A Practical Way To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

imposter syndrome

Do you ever think, “who cares about anything that I have to say?”

Every time you have a similar thought like that, you’re developing imposter syndrome. There are many ways imposter syndrome expresses itself in your mind:

  • “If I fail this, I will lose everything.”
  • “What if people call me out?”
    “I feel like a fake. I’m not the right person to talk about this.”

After these type of thoughts, we often try to downplay the effects:

  • “It’s not a big deal.”
  • “No one cares anyway.”
  • “It’s a matter of luck, anyway.”

Those secondary thoughts are just a defense mechanism. We try to convince ourselves that our work isn’t important and that no one cares. We experience imposter syndrome when we have to lead people, share our ideas, give advice, etc.

And it’s more common than you think. Over 70% of people have experienced the feeling of being a fake at one time in their life. Recently I got this email from a reader:

“I have many ideas for creating passive income around email courses, ebooks and interactive learning, but I am absolutely terrified of exposing myself and content online.

I am worried that I will sound egotistical and that my content will be ridiculed. I also get performance anxiety when using social media (so I quit them), and when I used group chat channels on slack I end up saying things without thinking them through or over thinking them because I am so nervous that people are thinking that I’m an idiot.

Darius, have you ever experienced these issues and if so how have you overcome them?”

My answer is YES.

If you haven’t experienced the above, you’re an absolute maniac. In fact, I think there are a lot of narcissistic assholes on the internet who think they should create 5000 pieces of content per day.

A lot of people think they are the center of the universe. Let them. I can understand that some people believe that they are the most important person in the world. That’s just narcissism.

However, I can’t understand why normal people actually consume that content. It’s no different from being brainwashed by TV.

Look, every time I write an article, record a podcast or video, I think: This is nothing more than stroking my ego. Every person who creates something has a big ego.

No doubt about it. But that feeling is countered by one other thought: There might be one person out there who might find this useful. And that’s why I do it personally.

I honestly don’t give a fuck about attention. My blog could go in flames tomorrow and nothing would change about my life. I would still work, go to the gym, read, spend time with my girlfriend, and hang out with my friends.

But at the same time, I’m glad to see that people find my articles useful and that it helps them. You have to stay objective. If you’re good at something, acknowledge your strengths. That’s not ego.

That’s stating facts. Similarly, if you suck, you should also acknowledge that. No one is perfect. Nor will you ever become perfect.

So this is how I deal with imposter syndrome:

  1. Acknowledge the feeling
  2. Look at your motives (are you doing something for attention or to help others)
  3. Recognize the impact your work has
  4. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses
  5. Be humble
  6. Don’t be motivated by praise
  7. Always stay a student, and communicate this to others

When I deal with imposter syndrome, I’m afraid that people think that I think know it all. In general, know-it-alls are not respected. Learners and people who admit they don’t know everything are.

That’s why my final tip is the most important (at least, for me): See yourself as a student. When you teach, share your ideas, give advice, or lead people: Do it with the humility of a student.

If you’re good at something, people can tell. You don’t have to always stress it. Authority is earned. Not forced.

When you take on that mindset, imposter syndrome has no chance to manifest itself in your head.

Why? Because students are not imposters. They are here to learn. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes. And if you do, people will forgive you. You’re a student anyway. We all are.

 

 

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15 comments

  1. I first learned about imposter syndrome in 1983. I attended a leadership presentation by then Alaska Schools Superintendent Larry Helms. I have shared it many times over the years with peers and students. It is real and just knowing about it helps to deal with it.

  2. Good down-to-earth article and advice. It might help people if they think about a tree. (What?!) Trees don’t shrink from growing as much in the way of height and leaves and fruit as they possibly can, just because of being worried about other trees thinking they’re showing off. And if they’re not mighty sycamores or whatever they don’t worry about it – that’s just another organism that isn’t them. They still grow as much as they “personally” can. The trouble with many human beings is either that they think they can’t be anything if they can’t be a mighty sycamore, and that they let their fears stop them being what they can be, or they have the illusion that they are a sycamore when they’re an apple tree. If you’re “only” an apple tree, grow as tall as you can and produce as many apples as you can. Again, be like the tree – don’t necessarily look for gratitude or appreciation, because many people won’t give a damn, but be what you can be and produce what you can produce, regardless of consequences or opinions.

  3. Thanks again Darius! I’m struggling to avoid this Syndrome.. I have it all the time; it’s so anoying and it blocks so many and nice things.. Congratulations for sharing your ideas like this, for your humility and thanks for giving us this great example of trying to be like this, open-minded, conscious and as you said an eternal student!

  4. Hi Darius,

    Sincerely, I’ve been in trouble in my life for the few weeks and maybe months because of the imposter syndrome. I guess one of the main reasons in my case is that people think I know everything, and somehow I feel forced to, maybe because of these expectations.

    This article helps me a lot to see better the situation and possible paths of solution.

    Thanks friend!!

  5. This is exactly what I needed to read right now, Darius. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! And thanks to Graham Lawrence for that beautiful tree idea. Love it.

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