I’ve seen countless women being held back by imposter syndrome. Also known as the belief that we aren’t enough—smart enough, ready enough, qualified enough, old enough, pretty enough—imposter syndrome is a crisis, and it’s one that impacts most of us. Believe it or not, studies suggest that nearly 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime, and for women? It can be brutal.Professionally, imposter syndrome can wreak havoc on your career or business. It can keep you from owning your abilities—and your potential—because you’re constantly doubting whether or not you can do the thing you want to do, whether or not you “belong” where you are, and whether or not you’re capable of achieving great success.
But here’s the thing—you don’t have to let imposter syndrome hold you back. Countless powerful men and women have dealt with imposter syndrome and succeeded—including Maya Angelou, Sonia Sotomayor, Emma Watson, and even Michelle Obama—meaning, even if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, it’s very possible to learn how to move through it and see who you really are.
If you want to learn how to ditch imposter syndrome, here are a few tips to get started:
Remember that you’re not alone.
It’s easy to see a list of the famous people who have dealt with imposter syndrome and feel even more doubtful of your own greatness. You might be thinking, “If Maya Angelou dealt with imposter syndrome, then how will I ever measure up?”
And if you really think about it, the answer lies in that very question. Almost everyone deals with imposter syndrome—including world-famous authors, actors, and leaders—but if they doubt themselves from time to time then maybe doubting yourself is okay. Look at all of the things Maya Angelou accomplished: a Pulitzer Prize nomination, a Tony Award nomination, three Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and more than FIFTY honorary degrees.
You could keep doubting yourself—waiting until you feel “enough” to do whatever it is you want to do—but even if you’re at the absolute top of your game like Maya Angelou, that’s not going to magically fix your self-doubt.
A quick Google search on imposter syndrome will result in millions of articles about what imposter syndrome is, who it impacts, and how you can deal with it. Most of them start with a single suggestion: be more aware of those thoughts when they come and recognize them for what they are. Thoughts. They only hold as much power as you give them, which means—if you learn to recognize the self-critical voice in your head—you can start to respond to it accordingly.
There’s a reason why people say “mindset matters.” Our thoughts shape so much of our identities, our actions, and our futures, but if we’re actively practicing mindfulness and learning to separate ourselves from our thoughts, then we can guide ourselves in a more positive direction.
Imagine going to a networking event and having the thought, “Ugh, I don’t belong here. I’m a fraud, and everyone is going to find out that I’m not a real business owner.” Instead of fighting with that thought—or letting it keep you quiet, hiding in the back of the room, or even leaving the event entirely—learn to recognize it for what it is. Separate yourself from the thought and say, “Hey, I might be doubting myself right now, but that’s okay. I’m showing up, and that’s what counts.”
Remind yourself of your own power.
Whenever I have a client who is battling imposter syndrome, I always have them do this exercise in order to remind themselves about their own abilities. It’s super easy, and it only takes a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a few minutes.
On one side of the paper, start by listing out every thought you’re having about yourself of why you’re not ready or enough. On the other, write down every experience that you can think of—professionally and personally—that has prepared you for what you’re doing now.
Every time we list out those negative thoughts that are creeping around in our heads, we help loosen the grip they have on our minds. We’re acknowledging them—and the part of ourselves that might feel a little scared—and releasing them.
In the same way, writing out and listing every piece of our experience that has prepared us for where we’re at now is a confidence boost and a mindset shift. It can help remind you of everything you’ve done—and everything you’re capable of doing—which can help silence the self-doubt you’re experiencing and remind you that you are enough.
It’s far too easy to let imposter syndrome drown out all of the positives in our lives and experiences. Unchecked, we can almost forget what we’ve done, which is why actively revisiting those things can help keep you going even in the midst of self-doubt. Because the secret is that you are capable of doing and achieving so many wonderful things.
You just have to give yourself the space to do them.
This guest post was authored by Cait Scudder
Cait is a former high school teacher-turned-entrepreneur whose work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider, and more. An internationally-recognized online business expert, Cait is a TEDx speaker, host of the Born to Rise Podcast, and CEO of a 7-figure company—and she’s on a mission to reach and empower ten million driven, bold-hearted women so they can uncover their zone of genius and use it to create profitable, purpose-driven businesses that change the world. You can follow her on Instagram @caitscudder or on her website, caitscudder.com.
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