Managing Imposter Syndrome
Gotta love chronic self-doubt, right? No? How about persistent feelings of inadequacy and the fear of your friends and coworkers finding out you’re a phony despite all the fabulous accomplishments and progress you’ve made? Welcome to Imposter Syndrome, my friends.
If you haven’t experienced Imposter Syndrome yet, there’s a good chance you will, because an estimated 70% of us will feel it at some point in our lives. It comes in many forms, even as subtle as downplaying your accomplishments or acting like you don’t do as much work as you actually do.
Yes, it’s completely normal to have fleeting moments of perceived unworthiness. It only becomes a problem when you decide that you only got to where you are now because of luck rather than the hard work, talent, and qualifications you damn well earned.
So, what are you supposed to do when these feelings come up? What if you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome right this very minute?
Try A Mindfulness Technique Called, “Noting”
Sometimes our brains try to trick us into thinking we’re not as awesome as we actually are. These brains of ours can be sneaky, and they tend to do this in ways we don’t realize. One way is by creating negative self-talk known as inner chatter. This Noting technique helps us quiet our inner chatter, as it can be extremely harmful to our self esteem and can ultimately lead to Imposter Syndrome symptoms.
I first heard about Noting while taking a guided meditation on the Headspace App. Noting is when we identify our negative inner chatter as simply a “thought” or a “feeling,” rather than an accurate statement about our personal identity. When a thought pops up in our head, we are to let it pass by, and then label it as one of the two. This allows us to take a step back and realize our thoughts and feelings are not always accurate.
Our inner monologue can be so inaccurate that Jay Shetty, former monk, is one of the many who began calling the little, negative voice in his head by a completely different name. Jay learned to call his inner chatter, “Monkey Brain,” so as not to give it the credibility it’s seeking.
Have Faith in Your Work
Chances are, if you’ve done the necessary practice and spent the time to learn the skill you’re selling, you’re better at it than you think. Even when our arch nemesis, Imposter Syndrome, has something clever to say, building faith in our art is one way to begin to conquer this pesky little nonbeliever. A potential client will usually outsource a project for one of two reasons: 1. They physically can’t do the task themselves because they don’t have any idea how to, or 2. They don’t have the time. You, my friend, have both.
We don’t need to be the greatest in the world at what we do, we just need to provide the product or service to the best of our ability. Not being a famous artist yet does not make us any less equipped for the job (even compared to someone who has 10 million followers on Instagram). The more time you spend believing in yourself, the less space there is for Imposter Syndrome.
Prove it to Yourself
Just like the trick where you’re supposed to look at your social media profile before a job interview, I love to look at my own digital portfolio and testimonials when I’m feeling imposter-y.
Typically, our social media and portfolios show our greatest highlights in work and life. That’s why this trick works. Every single time I look at my portfolio, which showcases my favorite pieces I’ve created, I think, “Wow, I really did all of this. That’s pretty cool.”
Get your accomplishments in a physical or digital space you have easy access to. Look back at all the awesome things you’ve done and congratulate yourself on your progress. Make sure your bio explains what you do confidently, and read it until you believe it. If you’re finding it difficult to create a bio, ask someone else to write it for you.
Bonus: Add a photo of yourself when you were creating something so you have an image that proves to yourself that the things on this landing page are indeed YOU, and that this is what you do.
Don’t Let Your Competitors Win
And when I say ‘win’, I mean ‘rob you of your compassion for imperfection.’ Competitors are competitors because yes, they are damn good at what they do. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t.
They probably aren’t actually your competitors as much as you think they are. Chances are, they are targeting a completely different audience than you!
Remember how many hours it takes to get good at something. We’re in our 20s – we still suck at most things in life. Be kind to yourself because you're practicing, evolving, and mastering your skill.
Your competitors aren’t better, smarter, or more creative than you, they just spent more time mastering it. No piece of art you create will be perfect. Thank your competitors for inspiring and motivating you.
Know What to Do with Criticism
At its simplest, criticism is not meant to propel us into a 24-hour pit of self-loathing; it’s meant to help us learn and grow. Acknowledging the fact that not everyone’s going to love what we put out into the world allows criticism to elevate our work.
Try reframing your thoughts by understanding the meaning of criticism, and inform your “Monkey Brain” that whoever dealt you the criticism wants to see you do better. When being criticized, try saying, “Thank you. I’ll take that into consideration” rather than slipping into defense mode. Of course, this is only if this criticism is constructive. If someone’s just bullying you on Instagram, block them.
I find myself going through phases of Imposter Syndrome. It comes in various forms and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m very early in my career, as are many of you. It can be difficult to pinpoint what to let go and what to chase. From my understanding, this all comes with time, practice, and a lot of small (sometimes big) failures.
With these tips you can start to better understand that Imposter Syndrome is a part of the human condition, and no one is safe. We just need to learn how to combat it, and continue to create even when these feelings arise. Now go on and tell yourself what you need to hear.
Read the second installment of Recipes for Results here!
Read more about Kendra here!