So the ironic thing about this post is that I started to draft it weeks ago but haven’t been able to finish it because I have been struck down with imposter syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a feeling that I have over and over again, in all aspects of my life. It’s the “I’m not good enough.” It shows up when I am being ambitious, putting myself out there and trying new things and I hate it. It’s a nagging voice in my head that questions everything. Sometimes it is quiet and is fleeting, other times it is loud and continuous and it takes so much energy to respond to or it stops me dead in my tracks.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Who would be interested in hearing what you have to say?”
“That idea is so unfinished”
“That’s not worth talking about”
“There are far bigger problems in the world, why is this important?”
“What do you know?”
“What have you ever achieved?”
“What have you been doing all this time?”
It can be really mean! If I don’t catch it and put a stop to it, the nagging voice can go on and on and be incredibly stifling. It has stopped me from doing things and pushing through it can be exhausting.
I wish I would just turn this voice off all the time and just put myself out there boldly and without worrying whether or not I am enough. I mean really, what’s the worst that could happen?
And it’s not just me. Imposter syndrome keeps cropping up in articles I’m reading or blog posts or podcasts I’m listening to. When I tell people I’m writing this blog post they tell me that they are suffering from it too. It seems to be a really common thing for people and yet sometimes we feel like it’s just us or that outwardly confident and brilliant people couldn’t possibly have it. What I’m really interested in is when/why it stops some people from going after what they want and what it is that some people are able to do to push through it even if that voice inside them still has something to say.
So what can you do about it?
These are my top tips for dealing with it, and they must have some truth to them as finally published this blog post!
1) Fact or opinion
I ask myself if the doubt I’m feeling is based on a fact or an opinion. 9 times out of 10 it will be an opinion, even if it is the shitty opinion of my own inner voice. So, if my self-doubt is rooted in opinion I need to ignore those thoughts on focus on the facts.
2) Ask a friend for help
If you are struggling to decipher fact from opinion, find a trusted friend and tell them how you are feeling. They will probably say some really nice things about you, and whilst that is their job as your friend, they will show you how you make a difference in their life. They will have a unique take on what you have to offer that you might not be able to see yourself. They will probably also tell you something they are struggling with and it really helps to know that you are not the only one.
3) Find some inspiration
I sometimes find that what I think will be inspiring can actually trigger some imposter syndrome in me. I look to amazing women who are showing up boldly in the world and instead of feeling inspired, I’m left feeling that I couldn’t even come close in talent so why should I even bother. So instead, I look for truthful inspiration, the kind of warts and all inspiration that tells the whole story of how people have achieved their success. All the ups and downs, the failures as well as the triumphs and helpful advice about how to take action. Some of my favourite sources of really truthful inspiration are:
Real Talk Radio by Nicole Antoinette – a fantastic podcast that is 100% listener funded (I’m one of those funders!) Nicole has open and honest, no bullshit conversations with her guests and every time I listen to an episode I get that feeling that I want to get out there and contribute something to the world.
Pep talks from Marli Williams – I met Marli Williams at the World Domination Summit last year and her energy is infectious. I have one of her stoke quotes on my desk and when I need a little boost I check out a pep talk that is not only full of energy but also sheds some light on how to get unstuck
Anything by Brene Brown – if you haven’t heard of Brene Brown check out her TED talk and read her books. Brene describes herself as a shame and vulnerability researcher and she really understands why we stop ourselves through imposter syndrome. Her book Daring Greatly really helped me to see that just showing up and having a go is the most important thing.
4) Remember your why
When you feel like you and your work isn’t good enough come back to your why. What is it that drives you to do what you do and why is important to you? If you are really passionate about your why and making a difference in the world, think about the implications of not doing what you need to do. If I want to support more women to feel confident about themselves and their work then I need to get out there and do it. I won’t help anyone with a blank page or by staying home. If I can get out of the way of myself then just think of all the people I will be able to help. For me that thought is more powerful than the feelings of being an imposter.
5) Feel the fear and do it anyway
I might not get it right on the 1st attempt or the 10th attempt or the 100th attempt but when I do succeed all the failures and not quite getting things right will be worth it. So sometimes you just have to have a word with yourself and say “this may go really tits up but at least I’m giving it a go.” It is so easy to build up all of these reasons in your head that apply to theoretical work that you haven’t even done and it is such a waste of energy. So as my parents love to say, JFDI!
I certainly haven’t cracked imposter syndrome or not feeling like I’m enough, and it will always show up, but I know that every day that I post a blog or host an event or speak up in a meeting I’m sticking two fingers up to that feeling and making a difference in the world. How do you get over your feelings of imposter syndrome?