I have struggled with Imposter Syndrome since I can remember. I know this because my relationship with my accomplishments has always been and felt complicated. Since childhood, down to the smallest awards, I always felt genuinely in shock and very anxious about receiving recognition. Though I worked very hard within the subjects of my interest, I rehearsed, practiced, and studied heavily prior to getting those awards and recognitions— I still felt like the person recognizing me was making a mistake.
I struggled to simply say “Thank you,” when I received compliments, they often made me feel uncomfortable and I felt a need to deflect them instead. More often than not, I had an inclination that the person was ‘just being nice,’ had an ulterior agenda, or otherwise just being untruthful because there was no way the compliment was authentically deserved.
I remember certain accomplishments from high school like becoming cheer captain and homecoming queen. I was so excited about these roles, but ultra intimidated by them as well because I didn’t believe I deserved them or could perform them to standard. In cheer, I worked incredibly hard— I tirelessly created new dances and cheers, I relentlessly motivated our team, I was kind to everyone and acted as a mediator where we struggled, and I was happy to work with the new members to improve, and yet- when I was approached with the idea of being captain, I felt terrified. When I was voted homecoming queen by my school, I wondered how that many people could put my name down— there’s no way I could be so well-liked. In fact, I often felt like an outsider and a fraud.
I never allowed myself to internalize my accomplishments the same way I would my rejections and failures. There was always a voice inside of me saying, “don’t get too excited now, don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t get a big head,” and I thought this way because, my successes must be dumb-luck or some sort of accident, maybe I fooled someone (or many people,) and eventually, inevitably, I would be found out as totally incompetent and false.
And I know I struggle with imposter syndrome because I work like a leader, but never ask to lead. I have been blessed to enter many leadership roles in my professional life, but I rarely entered them intentionally or strategically. It was always because my manager recognized my work and my attitude, and pursued leadership for me. I am so grateful for the people in my life that have done this— mentored me dedicatedly, pushing and nudging me into a pair of shoes that fit, but again, I have always felt terrified to see myself in bigger roles with bigger responsibilities, handling bigger successes (and with that, potentially bigger failures.)
And it’s interesting to be where I am now with my creative projects: this blog, my social media, my book and artwork, and to see how each of those outlets has attracted even more amazing opportunities and connections, and still— I feel like I’m somehow fooling people into offering me these opportunities. Still, praise is something I humanly crave so badly after my trying efforts, but I struggle to really accept it on a deep level when I receive it.
For a long time, I simply succumbed to my imposter syndrome, I avoided “big roles” as long and as often as possible, I tried my best to be small, I continued to reject the natural feeling of pride after accomplishment, and I didn’t want to claim to be anyone or anything— because I didn’t want to be called out for being nothing instead.
But I see now:
- How easy it’s always been for me to accept criticism as truth, but see praise as fluff, either insincere or untrue.
- How I suppress feelings of pride and confidence, always humbling myself back down to ground zero.
- How I have sabotaged opportunities for myself, big and small, by hiding away, deciding I am not ready, deciding I am undeserving.
- How I have disqualified myself from doing or sharing certain things because I am not “perfect” or an expert.
- How I always fear that I am not doing enough, not doing good enough, and will eventually be exposed as a fraud.
Imposter syndrome comes out in many ways, if you’re familiar with the blog, then you know I am a workaholic in recovery, a perfectionist in recovery, and I am constantly managing anxiety.
It’s the feeling that you need to work 2 and 3 times as hard as anyone else. It’s the feeling of picking apart everything you do, even when it’s positively received. It’s the debilitating hesitation to try new things or put yourself in the open because you feel like someone will see through you.
If you identify with these tendencies, then you’re probably wondering what you can do to diminish imposter syndrome and start stepping into your full potential with ease and self-security.
There are many things I have done to challenge my imposter syndrome.
In this blog, I want to give you a couple of mindset tips that have helped me, as well as some hearty affirmations to reflect on as truth when you feel clouded in self-doubt.
