How to handle impostor syndrome

(And why there is nothing wrong with you)

As a creative entrepreneur, it’s likely that you’ve experienced feelings of self-doubt at some point in your career. You may have felt undeserving of the success and recognition you’ve received, or believed that you’re not as talented or capable as others perceive you to be. This phenomenon is known as impostor syndrome, and it’s a common experience among many successful individuals, especially those in creative fields. Here is how to handle impostor syndrome, when you experience it.

Impostor syndrome is characterized by persistent feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, despite evidence to the contrary. It can manifest in a variety of ways, such as feeling like a fraud or fearing that you’ll be exposed as a fake (surely, they will find out I know NOTHING!). It’s often accompanied by negative self-talk and an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress.

Reasons for having impostor syndrome

So, why do so many creative entrepreneurs experience impostor syndrome? One reason is that the creative industry is highly competitive, and success is often subjective. And not just creative practitioners experience impostor syndrome, many other solo entrepreneurs like coaches, go through the same emotions of not feeling food enough.

Creative entrepreneurs may feel pressure to constantly produce new and innovative work, leading to feelings of inadequacy when they’re unable to meet their own expectations. Coaches may feel pressured into launching new offers all the time. Or they feel inadequate for not actually booking that many clients yet (guess what: this too is normal!).

faceless woman with cardboard box on head against pond
Photo by Ryanniel Masucol on

How to handle impostor syndrome: Five tips

The key to overcoming impostor syndrome is to recognise it for what it is: a common experience that many successful individuals face. Understanding that these feelings are normal can help you work through them and prevent them from holding you back in your career.

Here are some tips for creative entrepreneurs who may be struggling with impostor syndrome:

  1. Recognize your accomplishments

When you’re feeling self-doubt, it’s easy to focus on your perceived shortcomings and dismiss your accomplishments. Take some time to reflect on your achievements and the obstacles you’ve overcome. Write them down or talk about them with a trusted friend. Recognizing your successes can help you build confidence and remind you of your capabilities.

  1. Reframe negative thoughts

Negative self-talk can feed into impostor syndrome and make you feel worse about yourself. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, try reframing those thoughts into more positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I’m a fraud,” try thinking “I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, and I deserve this success.”

  1. Remember that nobody’s perfect

It’s important to remember that nobody’s perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Even successful creative entrepreneurs have had their share of failures and setbacks. Learning from those experiences can help you grow and improve, rather than dwelling on them and feeling inadequate.

  1. Seek support

Talking to others who are going through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful when dealing with impostor syndrome. Consider joining a support group or seeking out a mentor who can provide guidance and advice. Just knowing that you’re not alone can be a powerful motivator.

  1. Practice self-care

Self-care is essential for combating stress and anxiety. If you want to learn how to handle impostor syndrome, start by loving yourself a little more. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep and eating well. Also don’t forget to engage in activities that bring you joy. When you feel good physically and emotionally, you’re better equipped to tackle challenges and overcome self-doubt.

Impostor syndrome is a challenging experience, but it’s not insurmountable. Recognizing your accomplishments, reframing negative thoughts, remembering that nobody’s perfect, seeking support, and practicing self-care, are great ways to combat impostor syndrome. You can overcome these feelings and continue to thrive as a creative entrepreneur.

Need a coach who gets you through this?

I help creative entrepreneurs and small business owners feel more confident in running their business, and create structure and clarity. I work 1:1 for up to 6 months, or in one 90-minute Power Session.

Nina Eggens business coach
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