How to fight Imposter Syndrome

September 13, 2019
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1. Recognize it for what it is

At its core, the imposter phenomenon is a desire to confirm your self-concept by keeping you entrenched in your comfort zone. Your sense of who you are and what you’re capable of is formed early in life. When you accomplish things after the bulk of your self-concept is formed, you tend to discount those accomplishments because they don’t match what you learned to believe about yourself early on. 

Because of this, you might discount the things you accomplish as adults because they don’t fit with the adolescent version of yourself. Simply put, imposter syndrome is a way for your mind to match what you do with who it thinks you are. 

2. Engage it directly

Like a demanding toddler, it will only get louder if you pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, simply acknowledge it exists and move ahead in spite of it. Each time you hear its words in your head, reply using one of these words or phrases: nevertheless, noted, however, perhaps, maybe, if you say so or in any event. For example, “Yes, I’m not as experienced as my competitor, nevertheless I’m doing it anyway.”

Other responses might sound like this:

You’re not good enough.
Perhaps, but I’m good enough to start.

You’ll never be good enough.
If you say so, but that’s not going to stop me.

You can’t possibly pull this off.
Nevertheless, watch me.

They’re going to discover you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Noted. I’m saying it anyway.

You’re going to fail, and everyone is going to laugh at you.
Maybe but this is totally happening.

3. Assume an alter ego

Todd Herman, author of The Alter Ego Effect, describes a technique to overcome fear and self-doubt. He asks his readers to try assuming the identity of someone they see as fully capable in order to achieve great things. It’s a powerful counter to the imposter phenomenon because it allows us to step outside of ourselves and behave “as if” we had embraced our accomplishments instead of diminished them.

4. Think back to when you were a kid

Let’s face it, as a child you were a heretic. Your job was to push all the boundaries, question everything, be ridiculously curious, ask “why” a lot and not take no for an answer. Every time you give in to the lies of your inner imposter, you lose your ability to fulfill your highest potential. As a business builder, it’s critical you identify when imposter syndrome takes hold so you can stop questioning your abilities, counter it effectively, and move forward with confidence.

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