- Imposter syndrome is inevitable but there are ways to combat and handle it.
- My top 2 strategies for handling self-crippling imposter syndrome
- Evidence-based imposter syndrome banishing techniques to calm your brain
It seems like no matter how old or experienced you get, you never really outgrow Imposter Syndrome. And it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how truly skilled you are at a thing.
It’s such a common problem, that I’ve started treating it like an almost-but-not-quite-charming thing my brain does to keep me alive. It’s in the same category of brain signals that include:
“Don’t go there, it might not be safe.”
“Don’t talk to that person. She’s smarter than you.”
“Don’t reach for things on high shelves. You might fall.”
And all manner of other not particularly useful things my brain tells me regularly… even though they’re not true.
And I have evidence that these comments aren’t true… namely, I’m nearly 6 feet tall.
The chances of me falling down while reaching for something on a high shelf are low.
“Thank you, Amygdala. I’m all set. Would you like a cookie?”
If you’ve read this far, you’ve already discovered my top 2 strategies for dealing with Imposter Syndrome:
Number 1: “What’s your evidence?”
Number 2: “Thanks for your advice, Brain. I appreciate you trying to keep me safe. Would you like a cookie?”
Those 2 strategies cover most circumstances.
But once in a while, I end up in the outer regions of, “How did I get HERE?! I’ve never done anything like this before. How long until someone discovers I have no idea what I’m doing?”
Not true, btw. But in the moment, it feels true.
That’s when I whip out my other Imposter Syndrome Banishment tools:
3- Proactive doubt. That sounds like this, “I doubt very much that what you’re saying is true.” I use this to loosen up my thinking.
Then, I add a healthy dose of, “SHOW ME YOUR EVIDENCE.”
At which point, Brain does this funny job of remembering all the times I was successful at the task in question, while trying to convince me those things never happened. It’s like imagining a pink elephant in the room, but in reverse. This cracks me up every time.
4- Charm. That sounds like this, “Dear Brain, You’re adorable. I love how you try to protect me. What other useful advice do you have.”
Then, I take notes. “Uh huh. Fear of heights. Uh huh. Water. Death. Frogs. Got it. Frogs, again? Nope. I already wrote that one down. You can’t say it twice.”
And I keep taking notes until the recurring thoughts stop.
I might keep taking notes on that one sheet of paper all week. This is useful, because sometimes I need to show Brain that we’ve already talked about a topic. I’ll circle it or underline it or make it bigger. Anything to show myself that the issues has been discussed, and therefore handled.
(My brain has a quirk where it thinks talking about a thing is the same thing as handling an issue. It’s not just me, btw. That’s why people buy info products they never use. It’s also why “shopping therapy” is a national pastime.)
5- Writing letters to myself. This is different from journaling or keeping a diary. It’s not a record of my days’ events.
It’s letters from one version of me to another version of me. Stuff like, “I saw what you did there. I respect that.”
Or, “I want you to this moment. I’m proud of you.”
Or, “Hey, well… that didn’t work out. Let’s make a plan for how to do it better.”
What does any of that have to do with Imposter Syndrome? Imposter Syndrome says you’re a fake and a fraud, and someone is going to find out.
2 things have to be present to make this strategy work.
1- A belief that you’re a fake.
2- A belief that someone will find out.
Most people know this unconsciously, so they’ll engage in one of two strategies for “fixing” the problem.
1- Work super duper, above and beyond, hard… even past the point where it makes sense.
2- Hide. No audience? No more problem.
This quickly leads to workaholism and social anxiety/avoidance.
This is the worst possible combination if you make your living online, whether as a service provider, freelancer, or coach.
It’s practically the antithesis to successful marketing practices. (Defined as: Doing smart, strategic things so that people can find you online and pay you for doing what you do best.)
The takeaway? Imposter Syndrome happens. It’s like the weather or the sun rising. It will likely always happen. The secret is to use your tools to flip the switch and get you back into a calmer state of mind.
You’re welcome to borrow my tools. They’re proven and they work. (Don’t actually eat the cookies, though. They’re no good for the waistline.)
What’s next: If you’d like to discover how a former 9th grade Algebra teacher/SAHM helps multi-million-dollar businesses increase sales with simple “teach for action” techniques, then go to www.9BuyerSystem.com