It’s a little unusual, but I’m going to start this out by telling you about the challenge I faced in writing this.
Then, we’ll move on to the content.
Why? Because my process clearly indicates that I, too, and affected by this. Before I tell you WHAT I struggle with, I’ll share my story.
Currently, I’m working on finding more guest blog posting opportunities because I love to write and interact, and because my business. Not to mention that I could certainly benefit from a few more cheerleaders (just being honest). I was lucky enough to connect with a lady named Sushmita who discussed giving me an opportunity to write for her audience.
I proposed this blog idea to Sushmita feeling confident that you would not only enjoy the read, but also that you would benefit greatly from it. My inner thoughts at that time: “I’m am on cloud nine.” Or “I’m bloody brilliant!” and even, “I’m the bee’s knees!”
Fast forward a day or two later as I attempt to finish writing the article. I had everything nicely laid out, the ideas and sources were lined up and then… and then everything changed. In the back of my mind was this soft, cajoling, evil little voice…
“Who are you anyways? Why would anyone care what YOU have to say? Aren’t there people better qualified than you…?”
My inner saboteur got to work. A blog post that I was prepared and excited for usually takes me 30-45 minutes to write start to finish. As I write this, I’m already 4 hours in.
Do you know what I did that entire 4 hours? Fight the inner saboteur. She REALLY didn’t want me to write or post this.
So here it is, just to spite that inner saboteur.
It’s Impostor Syndrome!
Some of you may have already guessed, but I’m talking about Impostor Syndrome (AKA fraud syndrome or impostor phenomenon). Wikipedia has it described as “high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”
That inner saboteur making you feel like poop and telling you that you are a fake… yeah that’s it.
Not everyone suffers from it, there’s not district connection to personality traits and it’s not a mental disorder, but it is very common. What does that mean for you? YOU ARE NOT ALONE (as this affects approximately 70% of the population worldwide).
There have been speculations that this can be caused by a whole host of issues but people who would classify themselves as high achievers are the most likely to experience imposter syndrome.
Do any of these sound like you or someone you know?
- EVERYTHING MUST BE PERFECT.
- I work as much as I need to, some even call me a workaholic.
- Undermining my achievements comes easy; It’s almost a natural response.
- I cannot take a compliment without responding with a reason I shouldn’t be acknowledged.
- I am terrified of failure and feel that everything I do is likely to crash and burn.
OH NO! What Do I Do?!
Step one, take a deep breath. Not everyone experiencing the above is dealing with impostor syndrome. It’s important to distinguish between that and basic insecurity. If you don’t have skills, drive, or success… well you may just be lacking motivation or self-confidence. Those who suffer from the syndrome are those who have achieved success, have made an impact, have completed something, and yet they STILL feel like a failure, or like someone will magically find out they don’t know what they are doing.
Are you nailing your tasks, succeeding in the steps you take, but you still don’t feel like you’re making it? That’s the saboteur, that’s impostor syndrome.
Celebrities who have admitted to having impostor syndrome:
- Tina Fey
- Maya Angelou
- Meryl Streep
- Daniel Radcliffe
- Robert Pattinson
- Lady Gaga
- Neil Gaiman
The list goes on…
Just because that saboteur exists and loves to pester you and test your resolve, it doesn’t mean you are defenseless. Because Impostor Syndrome isn’t a mental illness there aren’t clear and specific treatments or tools to deal with this, but I have a few tricks that I use to conquer this myself.
(CLEARLY this works as TA DA, the blog post I couldn’t write is written!)
Sassy Stomps the Saboteur
Alright so you know what is it, and you know now that MANY folks suffer from it. I bet you’re thinking, “Great, but how does that FIX anything?”
Well it doesn’t. In truth, I don’t have a magic answer for you. In trying to write this I went through a massive gamut of skills and tricks and tips. Here’s what ended up working for me:
Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel this way; Others do too!
I mention this because it was the one big thing that finally spurred me into action. After struggling for hours, I jumped in on a call with my mastermind group, Empowerment Pride, to test the waters and get a little support/accountability. We talked about different people that experience it, or people they know who have, and things to address it. Just being able to share my thoughts and concerns with others helped me hear and reframe my saboteur.
Shut up and do it anyways.
Yes, I know how this sounds, but for me it works wonders. Sometimes it’s perfectionism that my saboteur uses against me and the only thing I ever found to fix it was to just do. Sometimes just starting it is enough to silence the doubts as I have put my otherwise fussy mind to work. For example, I was terrified to do a live webinar, didn’t think I could manage it, didn’t think I knew how, didn’t think anyone would care… and so on.
BUT I DID IT ANYWAYS.
Reframe your ideas around failure, or replace the word all together!
I’ll admit, this is one I use all the time, not just when faced with the saboteur. When I started my business, I dealt with fear of failure in a big way. Then, I watched an amazing video from Spanx CEO Sara Blakely and gained an entirely new perspective. Take a moment and have a watch, and I challenge you to really absorb what she’s saying.
When in Doubt…
My motto is NEVER STOP. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or right, or even fun, but just keep pushing. Don’t overthink it, or at least TRY not to overthink it. Trust in what you know about yourself and what you know you can accomplish. Stop caring what everyone else is thinking or saying, because it just doesn’t matter.
For those of you that made it this far, thanks so much for reading. You know how I said I was at 4 hours near the start of this post? All told, this took me almost a full 12 hours to write, re-write, edit, and cajole myself into submitting… AND I DID IT ANYWAYS. As of posting this, I’m still not sure if the article will make it through to post on the guest site, but I wanted to be sure you all got to read it.