make mistakes. That doesn’t mean you’re a fraud.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor, expert or novice, intelligent or not. Everyone does make and will make mistakes if they are trying to do anything at all.
People who are experiencing imposter syndrome will often take a mistake they made and skew it to be a confirmation that they are not as good as they think they are or that they are a fraud.
But it’s not proof of being a fraud. Trying and failing at something is proof that you’re making an active effort to change something.
Failure is part of the process of success. If you grow to look at failures as part of the path to success, they start to lose their power over you.
You can just shrug and tell yourself, “Okay. I made this mistake. No big deal. Let’s find a solution.” And then you move on to the next part of what you want to accomplish.
Behind every successful venture there is often a string of bad decisions, failures, and restarts as the people involved refined and honed their approach. All you’re actually seeing is the end result of a lot of work.
Understand that you don’t need to have all of the answers.
A person suffering from imposter syndrome may feel like they are a fraud if they do not have all of the answers to the questions they are asked.
The problem with this mindset is that no one, even the most knowledgeable of experts, has all of the answers to every question they are asked.
It’s okay to not know things, just as much as it is okay to fail at things.
In fact, you can actually improve your credibility by admitting that you don’t know things when pressed on an issue that you’re not familiar with.
A lack of knowledge does not make you a fraud or an imposter. A lack of knowledge is something you’d expect.
There is a common trope where a person who learns about a subject realizes just how much they don’t actually know about it. It’s a trope because it’s the truth.
Knowledge about a thing helps illuminate where the gaps and holes are in what you think you know about the subject. That’s normal and to be expected.
Push through it and keep working, regardless of how you feel.
The unfortunate truth is that some people still feel a deep rooted sense of not belonging, even when they actively work to curb it.
You may find yourself struggling with imposter syndrome no matter how much you try to defuse or unwind it.
There are some people who have struggled with it even after a lifetime of accomplishments. People like Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and Neil Gaiman have all made public statements about feeling like frauds despite their accomplishments.
Sometimes we can’t escape the way that we feel, no matter how much we try.
The good news is that you can still choose to confront your fears and misgivings and push through them toward success.
You don’t have to let these negative feelings stop you or slow down your pursuit of what you want in life, what you want to accomplish, what goals you want to crush.
Don’t let your fears and feelings stop you.
Sort through them if you need to, remind yourself that imposter syndrome is not an accurate reflection of who you are, keep your eyes on your goal and go after it as hard as you can!