Feel like a fraud? How to handle "Imposter Syndrome"
First of all: YOU'RE DOING GREAT. How do I know? Because you're here reading this blog looking for answers on how to do right by yourself AND your business. Showing up is no small potatoes and I applaud you!
BUT you're also here because, well...you don't FEEL like you're doing great. In fact, sometimes you feel like a fraud and like you have no idea what you're doing. Honestly, SO DO I! (Why do you think I decided to write this post?!). But we are NOT alone- not by a long shot.
In fact, we're so not alone that there's even a psychological phenomenon named after what we're feeling. It's called "IMPOSTER SYNDROME".
But the GREAT NEWS is that there are so many (super easy, non-intimidating, non-"therapy"-feeling) tools you can use to get over your imposter syndrome and starting owning your worth. Keep reading to find out what MY TOP 5 WAYS OF DEALING WITH IMPOSTER SYNDROME are so you can start implementing them into your work and life: Because the world deserves to hear what you have to say!
IMPOSTER SYNDROME was originally defined as:
"A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". AKA a constant ticker-tape of thoughts that sound like:
I have no idea what I'm doing
Why would anyone want to hear what I have to say
I'm not that interesting
I'm not making (enough) money from it, so it's not a "real job"
I only have X number of followers
Any sentence that contains the words "NOT ENOUGH"
Sound familiar? Yeah, DITTO.
The thing is, one of the key elements of setting yourself up as a successful business is establishing yourself as an expert in your field. People want to hire you because you provide knowledge, a service, or a product that will help them makes their lives easier/better/more fulfilling/profitable...you get it. But when we hear the word "expert", we have a little panic attack in our brains and tell ourselves the story that there's no way we're an "expert" at anything because we actually feel like we have no idea what we're doing.
Let me tell you a little story about how I re-framed the meaning of "expert" for myself and moved from feeling like a fraud, to seeing myself as having something valuable to contribute. And the only thing that changed was the way I thought about myself and my business.
#1: YOU ONLY NEED TO KNOW 10% MORE ABOUT A THING THAN SOMEONE ELSE IN ORDER TO TEACH THEM SOMETHING
I have this friend who is a shining example to me of someone who is a self-made LADYBOSS. She started out blogging when we were in college, got in on the social media game early, and turned her online presence into a 6-figure copywriting and social media consulting business. Oh, and in the meantime she also became a certified yoga instructor, lived on 3 different continents, got married to the love of her life, and had a perfect Angel-Baby. This super-accomplished friend also occasionally suffers from Imposter Syndrome, BUT she deals with it in the most productive way...
When I started this copywriting business with literally nothing but my brain and my laptop, I reached out out to her for advice. At the time I was WAY under-charging people and she asked me why I had such a hard time asking for more money when I was doing valuable work. I had a TON of excuses about why I hadn't raised my rates, most of them boiling down to something along the lines of: "I don't know everything about this subject so why would anyone look to me as an expert?"
Her response has stuck with me ever since. She said, "Kelsey, you don't have to be one of the foremost experts in your field. You just have to know at least 10% more than someone else to be able to gift them with valuable information they don't have yet."
I don't have to know EVERYthing! Sharing what I DO know is actually super valuable! I only have to know at least 10% more that the other person in order to hep them!
Whenever I start to feel like a fraud, I just remember that statistic. Because...
#2: REMEMBER: EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE
It can be so easy to compare yourself to someone else who already has the life/career/dream that you want for yourself. I'll stay with this story of my Ladyboss copywriter friend. If I look at where I am compared to where she is, I would go nuts. BUT if I remember that she also started from scratch (just like every other person out there) and slowly built her business over the course of 8 years, it makes me feel a lot calmer about where I'm at in my "year one".
You can only start from where you are. You know more than you think you do. Just start and do the next right thing...and then do the next right thing...and the next...and the next...Don't worry about everything having to be "perfect" before you leap. Speaking of which...
#3: ACKNOWLEDGE & EMBRACE IMPERFECTION
Spoiler alert: it's NEVER going to be perfect. Perfection does not exist. And yet, it's no accident that imposter syndrome and perfectionism go hand in hand! That feeling of "never being enough" feeds right into "I'm not worth it" and "I'm a fraud".
So rather than trying to make things Perfect-With-A-Capital-P, try to acknowledge that you're doing the best you can with the resources you have at any given moment. The first step is accepting it will never be perfect. That's just a fact. The second step is embracing that imperfection...if it can never be perfect, you don't have to stress about imperfection! Let yourself off the hook!
#4: REPLACE PESSIMISM WITH GRATITUDE
When you're in an "imposter syndrome" spiral, it can be a scarily slippery slope from "fraud" thoughts to downright self-loathing. Anytime you're starting to feel pessimistic about what you're doing and where you're headed, start listing things you're grateful for.
Okay, I know, this sounds like something you'd hear in a cheesy TEDtalk, but it really works. Instead of thinking "I don't deserve X", change the thinking to: "I'm really grateful for X". For example, if you land a big new client, instead of thinking "I'm not worth the money they're paying me", think "I'm so grateful they trust my expertise enough to pay me such a generous amount."
#5: MAKING YOURSELF SMALL DOESN'T SERVE YOU OR THE WORLD
A favorite go-to account/person/site I visit when I need inspiration is Marie Forleo. Allllll over her site, she has the simple but oh-so-true message that "The World NEEDS that special gift that only YOU have."
And it's true! Simply by being you, you are already valuable because of your unique set of experiences, knowledge, and skills. You don't have to do/change a thing. You're already enough.
So any time you find yourself minimizing your accomplishments, becoming uncomfortable with praise, or feeling like a big fat fake, remember that those thoughts are just your fear trying to keep you safe from disappointment.
But you were made for more than "safe".
You were made for living a full, joyous life of abundance and prosperity.
If you need a little extra inspiration, print out this super famous (& always relevant) quote from Marianne Williamson and put it near your workspace. Or on your phone lock screen. Or on your bathroom mirror. (Or all 3). Don't worry about the word "God" (you can switch it up for "universe" or "the world"- it's all the same thing in my opinion). Just sink your teeth into the sentiment that you are meant to SHINE, just as you are.