If I had a dime for every time I’ve deleted something before it’s finished or quit something before I’ve mastered it, I’d be a multi-millionaire. Well, maybe not quite, but darn close!
Ever since I was little, I distinctly remember becoming frustrated when things just didn’t seem to work. I recall many a frustrated evening pouring over my homework in an attempt to get it perfect, feeling like no matter how hard I worked, it would always pale in comparison to my smarter, better, faster classmates.
As an adult, running my own business, feelings of doubt have crept into my head more times than I can count. The voices appear, telling me that I’m not qualified to teach something or not experienced enough to lead someone.
It has plagued me, literally, for my entire life. All this time I’ve thought something was wrong with me. Like I was faulty in some way.
“Other people don’t feel this way. Look, they’re out in the world being great, why can’t I?”
Why can’t I?
Because I used to suffer from something called Imposter Syndrome. And if any of this resonates with you, then you may suffer from it too.
Imposter Syndrome is, in part, an inability to internalize one’s accomplishments, coupled with a consistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ This syndrome has a high prevalence among women and people of color, many of whom are very high achieving individuals.
People suffering from Imposter Syndrome tend to dismiss their efforts as luck, or timing, rather than genuine ability and talent. They frequently brush off compliments, lest they settle in and become fodder for a more positive internal narrative. Often, those who suffer from Imposter Syndrome will scrap a perfectly good idea, project, program, or piece of writing just because they do not believe themselves to be expert enough to share their story.
Changing your mindset can help diffuse the negative thoughts.
Curing Imposter Syndrome is an involved process. Especially if it has been ingrained into the fabric of who you are for many, many years. However, the good news is, that there are some hacks for minimizing and even ultimately eradicating the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome when they creep up.
1. Change your narrative. What is the internal dialogue you have with yourself every day? Do you tell yourself you’re capable, smart, and bold? Have you created a mantra for yourself that is empowering and inspiring? Do you tell yourself that you matter and that your ideas are valuable? Changing your mindset can help diffuse the negative thoughts. Create a few mantras that you can speak to yourself in moments of insecurity. My favorite is, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and I know that people like me!”
2. Do it anyway. Generally speaking, your first instinct is your best instinct. Unfortunately, as someone who has suffered from Imposter Syndrome for many years, I also know that usually, following that first instinct to create or do, a little voice pops up and quashes the idea flat. Instead, I want you to lean into it. Push the negative voice aside and barrel through with tenacity. That voice is a liar and a thief. Do not let her win. Go with that gut instinct to create and forge through. Do it anyway.
3. Go where you are fed. Not everyone is going to root for you. Not everyone is your cheerleader. You are doing yourself a disservice, surrounding yourself with people who do not support you. They are fuel to your syndrome when in fact you need water. Connecting with a like-minded tribe will be the thirst-quenching water you need to thrive. Find a tribe of people who love and support you in your endeavors. They will feed you and nourish you.
Imposter Syndrome continues to be an ongoing struggle for me. It is something I intentionally have to work against to avoid succumbing to its will. My morning routine includes encouraging mantras where I tell myself I’m good enough and smart enough. I surround myself with people who feed me and inspire me. I commit, every day, to doing something bold and doing it anyway.
You are bigger than your Imposter Syndrome.
You have a mission and a gift. It is up to you to ensure that Imposter Syndrome is not keeping that purpose and message stifled from those who need it most.