Almost all of us have felt imposter syndrome at one point or another. It’s a terrible feeling and can lead to insecurity, procrastination, and can cause talented creators to give up before they have even given themselves the chance to succeed.
Imposter syndrome is a tremendous problem in the creative space, and it’s something I have battled with many times over the years. So I did some research and found a few solutions.
Here are my recommendations for how to silence imposter syndrome in your creative mind.
What is Imposter syndrome?
Before I tell you how to fix it, let’s take a moment and discuss what imposter syndrome is.
Imposter Syndrome is an extreme feeling of self doubt that leads people to believe that they are actually less capable than others think they are.
People with imposter syndrome often feel like a “fraud” and are afraid that others will expose them despite how qualified they actually are.
According to the American Psychological Association, up to 82% of people have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. This number is even higher for women and suppressed minority groups.
Creative individuals are also highly susceptible to this intense self doubt because we are often bringing new ideas into the world that truly matter to us.
How to Silence Imposter Syndrome
It’s important to remember that this feeling of imposter syndrome does not reflect your actual abilities or competence in what you are doing. It’s merely a way of your brain trying to protect you by keeping you in the “safe zone” of your abilities.
Once you acknowledge that imposter syndrome is just a feeling, not a reality, you will be able to focus on silencing it enough to move forward.
Here are some tricks I recommend for silencing imposter syndrome:
1. Keep a running list of your accomplishments
Making a list of your accolades may feel uncomfortable, but I’m not suggesting that you blast out your accomplishments and brag to the world. This list is for you.
Many of us feel the sting of imposter syndrome through a self-deprecating statement such as “why would anyone listen to me?” Or “What right do I have to speak up and be heard in this space?”
Making yourself a list of relevant accomplishments will give you ready ammunition to combat that self doubt.
I suggest starting on the list before you feel imposter syndrome creeping up on you. You may find the task more difficult if you wait until the last minute.
If that happens to you, at least get started with one or two items right now. You can come back to the list as you think of more things to add to it.
When imposter syndrome sets in, read over your list and remind yourself of why you are exceptional at what you do and why the effort you are putting in is worth it.
2. Surround yourself with supportive friends
Sometimes you need another voice to quiet your doubting mind. Supportive friends will help you through these moments by reminding you of why you started in the first place and giving you that emotional boost you need to keep going.
Talk to a few close friends and ask them to be your cheerleaders. Ask them if you can send them a message or call them when you need a boost.
Also, be sure you are available to boost them up when they need you to return the favor. Being there for others will not only strengthen your friendship, but it will give you the confidence to ask for help when you need it.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people can make an enormous difference in your mental health and your ability to push through the self doubt and meet your goals.
3. Turn your fears into goals.
If you catch yourself saying “I’m not good enough because I haven’t accomplished x, y, and z” then turn those fears into goals.
These thoughts may be your subconscious mind telling you what it believes success looks like. Listen to it and make a plan for yourself to reach those goals.
If the voice sounds like “I’m not good enough because I’m not like x person.” Then take a moment and figure out why you admire that person. What is it about them you wish you could emulate? Turn those qualities and accomplishments into goals of your own.
A few tips on setting creative goals: Make sure your goals are realistic and true to you. And strive to make them SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Goals that follow this structure are more likely to get accomplished.
If you would like more details on this, check out my blog post on How To Set Achievable Business Goals That Actually Motivate You
Once you’ve set these goals for yourself, if imposter syndrome strikes again, remind yourself that you are making progress and that it’s okay to start at the beginning. Everyone starts out as a beginner. Even you.
4. Practice self care
Sometimes imposter syndrome is a sign of impending burnout. Burnout is very common among creative individuals and can really cause a setback in your creative journey.
Keep burnout at bay by practicing self care. There are many ways to do this. You can learn more about practicing self care in my post: Self Care for Creatives
Sometimes self care is taking a long shower and eating a bowl of ice cream. But sometimes it’s as simple as taking a deep breath and granting yourself some patience.
It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we grow. So don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.
No one expects you to be perfect immediately, except you.
Give yourself the opportunity to grow in your chosen space without judging yourself or your accomplishments against the accomplishments of others. Instead, celebrate your effort and how far you’ve come.
5. Remember that no one is watching you as closely as you are
Believe it or not, everyone else is focused on their own goals and journeys.
It may feel like you have a spotlight trained on you at all times and like everyone will notice if you mess up, but they won’t.
You are allowed to make mistakes.
You are allowed to learn as you go.
And the truth is, no one wants to follow someone who pretends to be perfect. People want to follow others who they can relate to and learn from. Focus on being the person your customers and followers can connect with, rather than someone without flaws.
And if someone in your life tries to shine a spotlight on your mistakes and flaws, rethink that relationship entirely.
It’s one thing to have people in your life who hold you accountable and help you stay humble. It’s different when those people are purposely destructive to you and your work.
Now may be the time to let those destructive people go.
Imposter Syndrome is normal and it affects many creative entrepreneurs. Even so, you don’t have to sit and wallow in self doubt, hoping to one day feel worthy. Take action by trying these five tactics:
– Keep a running list of your accomplishments
– Surround yourself with supportive people
– Turn your fears into goals
– Practice self care
– Remember that no one is watching you as closely as you are
I hope these strategies are helpful to you. These five tactics have helped me over the years and I believe they can also help you silence imposter syndrome and make the most out of your creative journey.
Do you have any tactics for combating Imposter Syndrome? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!