1. Know who you value feedback from.
Imposter Syndrome often revolves around fear of judgment and rejection. Being someone who comes from deeply insecure and socially anxious roots, for me to show up as a creator/influencer on Instagram, make videos, and write personal blogs- I’ve found each of these actions uniquely horrifying, to say the least. I was always waiting for the trolls to inform me of just how “not cut out for this” I really was. And when you put yourself out there, the truth is, you absolutely take that risk. I can say it doesn’t come at the rate/volume your anxiety tells you it will, nowhere near, but the hate and negativity will come.
I used to get really set back by those rejections, the “I told you so,” alarm would go off in my head- I am exposed, I am terrible, and I am humiliating myself, and this person was the one who saw it. But really, why was I valuing the opinion of bbunny9897 with no posts or profile picture? And otherwise, why did I care when someone I hadn’t spoken to in several years gives me some weird, backhanded comment on my photo? The old coworker who never liked me? The toxic family member I never got along with? The frenemy from high school?
Why was literally anyone and everyone allowed into what should be a sacred space of voices I truly listen to and value?
Read that back one more time if you need to. It sounds ridiculous when you think about it, right? It absolutely is.
Reassess and determine who’s feedback you are really going to take into consideration. This should only include people who you know would only give you critique from a place of love, people who understand you and your vision, people who understand and remind you of your values, and are nothing but genuinely happy when you succeed. Now, that will be and should be a very small list. Gatekeep that list well.
When you get bad energy, rejection, hurtful judgment from anyone outside of that list, imagine yourself taking what they said, quickly crumbling it up, and flicking it into the trash to never be seen again. Seriously. So mute, block, ignore, and “okay,” those people out of your physical space and your headspace. You don’t need to waste any energy to change their opinion. They didn’t make the list.
Here’s a quote from Brene´Brown, Dare to Lead that I love:
2. Keep a good record of all the good things.
I’ve seen and done this in a few ways, but essentially, create a folder or a space to collect your positive feedback and records of accomplishments. When you make an amazing post and someone tells you much it resonated with them, or how thankful they were for your creation, screenshot it and save it! When you do something for the first time and it goes well, save that memory! When you accept an award and you smile big for a picture, keep that picture. When a friend tells you in private how valuable you are to them, or how you encourage, inspire or motivate them without even knowing, save a record of that. Don’t let yourself discard and forget these things. Remember that they happened and come back to them for encouragement, reaffirmation and joy. Do this again and again and again. This brings me to tip 3…
3. Practice pride. Practice being happy for yourself.
When you do a good job at something, say it out loud.
“Wow, I killed that.”
“Wow, I handled that really well.”
“Wow, all that effort really made something truly beautiful, I created/contributed to that.”
“Wow-I am really good at this.”
No one has to hear it but you, but say it. When you start to feel that sense of pride after finishing a project or doing a job well done, don’t resist or suppress that feeling. Swell up in it. Be happy. Feel the joy. Feel yourself stepping upward and forward in your craft and abilities. When you get a compliment, just say thank you/ thank you so much and leave it at that. If someone took the time to say it, honor them by taking their word for it. Stop deflecting love, praise, and recognition. Welcome it with open arms. Remember how hard you worked, and allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor unapologetically. Let the joy in as often and as much as you can. Acquaint yourself with these good, deserving feelings and practice allowing and feeling them.
Making mindset changes is all about practice and repetition, stay dedicated to diminishing your imposter syndrome daily, in every scenario where it appears. Here are some affirmations to consider as well. (you can pin these as well if you have any inspiration boards on Pinterest! Every image on the blogs should show a red icon in the top left when you hover over it.)
A huge part of my healing journey lately has been confronting imposter syndrome, and it’s such a deeply imbedded habit, I admit it’s been difficult to overcome. It still shows up all of the time. But when I ground myself in the above tips and affirmations, I remember who’s opinions count (and who’s doesn’t,) and how I am okay just how I am, and just where I’m at. In fact, I am reminded that my “weak spots” aren’t weak spots at all. The beginners mind is an amazing place to be. Not only can you contribute in any space you choose, but you can innovate.
So much in life can be unlocked by getting out of our own way. I promise, being on your own side will change the game in everything you do. I’ve got your back, too.
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