Imposter Syndrome: How to Combat It

Do you have imposter syndrome? At one time or another, you’ve probably experienced it. I certainly have.

Most recently, imposter syndrome visited me — or haunted me? — when I released my first book, The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing, in November 2022.

It’s not that I doubted my writing talents; I’ve been a professional writer for longer than the Kardashian sisters have been around. Rather, I doubted my newly minted status as an “author.” Do I really belong in the category of “published author”?

Well, my mind toggled between “imposter syndrome” and “achiever syndrome” before and after the book came out.

Yes, I’m an achiever!

No, I’m an imposter!

Yes, I’m an achiever!

No, I’m an imposter!

Sound familiar?

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

So, what exactly is imposter syndrome? I know the general definition, and you might as well. But here’s a formal definition from PsychCentral:

Impostor syndrome is the false belief that you’re not qualified, capable, or deserving of success, achievements, or accomplishments. It’s when you feel like a fraud, even though you aren’t.

“Fraud” is a harsh word, but it fits.

Who Experiences Imposter Syndrome?

Surprisingly, a lot of folks you’d think would be supremely confident feel the effects of this syndrome. Case in point:

  • survey by market research firm InnovateMR showed that 65% of professionals experience this syndrome.
  • In a survey, 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners indicated they had moderate, frequent or intense levels of this syndrome. Kajabi, a platform that helps create online courses, conducted the survey.
  • survey by professional services firm KPMG found that three-fourths of female executives have experienced this syndrome during their careers.

What these survey results tell me is that I’m not alone in fearing the “fraud” label — and you’re not alone either.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or potion you can take to conquer imposter syndrome. But you can follow these seven tips to tackle it.

  1. Realize that your journey isn’t unique. As the survey statistics I cited demonstrate, many people like you and me are afflicted by this syndrome. This knowledge can help tame the beast.
  2. Embrace success. Take stock of your accomplishments, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Draw upon these experiences to help cultivate a positive mindset.
  3. Disconnect emotions from reality. Feelings of inadequacy can drag you down. But if you focus more on your strengths than your perceived weaknesses, you’ll come out ahead.
  4. Share your feelings. Discussing your thoughts — with a friend, a relative, a colleague — about this syndrome can serve as a form of therapy. Chances are that your “therapist” can offer feedback that boosts your morale and combats imposter syndrome.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over supposed weaknesses. Instead, treat yourself kindly, and remind yourself that no one is perfect.
  6. Get comfortable with discomfort. In life, we learn and grow when we confront challenges that aren’t necessarily easy to confront. Gaining confidence by fearlessly approaching discomfort can help zap imposter syndrome.
  7. Don’t rush it. Getting past this syndrome won’t happen in an instant. It may take weeks, months or even (gulp!) years to corral this syndrome. Along the way, be sure to celebrate the small success.

Stripping It Down

Am I entirely satisfied with the success of my book? No. Perhaps some of this stems from imposter syndrome. However, imposter syndrome no longer engulfs me. After all, I am a published author. And that’s something worth reveling in. For me, this syndrome won’t ever vanish. But at least I’ve got it in check. And you can do the same. You’re not an imposter — you’re impressive!

So, what are your thoughts about imposter syndrome? Be sure to share them with me!

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