Simple Strategies to Beat Self Doubt
Practical Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Let’s Talk About Self-Doubt
Imposter syndrome: the fine art of doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. Who among us haven’t at some point thought, “who am I to… fill-in-the-blank?”
As I approach the publication date of my next book, I find myself experiencing all of my typical pre-doing-anything-big anxiety, so the subject seemed timely. Read on for some simple strategies I use to ease feelings of self-doubt when they inevitably crop up.
Recognize That You’re Not Special
You are, really. But experiencing self-doubt is the most normal thing in the world. It’s almost like breathing. I’ve met and worked with some of the most successful people on earth, and I can report that none of them are immune from deep feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. In fact, imposter syndrome disproportionately affects high achievers and wildly successful people.
For me, knowing that self-doubt is just part of the human condition makes it feel much less alarming. Exhale, you’re in good company.
Break Up With the Compare and Despair Cycle
In the age of the seemingly endless social media scroll, it’s far too easy to compare your own vulnerabilities and challenges with other people’s glossy highlight reels. The truth is that the shiny, happy images we see on social media (and even sometimes in real life) are a mere sliver of reality.
Case in point: I recall posting a professional photo of myself beaming on Instagram to promote a new program launch while huddled in a blanket weeping because my uncle had unexpectedly passed away. My advice? Focus on setting your own metrics for happiness and success, and remember that everyone has their own private struggles and realities you probably know nothing about.
Remind Yourself You’re Being Brave
Discomfort, including anxiety, self-doubt, and feelings of imposter syndrome, crop up when you step outside of your comfort zone, attempt something new, or take a risk. Starting a business, asking for a raise, or even asking someone on a date all require a tremendous amount of courage. Since our brains are wired to keep us safe and out of harm’s way, they do not like it at all when you venture out to pursue anything perceived as risky. Think of imposter syndrome as your brain’s well intended attempt to keep you safe and protected.
Feel It, and Keep Going
Since we know that imposter syndrome and self-doubt are all just part of the ride, the most important thing is to allow discomfort to arise and take action anyway. I’ve found myself in the fetal position more times than I can count on the way toward conquering a big scary goal like publishing a book or giving a talk to thousands of people. Now I just remind myself this is just part of my process: Oh, here’s the part where I just want to curl up in a ball and plow through a pint of ice cream. That’s just my brain trying to keep me safe. Onward!
When you choose to stay the course in spite of feeling self-doubt, anxiety, or imposter syndrome, you will build resilience and trust with yourself. You will become unstoppable.
Surround Yourself with Support
One of the best ways that I’ve found to combat imposter syndrome is to identify people who truly have your back, and who will help build you up and cheer you on when you’re feeling the most vulnerable. Often friends and family members don’t want you to get hurt, so they might have a hard time encouraging you to step outside of the box. That’s okay. If you need to hear it from anyone, you can hear it from me: I believe in your ability to do brave new things, even if they make you want to run and hide. You’ve got this.
Friends! My new book Organized Living is out October 3rd. Pre-order now from your favorite bookseller or (bonus!) get a signed, personalized copy when you order from Mrs Dalloway’s (my favorite independent bookshop).
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson