I know nothing. What do I have to offer? I am not as good as any of the others.
Look at them, and how well they are doing, I see their posts constantly. Not like me, struggling to make it all work. Here I am, staring out of the window of my office again, a deep sigh. Not knowing what to do next, even though I have jobs to finish. Am I even cut out for this running-your-own-business stuff? Maybe I should get a job. I’ll probably fail at this anyway, so I may as well. They’ll find out soon enough that I’m no good at this, and I don’t actually know what I’m doing. I’m a fraud, really.
Does this sound vaguely familiar?
We all have these voices in our head. Some of us more than others. The annoying inner voice of the impostor syndrome. Or Bitchy Betty, as I call her. Yes, I have this inner critic too at times, especially when I push myself out of my comfort zone. When I launch a new offer (what will people think of it?). Or when I am asked to speak in public (“I’ll stumble over my words, mess up, and everyone will laugh at me!”) Yep. We all go through this, I promise. Even the most famous pop stars have stage fright. It is a normal fight or flight response in our brain, a protection mechanism, trying to save us from disaster. But we have a choice whether or not we listen.
The truth is, your inner voice would wrap you up in cotton wool if you let her. And nothing would ever change or improve in your life. Adventures are waiting, and right now, you have to tell that voice to shut up and hide in the background for you to come out and shine.
What can you do to combat the impostor syndrome?
First of all: accept that it is a normal feeling. Everyone has it, and it won’t go away completely. But you can learn how to rewire your brain to recognise when your inner critic pops up, and see it for what it is: a scaremongering storyteller. There are a number of ways to fight the impostor syndrome and feel more confident as an entrepreneur and creative.
- Change the story
- Recognise, accept, and let go
Change the story: celebrate how far you’ve come
Grab a note pad, and write down all of your self-limiting beliefs right now. Go on, do it.
All of the stories, get them out. From telling yourself you are not educated enough, don’t have the right certificates, not have an impressive CV, or not the right experience to show for it. The things you’ve done in your previous career were not very impressive, the projects you worked on were mainly completed by others. You were ‘just’ a (fill in the blank), you ‘only’ (fill in the blank), and you ‘are not really a’ (fill in the blank).
I bet you are coming up with heaps of junk. All kinds of stories in your head that you have been telling yourself for years, and have always somehow believed to be true. Stories that always pop up when you are embarking on something new that is slightly scary. Especially when you are making your new venture visible to others. You are not good enough. Not ready enough. Don’t even think that you would be able to make it a success. They will laugh at you.
Now. Change those stories.
On the next page of your note pad, try and rewrite those negative stories, now seeing them from a different angle. Put a positive spin on it, and try to see them as if they are someone else’s stories, not yours. How would you describe them then? For example, if you have written down that you haven’t got the right experience or CV to do what you are doing; look at it as if it is someone’s else’s CV: what makes this person brilliant at what they do? Formal certificates or not. How many people have you helped, and have told you that you are good at what you do? How many happy clients have you had so far? If you detach yourself a little, and make it less personal, as if you are describing a friend’s achievements, would you be as harsh as you are on yourself?
You are your own worst critic. If you had a friend telling you all their limiting self-beliefs, would you say to them:”Well yes, you are right – you are rubbish indeed, and if I were you, I wouldn’t even attempt it”. Or would you try and change your friend’s story, making them see it from a more positive angle? Make them feel more confident? Be that best friend for yourself.
Recognise, accept, and let go
The other way to deal with impostor syndrome, is to accept that it exists. That doesn’t mean though that we have to accept it as the truth, and throw in the towel. Like with any form of anxiety, in order to make it go away, or at least become less of an issue, is to recognise these feelings for what they are: feelings. Feelings and intrusive thoughts. They are not the truth. They are your own fabricated fear-mongering stories, to protect you from harm. But there is no harm. The chances of things going wrong are likely a lot smaller than the chances of you turning it into a success.
We all have self-doubts, inner critics, and stories that we tell ourselves. They are a normal part of the human brain. But when these voices become too dominant, they can really put the brakes on our own development, and stop us going after our dreams. When we keep believing the stories in our heads, and think success, wealth, amazing businesses, and fantastic lives are just not ‘for the likes of us’, and only available to other people, who are somehow more capable than us, then that is exactly what we will achieve: nothing. Mindset is everything, and when you change the stories in your head, real transformation will happen.
So accept the inner critic, but don’t take her seriously. Because you are more than capable. You are more than ready. You are more than worth it to achieve anything you want in life. Stop keeping yourself small, and start believing in yourself. Follow that fire in your belly, not the voices in your head. Your passion is your compass.
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