Imposter syndrome can be a real bugger. A lot of us suffer terribly with it but we don’t actually realise what it is so we get worked up and quit without really knowing why.
So what is Imposter Syndrome, why do we all seem to suffer from it at some point and what can we do to combat this widespread, insidious dream crusher?
All shall be revealed in the next 1,000 or so words.
What is imposter syndrome?
In its simplest terms, imposter syndrome is feeling like you don’t deserve to hold the position you do , or that you’re simply not good enough at something, despite being more than adept at the task.
So many people have suffered from Imposter syndrome over the years, including myself very recently.
After the two year anniversary of the blog, I found myself in a bit of a rut.
Despite consistently posting once a week for 104 weeks on the bounce, I felt like my blog simply wasn’t good enough, that people didn’t care what I was writing about and that truth be told, I was just a big stinkin’ failure.
I started looking on job sites to see if there was any work going and after finding nothing I fancied, I reluctantly persisted with the writing.
I didn’t really understand at the time, but I was suffering from imposter syndrome.
I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and this permeated through my effort levels. I wasn’t pitching to brands as much, I wasn’t writing content regularly enough and I just wasn’t giving it the beans I knew I should have been.
One morning, after sitting myself down and basically telling myself that I was being stupid, I fired off about 200 emails to companies, I sent hundreds more freelance copywriting pitches to potential clients and within 2 weeks, I had turned it all back around.
Imposter syndrome almost derailed a career that I love and I can put good money on the fact that it has claimed a lot more budding careers of people who weren’t as fortunate as me.
If someone like Michelle Obama suffers from it, we can rest assured that it isn’t just a mental issue of peasant rat-race dwellers like us – so don’t be disheartened – that’s my main message.
But, I don’t like people who wallow either, so although we can admit that Imposter Syndrome is a cruel mistress, if you’re not willing to put the work in that is required to flourish again, then quit yo jibba jabba foo’.
However – if you are ready to put that fire back in your belly, then read on…
Why do we suffer from it?
It’s not exactly known why we suffer from crippling self-doubt and imposter syndrome but there are a few theories flying about.
For some reason, it seems that the more successful we become, the more likely we are to suffer from imposter syndrome.
You work harder and harder to justify yourself to yourself, which becomes a never-ending cycle of pushing and pushing to try and prove to yourself that you are worthy, even if you were already to begin with.
How to quieten the self-doubt
There are a few ways that I have learned over the past few months that have really helped me to quell the inner doubt in my mind and that has allowed me to push on to start to really make a career out of what I do best – writing.
I’m probably not even a very good writer truth be told, but because I have almost bulletproof confidence, people believe in me – and so I believe in myself.
Here are the tips that can help you do the same.
Do your research
Once I realised that what I was suffering from was a serious bout of Imposter Syndrome, I did what anyone would do…looked for celebrities who shared my flaws.
This sounds a little bit daft I know but it’s a great way to realise that what you’re going through isn’t just happening to you and that it isn’t an ailment the elite are immune to.
Once you realise that it is actually quite a common occurrence, you will come to realise that it isn’t that big of a deal if you don’t let it become one.
It was comforting to realise I wasn’t insane for thinking this and that actually, my thoughts were common – but also that they were symptomatic of Imposter Syndrome and not actually of the facts, because the facts were – I was doing well! I just didn’t (want to) see it.
The same is more than likely happening to you if you’re reading this article, so just know that you are more than good enough and that you shouldn’t quit your mission just because you have a bad few days, weeks, months or even years.
Things have a habit of working themselves out for those that believe in it.
I have actually written about affirmations before at length.
I believe them to be a huge help for those that need to give themselves a mental boost.
Having used them for about 3 years now, I can safely say that they have helped me in whatever I have utilised them for.
As cringe as it sounds, I used to have an affirmation a couple of years ago when I first started out that went as follows;
“I am an elite-level writer and successful businessman”.
At the time? An absolute load of bollocks – I was neither.
However, I am getting much closer. I write for a living and work for myself, two things that weren’t true at the time of affirming them but that became true after hard work, belief and consistency.
Using affirmations can remind you of your mission every day and keep you on track to become who you want to be.
My imposter syndrome did actually come at a point where I hadn’t done affirmations for a few months actually…maybe I should start doing them again…
I harp on about the benefits of mediation like I was on commission from Buddha himself, but it really is a life-changing habit.
If you can find the time to be still for 10 minutes per day and meditate properly, you will literally become a different person in a drastically short period of time.
I’ve always been a very calm bloke (with the exception of stress from time to time) but meditation just blew everything away.
It made me feel so composed and helped me to see the bigger picture. When something bad happens in our lives, we always tend to focus in on the micro, not the macro.
Your dinner tastes like uncooked pigs nipples, so what? You’ll have another dinner tomorrow. Hell, you’ll probably have another dinner later that night – get over it.
That’s obviously just a stupid example but hopefully it’s painted a picture of the sort of laissez faire attitude we need to employ if we are to beat Imposter Syndrome.
Meditation allows us to hone this mindset. It allows us to develop a thicker skin, more resolve and much better willpower to push on through the doubt and get to the other side, where we will find more work, more joy and more good vibes – true story.
Just keep practicing.
I know it’s a simple instruction but I am a very simple man. Simple is what works best. It has done for a million years before us and will do for a million years after.
The chances are – you’re really good at what you do, but maybe you’re disheartened by a lack of progress – that was my main issue.
This is why keeping a log of how far you’ve come is exceptionally important to shake you out of a rut.
Whatever it is that you do, keep going, keep improving and KEEP A LOG.
The gym? Take pictures once every two weeks along with measurements, a log of amount of weight lifted per session, etc.
If you’re a social media star, look how far your pictures have come, how many followers you’ve gained, etc.
If you’re a shelf stacker, look how many more shelves you stacked this week than last.
It can be applied to anyone, anywhere, anytime. As long as you’ve got some form of log to look back on after 6 months to see how much you have improved, you’re on the right track.
When I was trying to get out of my Imposter Syndrome rut, I took a look back through my old Instagram posts and stories and good lord, were they bad.
Some of the crap I’d uploaded was off-the-scale bad and yet I thought of myself as not having changed, having basically been plateaued the entire time, when in fact, my content had improved a hundred fold and I had made so many more new friends online – it was a huge eye opener.
And that was all because I had a record of how far I had come.
As the old saying by C. S. Lewis goes;
“Isn’t it funny how day by day, nothing changes but when you look back everything is different?”.
Imposter syndrome is a curse but coming out the other side is a big fat blessing and one that can really give us the inner-confidence to push on and smash the back doors off whatever it is we have chosen to do with our lives.