What is imposter syndrome and how do I kick its ass?
70% of people say they have the imposter syndrome, but what is it? Is there an imposter syndrome test? Quite simply, the definition of imposter syndrome is where a person doubts their talent or skills and is in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud.
In this article, I’ll cover 9 easy tips on how you can beat the imposter syndrome you can apply today. The number one tip is realizing that you aren’t alone: Neil Gaiman, Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou all felt like a fraud. I have the imposter syndrome!
I’ve drawn the statistics and advice from these helpful articles:
- 6 Strategies to Help You Beat Imposter Syndrome
- 10 Ways to Beat Imposter Syndrome
- 10 Steps You Can Use to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- 5 Steps To Shake The Feeling That You’re An Impostor
- The Reality of Imposter Syndrome
I’ll also cover three articles I found on Medium about the imposter syndrome, one of which was published earlier today.
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#1 – Imposter Syndrome is Normal
Before writing this article, I felt the imposter syndrome creep up inside of me. I asked myself, “what do I know about the this?” I’m not a psychiatrist, but I live with the symptoms. And I can certainly do the research, which is how I found Kat Husband’s (Twitter @KatHusbands) article: Imposter syndrome in user-centered design and how to beat it.
Oh great! Kat published an article the same day and on the same platform of something I wanted to write about! I could have said this is a sign that I’m not qualified to talk about the this, too, especially considering Kat’s survey, statistics, and charts.
But, I have something to say, too! And so do you! You don’t have to take an imposter syndrome test to realize that you feel inferior or incapable of doing your task. Nearly everyone feels this. (Well, maybe not Ellen Pao, the former Reddit CEO.)
The first step of beating imposter syndrome is knowing that you aren’t alone–far from it!!
#2 – Reframe Negative Thoughts
It is perfectly fine to feel disappointed in yourself for not achieving certain results or not having certain knowledge. You can use that as motivation. The trouble comes when you start feeling ashamed.
Look at your thought pattern and see if they motivate you to do better or they stifle you through shame and the feeling of being unworthy. There’s a big difference!
#3 – Stop Comparing
Nothing will destroy a writer’s or blogger’s joy than comparing yourself to other writers and bloggers. Comparison is the seed of the feeling like a fraud. It doesn’t matter if you think the writer is better or worse than you, it is the very foundation of the imposter syndrome.
I wrote about what even top writers forget about: remembering who they are writing to–who is the audience? In a lot of cases, writing can be motivated by writing to yourself. Forget the world and what they may think. Make yourself an audience of one and make yourself your own expert.
#4 – Keep Going Despite the Emotions
There is truth in the phrase “fake it until you make it.” The more you practice something, the more competent you will feel. You will pick up the skills necessary to carry on and soon enough will find yourself in the place of producing what you thought you were originally incapable of producing.
For writers, I believe you need to keep writing. A lot of days it may feel like complete crap. But if you keep at it, day-in-and-day-out, you will find that writing becomes easier. You may even get validation from other people. But most importantly, you will feel validation within yourself increase.
#5 – Embrace a Growth Mindset
Since you are comparing yourself only to yourself, you may as well make a game out of it. See where you can improve and set benchmarks for yourself.
Frances Maxwell (Twitter @francesmx) talks about how she beat imposter syndrome in her career as a software engineer: How I recovered from imposter syndrome after changing career to software engineering.
A LOT of overcoming imposter syndrome involves pushing yourself to beat yourself. Again, not in a shameful, abusive, or hurtful way, but in a motivational way that will inspire you to be better.
#6 – Learn Your Motivators
Speaking of motivating yourself, what motivates you to do what you are doing? This can be in work or your hobbies or community work, etc. There are many applications of applying motivators to overcome imposter syndrome.
Some examples of motivators could include:
- A certain number of articles published within a set time frame.
- A set number of steps taken for your personal walking challenge.
- Time spent reading books to improve yourself.
If you like to read or engage socially, allow these things to be your motivators in beating imposter syndrome.
#7 – Talk to Someone
This has been my biggest help. I talk to a therapist and a psychologist, as well as talk to my wife and friends. The more I talk, the more I find out what is imposter syndrome and how to overcome it. It helps set up definitions and expose them, which is half the battle.
Trained therapists and psychologists are great at targeting the instigators of this fraud feeling, which helps cut them off before they overload my emotions or my day-to-day life.
Friends are equally important in the process. Oftentimes finding out that you aren’t alone is monumental in living with the feelings of imposter syndrome.
#8 – Rely on Past Experience
Chances are, you have accomplished something of value in the past. It could have been in school or at work, or in the community, but whatever it is, it is important to look back and see that you HAVE added value.
When you begin to doubt your worth or your trueness, look at the value that you have given in the past. Have you created something that someone appreciated? Have you made or researched something that helped your team achieve their goal?
How can you apply the lessons you’ve learned in your past to what you are working on today? Realize that you are worthy and that you CAN do this.
#9 – Improve Mindfulness
You don’t have to meditate to be mindful. Being mindful is being aware. Feel your feelings; witness your thoughts. When you are aware of what is going on, you can find ways of overcoming imposter syndrome.
Will meditation help? I’m sure it will! But you don’t have to clear your mind of its thoughts to be aware of your feelings and develop a strategy to harness their power.
The best thing you can do in overcoming imposter syndrome is to realize what is imposter syndrome and know that you are not alone. 70% of all people say they experience and associate with the definition of imposter syndrome.
From there, embrace your feelings, don’t compare yourself to others, and see the value you have provided in the past. See what motivates you and develop a growth mindset. All of this will help you in how to deal with imposter syndrome.
What story do you have to tell?
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