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Looking for 10 Ways to Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb? Does any of this sound familiar?
“I’m a fraud!”
“I’m not up to this finishing this book!”
“People will figure out my writing sucks soon!”
“I’m successful but I suck! How did this happen?”
These are the sort of things that writers suffering from imposter syndrome say. They feel like a phony even though their writerly success says otherwise. Do you have these kinds of feelings? (Because I totes do. Like, a lot.)
Today, we’ll examine what imposter syndrome really is, the symptoms and how you can overcome this stupid monster. If you have these inadequacy and self-doubt feelings about your writing, then you’re not alone. A lot of super successful authors suffer from this on the regular.
So what is Imposter Syndrome?
The best way to describe imposter syndrome is a feeling that you really don’t deserve the success that you have achieved. Other people see you as talented, intelligent, creative, and amazingly awesome, but you’re not buying what they’re selling. You think that you’re a phony who has had a great deal of luck in getting to where you are. You were in the right place at the right time and for some random reason, readers decided your books rock.
The biggest fear of people that are suffering from imposter syndrome is that someone will discover that they are a phony one day. The other major fears are:
· Fear of failure
· Fear of success
· Fear of self sabotage
Dude, fear of failure and success? Yes. As crazy as it sounds, you can be afraid of both at the same time. And all this leads to serious self doubt when a person suffering from imposter syndrome hits a bestseller list, has agents contacting them, gets an huge advance from a traditional publisher, becomes a Kindle Unlimited All-star Author, is asked for an interview, or is featured by a prominent reader blog. The whole time, they’re thinking “what the hell is wrong with these people? Don’t they realize I suck donkey balls?”
There’s irony here too. People that are experiencing the symptoms of imposter syndrome will often be inspired to work a lot harder so that they can avoid discovery as a fraud. This often leads to even more recognition and success and further promotion and then the individual feels like an even bigger phony! A totes vicious, exhausting writerly cycle.
In some cases imposter syndrome can have the opposite effect. The individual will actually revise their goals downwards so that they are less challenging, and the chances of achieving them become greatly increased. This is fear of failure kicking in, but the downside here is that the individual will not reach their full potential.
What are the Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome?
It is not always easy for you to recognize that you are suffering from imposter syndrome. You need to assess whether you have any of the following symptoms:
· You have frequent feelings of self doubt
· You have frequent feelings of inadequacy
· You often think to yourself “I don’t deserve to be here”
· You constantly worry that you are not meeting reader expectations
· You are obsessed with your mistakes and focus on these rather than your achievements
· You are always striving for perfection
· You think that there is nothing remarkable about your books
· You believe that you have been lucky and if you started over you would never be in the same position
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
It can be tough for you to recognize that you even have imposter syndrome because you may believe that the alternative to the feelings you have and the way you are behaving is to become self important and boastful. “Don’t these people know who I am?” Most people are not comfortable doing this and the truth is that it is not a good alternative.
1. Recognize that you have Imposter Syndrome feelings.
If you want to overcome imposter syndrome then the first step is to recognize that you are experiencing the associated feelings. Once you do that, you need to understand why you are even having these feelings.
One of the best ways to begin tackling this is to write down your inadequacy or self doubt feelings every time that they occur. Start a journal so that you have a record of this. When you write the negative feeling down force yourself to explain why you have experienced the feeling. Writing is a good way to provide clarity about these thoughts.
It may be that you are worrying about something unnecessarily. It could be something that has not happened yet and for some reason you are not confident that it will go well. The important thing to remember is that your feelings are not the same as reality, and just because you think something does not mean that it is a fact.
When you experience these negative feelings about your competence and ability, counteract them with positive thoughts. This will neutralize them in your mind. So if you think to yourself “I am not going to deliver that book on time” then neutralize this with “I have delivered longer and more complex books on time before, and I’m not going to fail with this one”.
A number of people that suffer from imposter syndrome believe that they are good at charming people and that explains why they have their lofty position in the writing world.
2. It’s good to talk.
One thing that you can be certain of is that other authors experience imposter syndrome at some stage or are experiencing it now. A lot of imposter syndrome sufferers find this hard to believe but it’s true.
