How to deal with impostor syndrome

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough?

Me too!

It comes up a lot in my professional life, which is funny because I have years of experience and a proven track record. That doesn’t seem to stop that nagging little voice popping up and telling me I don’t know what I’m doing.

I often feel like an impostor. Especially when I’m trying something new. There’s this creeping fear that somebody will see through my mask and expose me as the fraud I am.

I even feel like an impostor right now for thinking that I have anything worth sharing in a blog post.

This impostor voice seems to show up whenever I am challenging myself; stepping into a situation that requires me to grow.

Hmm… could it be that this voice is an attempt by my survival-oriented lizard brain to stop me growing?

Saying Hello

Last year I set up an email address for my impostor so i could set the record straight with him (tomsimposter@gmail.com in case you want to say hello).

Here’s an email I wrote to him once during a heavy bout of imposterism:

Hi Impostor, 

I want to talk to you about this project. I know that you are worried for our well-being and that you have my best interests at heart.

This is why I want to talk to you because I also want what’s best for both of us and I can see that we have been working at cross purposes at times lately. 

I want to assure you that I know what I am doing here and that you don’t have to worry. I have got this. I have done this kind of thing many times before and although it is sometimes scary and doubts arise, I have been here before and it has always ended well.

The worst case scenario usually involves stress for a short period of time. In hindsight, I really can’t think of a time when that stress has been justified. I know that I have a great talent for finding flaws in my work and in my character and I am great at magnifying them and stressing about them but never has this worrying proved correct.

All in all wouldn’t you say I’ve come out happier and stronger for everything that’s happened so far? 

I want to thank you for being there for me and watching out for me. I also want what is best for us and I want you to be able to relax and know that I will be fine and that this will be a really fun, rewarding and educational process.

I want to enjoy this project as much as I want it to be a success for us and the whole team and client. I have all the skills and experience I need to make this a breeze and to form new and stronger relationships in the process.

Thank you and know that I love you.

With deep love and respect,

Tom


You may notice how respectful I’m being to this troublesome character. I could have told him where to shove it — and that might be quite satisfying — but what I was going for was acknowledgement. Ultimately that voice has my best interests at heart. It wants me to be safe, so it’s trying to stop me doing things which imply the possibility of failure. I was letting it know that I understood the message it was trying to get across so it didn’t have to keep shouting in my ear.

I know from experience that arguing with unsettling parts of myself only turns up the volume.

I’ve written messages to all kinds of parts of me: My fear, my anxiety, my victim. It may sound a bit mental but it works for me. I dare you to give it a try.

What does your impostor say to you?

Please share in the comments.


PS. My impostor never went away completely, but he’s definitely more laid back than he used to be.

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