What is imposter syndrome? It’s the mindset of doubting your abilities and feeling like you are not as capable as others. More specifically, you feel that you are incapable of performing well and fear that you will be exposed and rejected. This fear can lead to anxiety and lack of progress.
Be encouraged that you are not alone. At one time or another, most people experience these feelings – even highly successful people. But ultimately, they push through those feelings of doubt.
What’s the difference between those who persevere and those who get stuck? It’s not that successful people don’t feel fear, but they learn to redirect their negative thoughts. These are a few strategies that will help you overcome imposter syndrome:
Your feelings are worse than the facts. At times you may feel embarrassed that you made a mistake or didn’t have the right solution for a problem. These feelings of shame are internal, but many times people near you may not even notice that something went wrong. Your customers don’t see the mistake as a total failure so you shouldn’t feel that way either. Forgive yourself and try again next time.
Learn from your mistakes. Don’t see a shortfall as a failure; think of it as a learning experience. Mistakes are not confirmation that you’re incapable. They are opportunities to learn and gain experience. Think forward and recognize that lessons build confidence. Instead of beating yourself up, accept that you can’t change the past, and try to do better next time.
Confide in a friend. We can allow our doubts and fears to circle in our own heads forever, which only makes us feel worse. When imposter syndrome creeps in, confide in someone you trust. Tell them how you feel and you’ll be surprised at how much support and encouragement they will have to offer.
Accept your “differentness”. Many people feel imposter syndrome simply because they look different than others in their profession. This often applies to women, people of colour and people with disabilities. When you start to feel small, think of yourself as a trailblazer. Gain strength by knowing that you are clearing a path to bring in others like you in the future. One day you may even become a role model.
Balance negative and positive thoughts. When a negative thought enters your mind, practice adding a positive thought. For example, if you think “I’m not qualified”, think another thought. It may be as simple as flipping the negative thought and saying, “I was qualified enough to come this far”. It’s a way to quickly redirect your thoughts and stop dwelling on ideas that will make you feel discouraged.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Often, our feelings of inadequacy stem from the unreasonable expectations we put on ourselves. Start treating yourself with more compassion, as you would with someone you love. If your child made a mistake, you would encourage them by saying all is not lost. Do the same for yourself because you’re only human. Speak gently to yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s easy to compare our progress to someone else and feel terrible because our accomplishments don’t match up. But that’s not a fair comparison. There are dozens of variables that make their situation different from yours. Maybe they have access to more resources, or they have been working at it much longer. There are also factors that you don’t see. They may have had many painful struggles, which you would not like to experience. Focus on being the best version of yourself.
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If you’re ready to take the next step, book a meeting with an experienced Business Advisor at Small Business Centres Ontario. We have 54 offices across Ontario. Working with a Business Advisor means you are not alone and that you can get help to build your plan. Find a location near you.