First of all, what is impostor syndrome? Impostor Syndrome, according to Forbes involves:
Having to live with the nagging feeling of being "found out" as not being talented, or deserving, or experienced, or (fill-in-the-blank) as people think is a common phenomenom.
Although I'm not a mental health expert, I know so many bright, creative people that face the imposter syndrome struggle a lot. Did I mention I sometimes feel it too? I'm not the only one either! Approximately 70% of people have imposter syndrome.
So how do you cope when that nagging feeling starts gnawing away at you, while quietly whispering the words:
Guess what? You're not good enough!
If that feeling sounds way too familiar, then here's some good news: today I'm going to show you how to kick imposter syndrome's ass.
1)Talk to someone that really gets you
Because imposter syndrome is such a hot topic, everyone seems to have a take on it. Yet, the one thing that I think people have overlooked is the value of just plain talking to someone that really understands all the things that make you well...you.
Pick someone that can see through all the bullshit. In other words, the type of the person that's not afraid to speak their mind while being sensitive to you and your needs. Someone that will actually help you find new ideas that will move you forward.
If they really get you then they'll make observations about you, that you would have never made on your own. They might even help you find the perfect solution, or at least make you feel loved and supported.
2) Get away from the computer for a little while and go outside
Your metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting.
If you're starting to question your own worth, sometimes it could be as simple as you really, really need some fresh air.
If your focus dies, and your inner critic starts to kick in, take a break, and walk or run somewhere close by. Or do some stretches. Or move your legs for a little while. Or take your work outside.
No matter how you chose to get some fresh air, change up your environment a bit. Why? Because weirdly enough the guy from The Shining has a really good point:
I can't guarantee that going outside for a while, and getting some air, will cure your imposter syndrome. However I've often found is that a bit of fresh air can do wonders for a blocked, negative mindset.
3) Turn your respect for others into valuable connections
One of the most dangerous and enticing habits for freelancers is the temptation to compare and contrast. A saying that perfectly describes just how dangerous comparing yourself to others really is, is the following:
Comparision is the thief of dreams and productivity.
Often, I've found that I get better opportunities if I treat other freelancers like allies rather than competition. In fact, when I stopped comparing myself to others, I got the chance to guest blog for everywhere from the ProBlogger to the Freelancer FAQs communities.
Not to mention, what I wrote was so popular that my website traffic steadily increased. To this day, I still promote the work of other bloggers on my social media networks, because the results are really worth it. For instance, here are a few from bloggers who were stocked to see my retweets:
As you can see, this is an industry where karma actually goes a long way. Most of the blog posts that I share are written by bloggers that I respect, and read on a regular basis.
I spread the word, instead of assuming they're somehow better than me. And guess what? All of the above bloggers are still some of my most actively engaged followers!
3) Always remember that everyone is different
On paper, someone might have more experience in your field, managed to snag a writing sample for a major publication that rejected you multiple times in a row, etc. But never forget that this is just how they are on paper.
The truth is, no matter what everyone is different. Everyone has different connections, different backgrounds, and different takes on whatever they happen to specialize in.
Chances are you've heard about overnight successes but the reality is that they're a myth. I don't read Huffington Post because I'm kind of iffy about their business model. However, one of the few times when I read Huffington Post and loved it was when I found this great quote on why we love the idea of overnight success:
In our age of instant gratification and "accidental" billion dollar start-ups, it's easy to think of success as more of a product of luck than hard work and determination.
We work so hard to pay for material things. Go to school. Pay for food, water, and shelter. Overnight success is just "a nice idea" that people want to cling to. But it's not that easy.
There's always a reason why someone achieved a specific goal. Good things that are worth fighting for take time.
4) Do something creative
A great way to handle imposter syndrome is to resort to something creative. The best part of this strategy is the fact that it might even help you come up with new insights.
You don't have to be good at it or show your work to anyone. For instance, I've kept a diary since I was a kid, and it's a tool that I swear by.
However, it doesn't even have to be a diary. You can sing a song, or draw a picture, or basically anything that counts as a creative pursuit. Creativity fuels further creativity, and further creativity will help you work through your emotions.
5) Take care of yourself
When imposter syndrome kicks in, it can sometimes because of stress or burnout. Why? Because long work hours can cause less productivity especially in creative fields.
In fact, a study was released, which revealed that the most productive nations in the world have the shortest work weeks.
As soon as negativity kicks in, do whatever you can to make time for something you love doing for fun. Taking care of yourself can often make a huge difference.
As soon as imposter syndrome kicks in, pay close attention to what was happening in your life when you started to feel that way.
Use tools like pro and con lists and talk through your feelings with others. If you combine these strategies you'll likely increase your chances of conquering imposter syndrome, and all of its challenges.
Over to you...
So..what are your imposter syndrome coping methods? Have you ever experienced it before? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.