If you have a writerly BFF that you really trust, ask them if you can talk about how you feel. If they have experienced imposter syndrome too, this may well shock you as you look up to them as competent, intelligent and talented and you cannot believe that they thought they were a phony.
Your BFF will listen to you and tell you that all of these fears you have about your competence, intellect and talent are totally irrational. You can often receive a tremendous boost from discussing your fears with people that you trust. Give it a try!
3. Conduct a personal SWOT analysis.
One of the classic imposter syndrome feelings is to believe that you are not up to being a writer. You can overcome this feeling by taking a good look at your strengths and weakness by performing a personal SWOT analysis.
If you are having difficulty coming up with your strengths then there are plenty of resources online that can help you to do this. You may find it a lot easier to identify your weaknesses at first but always believe that you have a number of strengths otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are today.
Once you have identified your strengths and weakness focus on the strengths and be proud of what you have become. Take a look at each of the weaknesses and think of ways that you can minimize these so that you become a better person.
4. Stop being a perfectionist!
Life is not perfect. You’re not perfect. No one else is perfect. So stop striving for perfectionism with everything you do. A lot of perfectionists will set themselves goals that are totally unreasonable. Then when they fail to achieve them this reinforces the belief that they are not worthy and a fraud.
Everyone makes mistakes so when you make yours see them as a learning experience rather than a huge negative. Do everything as well as you can but don’t overdo it.
Learn to set goals for yourself that are realistic. They need to be challenging but not to the point where the slightest mistake will lead to complete failure and leave you with feelings of inadequacy.
5. Accept your successes.
How do you feel about your achievements? Do you find it tough to accept compliments about the successes that you have achieved? Do you say things like “I was lucky”? If something goes wrong are you very quick to blame yourself?
You need to accept your successes. When that project is completed that you managed recognize that it was your talents and skill that made it all possible. Accept praise for your achievements readily. This can be difficult at first but practice by listening carefully, accepting any compliments and then internalizing positive feelings.
6. Do not rely on compliments.
Once you have mastered accepting compliments in the right way then do not become over reliant on them. Sure it is nice for you to receive praise from senior managers and others, but you do not want to feel powerless without this. It is not going to happen with everything that you do.
If you let these compliments, or lack of them, control the way that you feel then you will be in for a rude awakening. Never get yourself into a situation where other people have greater power to make you feel good about yourself than you do. Learn to praise yourself and make yourself up when you need it.
7. Raise the bar.
Rather than lowering your goals so that they are a lot easier to achieve raise the bar a little. Add more pressure so that you can prove to yourself that you are not a fraud and can do the job. If you keep lowering the bar then you end up in a cycle of self pity which will just reinforce your imposter syndrome feelings.
When you raise the bar you will be under more pressure and it becomes a “do or die” situation. If you fail then you will always know that you were striving to achieve something really great. If you succeed then you can revel in the victory. Either way you keep the “imposter” at bay.
8. Take action.
People suffering from imposter syndrome usually wait to take action because they do not have the confidence to act. Take action anyway. It doesn’t matter if you are ready or not just do it. This will help you to overcome imposter syndrome as you will see yourself as a “go getter” and someone who is always moving forward.
9. Embrace failure.
This may shock you but only real imposters hide away from failure. Go out and look for failure! Always believe that failures will lead to successes. Think that when you fail you are one stop nearer to success. You are in the game and you are moving forwards.
Do you know how many rejections Walt Disney received from banks and other financial institutions for his Disneyland idea all those years ago? Over 300! Did he succeed eventually? You bet he did! Success is all the sweeter when you have tasted failure.
10. Keep on planning.
Get into the habit of planning everything until the end. If you spend most of your time “winging it” then this will add fuel to your imposter syndrome flames. The end result is all that counts. It doesn’t matter if you had a great start and other highs in between, it is the end result that counts.
When you have plans you are more likely to follow through on them. You need to be prepared to change your plans to reflect reality because no plan will be perfect. But having a plan in the first place commits you to achieving the goal more, and is far better than winging it all of the time. Don’t be scared of the accountability.
Imposter syndrome is irrational fear but it is not something that you have to live with for very long. When you take the actions recommended in this post you will start to overcome your imposter syndrome and eventually eradicate these negative feelings about yourself. So it is over to you now.
Take action and don’t be the victim of imposter syndrome!