Behind many successful and not so successful people is a nagging, critical, inner voice telling us we are just not good enough. That destructive little naysayer is often the loudest and most convincing voice, talking us out of moving forward, taking the leap and believing in ourselves. This bad boy has a name and has aptly been identified as imposter syndrome. Most people will go a few rounds with this guy at some point in their lifetime, in fact, a quick internet search will bring up endless lists of highly successful people who have talked about their relationship with imposter syndrome.
People like Tina Fey, Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, Lady Gaga – the best of the best. Resoundingly, their thoughts and feelings about themselves oscillate between complete belief in their skills and talents and a fear of being found out as a fraud. You don’t need to be signing multimillion-dollar entertainment deals to know what that feels like. Keep reading for more on how to overcome imposter syndrome, according to a therapist.
What is Imposter Syndrome and How to Overcome It, According to a Therapist
For some people, their encounters with imposter syndrome may be fleeting, or occur at a volume that can be drowned out by the positive interactions and achievements or accolades that come their way. For others, the interaction can be far more lasting and damaging. How is it that this negative, disparaging commentary can have so much power and earn the most points in the mental votes we tally in our heads?
For so many people, and particularly women, this is the background noise in their own success and failures. It’s that inner critic saying, ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re not smart enough’, ‘you’re a fake’. This theme is also the common thread in the stories that celebrities have publicly shared of their own experiences with imposter syndrome, no matter how successful they are. All too often they would circle back to the sense or the fear that they will be found out as untalented or unworthy and ousted from their careers.
The fear that the truth will come out and the whole world will know that, actually, they can’t act or sing or run a successful business. Imposter syndrome’s power lies in the nagging belief that we’re not good enough. By allowing ourselves to believe the false narrative created by this wicked storyteller, we begin to believe it – line by line, chapter by chapter. For many, it’s this false narrative that makes it impossible to take the leap and become immersed in a new venture. We know that change can be scary enough, but it can become even scarier when we allow the seeds of self-doubt to bloom into forests of insecurity.
The aim for all of us is not to obliterate that inner critic and send it to live on another planet, although that would be nice, we just need to find a way to coexist, without giving it permission to take control and prevent us from trying new things. Acknowledge that it’s there, give it a little pat on the head and then march right past. So, how do we do that?
How to Get Past Imposter Syndrome
When that negative inner critic creeps in, take a moment and negotiate with it. ‘Okay, I know you’re there and you’re clearly not going away, but give me 10 minutes to do this task’ and immerse yourself in the doing, rather than in the second-guessing. Often when we throw ourselves into the thing that we are avoiding, we can distract ourselves just enough to actually get going.
If you find your self-doubt intensifying, ask yourself for the evidence. Is the belief founded? Or is it a grand scheme concocted by your self-doubt, that mischievous storyteller on a mission to sabotage any plans you might have had for taking the leap. Collect evidence to support the belief that you are good enough. Make a list of the people who believe in you, who have hired you, who listen to you.
Make a List of the Things You’re Doing
Make another list of all the things you are brilliant at, the things you have achieved, the milestones you have reached in your personal and professional life. That is the evidence that the imposter syndrome is trying to negate. Once you have identified which parts of your inner dialogue belong to imposter syndrome, collect the evidence that supports the opposite. Then fire that fraud-mongering cynic that is monologuing in the background and send it away to the furthest corner of your mind.
And remember, even the best of the best experience imposter syndrome. So, you must be doing alright!