Imposter Syndrome: The Lies You Tell
The Lies You Tell
Almost six months ago to the day, I quit my six-figure job to start my own business. I’m just going to get to the point; I’ve been suffering from the worst case of imposter syndrome as I launch. Imposter syndrome is when a person has a pattern of doubting their accomplishments and a persistent fear of people discovering that they are a fraud.
I don’t fear that I’ll be discovered as a fraud, but more so, that I will have nothing to say or that no one will care to listen. I literally ask myself, “who do you think you are?”
For others, they may not believe they are deserving of the accolades they get. They don’t think they’re nearly as smart or equipped as others in their field. Most debilitating is the idea that you’re one mistake away from everyone seeing through your facade.
But, after several weeks of TED talks, research, trial and error, and venting to my friends, I think I’ve figured out the secret sauce to working through imposter syndrome.
The key to keeping imposter syndrome at bay, is to recognize how it manifests for you. Are you pouring yourself over every detail before every move? Are you so afraid to fail, you can’t even get started? Are you insulting or diminishing your own capacity? Identifying the behavior will help you implement the right strategy.
When I’m procrastinating, I repeat to myself, “don’t think, just do” and It helps me get started. If you agree to just start working on something for five minutes, you’re more likely to see it through.
Mel Robbins (love her!), suggests you jump right into what scares you or what you’re avoiding after counting down from five. Five-four-three-two-one-GO!
Both strategies are about getting out of the cycle of overthinking, so you can be present with the task at hand.
Call It Out
You are hardwired for self-preservation. Because your brain is programmed to avoid imminent danger, you tell yourself stories to keep you safe from judgement and the possibility of failure. You have to recognize when you’re telling yourself heavily embellished stories for the bullshit that they are. Ask yourself for solid evidence that supports your beliefs.
This is the tricky part though. When you deeply believe something about yourself, you are going to find the evidence that supports it. That doesn’t make it true, but rather, it is your perception from your point of pain. That pain can be your doubt, fear, vulnerability and you find evidence that triggers your brain to protect you. Sometimes, you just need someone else to present a different perspective from an objective point of view. This helps see things in ways that do not come naturally for you and you can start looking for evidence to support the new perspectives as possibilities.
What’s the alternative?
I think about the alternative when I’m in the depths of, “WTF am I doing?” When you’re right in the middle of thinking “I’m not good enough”, you have to follow it up with, “What are my other options?”
The truth is you can continue to wait until you feel like you’re good enough and let opportunities pass you by. Or you can dive in and get good enough as you go along. Let’s be real, failure is inevitable and a key ingredient to success. The key is to have a willingness to learn in the face of potential failure.