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How to beat Impostor Syndrome

How to beat Impostor Syndrome

Self-assured? I would love to say that I am a super well adjusted, self-assured kind of guy and I am totally secure in everything I do, especially professionally but the truth is I’m not. As accomplished as I am in my career, each time I take on a new project or a new roll there is a little voice in the back of my head that wants to remind me that I am an impostor, not qualified, under qualified, inexperienced, have a total lack of skills, knowledge or whatever else it can dream up. That little voice would be happy to sabotage all my efforts if I let it. I've come to recognize that voice as Imposter Syndrome.

What is Imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. When we lose confidence in our ability, question our own self-worth and think we've somehow gained our position under some weird kind of false pretense, that’s what we call Imposter Syndrome. It basically boils down to one thing, self-doubt. There are two very important things you can do to quiet imposter syndrome when it rears its ugly head. 

  • 1) Ignore the lizard brain. The first thing is to remind yourself that this is just your lizard brain kicking in and saying, “Hey, there is a danger when you stick your neck out, so stop sticking your neck out.” The lizard brain is trained to spot trouble but some of the trouble it spots isn’t really trouble at all. You see, the lizard brain relies on survival instincts. Those instincts, however, are very primal and haven’t evolved quite as quickly as the rest of the human brain. The lizard brain isn't worried about keynote speeches or power presentations or any of the stuff in your job description. The lizards brain’s one and only mission is survival. It keys in on fear and there’s plenty of fear to spread around when it comes to the Impostor Syndrome. So, while the lizard brain is looking out for things like predators and the dangers of straying from the pack our rational mind needs to remind us those protections no longer serve us as well as they might if our only goal were survival.

  • 2) Fake it till you make it. Fear never really goes away. We can’t simply wave a magic wand and rid ourselves of it in an instant and even if we could that would not serve us well. A normal healthy amount of fear keeps us safe in our everyday lives but when it gets out of control and begins to cloud our ability to lead productive lives we need to make some adjustments.  It takes work. Our minds often limit what we think we are capable of what most of us fail to recognize is that we’re capable of so much more. We often sell ourselves short when it comes to measuring our abilities. This is the lizard brain again, trying to protect us. Risk is scary to the lizard brain. It prefers we play it safe which is again, outdated technology in today’s world. Everyone feels fear even people who are at the top of their game. The only difference between them and you is they feel fear and do it anyway. Practice stepping outside your comfort zone when you begin to feel fear is guiding you. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. As you become more accustomed to pushing your boundaries your lizard brain will gradually loosen its grip.

Fear is a powerful thing but it needn’t be what guides you. Those who let fear become their guide often feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Practicing to overcome your fears by focusing on rational thought and understanding a healthy amount of fear is natural is a great way to undermine the messaging of the lizard brain. The more we exercise ration thought and believe in our own abilities the less control fear has over our everyday lives.