How to deal with imposter syndrome

December 22nd, 2021

Sam Eaton

Business Coach

impostor syndrome

noun

  1. the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

A lot of people suffer with imposter syndrome

‘Imposters’ are often high achieving, highly successful people. People who, from the outside, you’d think had it together and would be proud of all they had accomplished so far. But it’s likely they’re suffering from self-doubt and a sense of fraudulence that then overrides any of the positive feelings of their success.

Those feelings you have are not a true reflection of your skills, understanding, or ability. And what’s worse is that often the more you accomplish, the unhealthier those thoughts become.

A lot of people I work with have imposter syndrome creep. This is where IS creeps into the back of your mind and slowly it begins to undermine and distract you. It starts with recognising it in yourself or in others.

It’s the reason for thoughts such as:

“I had a good month… but it was a fluke”

“Wow, I wish I could be like them. I’d never be able to…”

“Everyone at work thinks I did great on that project, but I don’t deserve the praise because…”

The more you tell yourself these things, the quicker you start to believe them. The creeping thoughts turn into habits and when things become a negative habit, you’re setting yourself up for a loss.

Your thoughts end up turning from exactly that, thoughts, to real life manifestations of overthinking and negativity towards yourself. For example:

“I didn’t feel comfortable at…”

“I was out of my depth when…”

“I can’t handle that because…”

Once it becomes a reality, it’s a difficult mindset to escape from. It’s possible and I’ve helped a lot of business owners realise they are to thank for their own success, but after endless sleepless nights and full-scale anxiety, it can be a tough one to unpick.

So how do you overcome it when you feel it setting in? My first question whenever the emotion hits is “is it true?”

Is that thought, emotion or creeping feeling that you’re telling yourself is a fact even true? Did you get to where you are today because of one big fluke?! NO! Of course not. You did so off your own merits, your hard work, commitment, determination, and sacrifice. 

When you begin to separate the fact from the emotion then you’ll start to see your successes a little clearer. No, it’s not always easy, I get it! I’ve been there! And sometimes I have those thoughts creep in on occasion even now, but because I recognise the signs and feelings that are associated with IS, I know what steps to take to realise it’s a mind over matter situation.

I suggest keeping a diary. However you find easiest for you, whether that’s with a physical book or a space on your notes app, keep tab of your successes if you can. This will help you when you feel ‘the creep’ set in, it’s a reminder that you’ve got this – and it’s okay to have a bad day. 

Remember, it’s absolutely and unequivocally okay to walk away – sometimes it’s the best thing to do.

Michelle Obama once said, “I overcame that question the same way I do everything – with hard work… I decided to put my head down and let my work speak for itself. I felt like I had something to prove because of the colour of my skin and the shape of my body, but I had to get out of my own way.”

We all suffer from imposter syndrome at one point or another, even the people  look up to. 

So, stop being so hard on yourself and realise you’ve come this far and that’s something to be incredibly proud of. But if you want to talk about it further, you know where I am. 

Look after yourself, you are the most valuable asset of all. 

Sam.