Dealing With Imposter Syndrome


Time to get real on something that I know is an issue for a lot of entrepreneurs…

Feeling like a fraud.

Now I’m not talking about doing anything shady or illegal.

But the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that go hand in hand with imposter syndrome.

Now if you’re wondering what the heck imposter syndrome is and wondering if you have it, let me fill you in.

Imposter syndrome is a belief that you’re no good, you’re inadequate and incompetent. That your successes aren’t deserved or that they are a fluke or a product of luck or chance.

It is this persistent inner dialogue that says “OMG I’m a fraud and everyone is going to work it out”.  Or “I do not belong here, what the f*** am I thinking”. Or “how can I ever say I’m an expert if I make a mistake”.

Imposter Syndrome actually has NOTHING to do with experience. It’s an attack on the confidence to back your experience.

It can lead you to discount the praise you get from others. Make the assumption that any compliments you receive an insincere st a total lie.

You may undermine your achievements (in case someone else is about to beat you to the punch).

Perhaps, its a struggle with perfectionism. This one is huge for me (check out my blog on the curse of perfectionism). This is how my imposter syndrome often shows up. I have been quick in the past to focus on the flaws that I miss the successes and then doubt that I’m where I’m supposed to be. 

Or you may experience imposter syndrome as a fear of failure. Giving up before you even try…cause no doubt you were going to fail anyway right.

I remember making the move from being an Online Business Manager to an Online Business Strategist and Course Creation Expert. That period of time was one big imposter syndrome fest. My internal chat was chaotic. I told myself “who are you to think that you can teach people anything”?  And “what makes you think that ANYONE will want to work with you when they could work with xxx”? Or “you’ll never be able to compete with the likes of XXX, they know what they’re doing and you are a FRAUD.

The first time someone asked me about my business after I made the transition, I could barely answer. I must have sounded like a fool stumbling over my words, not being able to tell them what I do…

Because in my mind I was telling myself to shut up. Don’t say it! That they’d question me straight away on what right did I have to think that I could call myself a ‘coach’.

I hadn’t even started and I was already stopping…

Thinking I was not good enough…

That I had been caught out and everybody knew that I was a total fake.

Fortunately, I reached out to someone I trusted and let them know how I was feeling. She didn’t judge how I was feeling, didn’t tell me I was being ridiculous, didn’t even tell me that I was right! She simply asked me four questions…

Is there evidence to support that you know what you’re doing…well, yes!

Have you helped people with this area before…yes, loads.

Do you know how to do this…YES!!!

Do you know more about this area than the people you’re going to be working with? Yes, I do.

As I answered her I could feel my confidence starting to build again, the doubt starting to reduce. I wasn’t a fake, or a fraud. I had a right to where I was…to call myself a coach. I know what I’m doing and I know that I can make a huge difference in my client’s businesses.

Now, I wish I could say that was it. That moment was enough to never experience another second of doubt or inadequacy in my business. That I haven’t felt like an imposter since then.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case…I still struggle with it.

But I do have some strategies to deal with it.

Firstly, recognise those imposter thoughts and feelings as they turn up. Being aware of them is the first step to tackling them.

Separate feelings from facts. Just because you feel like you’ve failed, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Feeling useless doesn’t mean you are useless.

Talk about how you’re feeling. Letting someone in on these thoughts can help you to shift them in another direction.

Look at failure as a learning opportunity. Don’t let the failures and the mistakes stop you from achieving going after your dreams. Find the lesson in the failure and use it in the future. Remember, being wrong doesn’t make you a fake!

Don’t be so freaking hard on yourself. You can make mistakes, and you’re allowed to forgive yourself when you make them.

Remember that being an expert doesn’t mean that you have to know EVERYTHING. It means that you know more than the people that need your help.

Celebrate your successes! Receive the praise and the accolades, the compliments and appreciation. Don’t doubt that you are deserving of your successes and that what people are saying to you is TRUTH!

Remember that it’s not uncommon to have these feelings of self-doubt. You are not alone in those feelings…I 100% know this to be a fact. Some incredibly high-profile women have expressed how imposter syndrome has plagued them.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” – Maya Angelou

“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this.  I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett

You’re like ‘I don’t belong here and everybody’s lying to me,’ and you feel like you’ve put the wool over everyone’s eyes, and then everyone’s going to find out you’re a huge hack. – Jennifer Lawrence

“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’ Meryl Streep

And finally, realise that not showing up and doing what you’re meant to be doing is robbing people of your awesomeness. You have something to share, something to say, something to do. Letting the fear of looking like a fake hold you back means somewhere, someone is struggling with something that YOU can fix. You may be doing the same thing as someone else, but there is only one YOU and they can’t do it the way YOU do.

You are enough lovely, and I believe in you!!


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