How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
In this episode, I’m going to discuss overcoming imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can come in many forms, doubting yourself when you get a raise, downplaying your accomplishments, or even being hesitant to speak with authority. I’ve had to handle imposter syndrome in many times of my life. From trying to work with high networth clients as a mortgage loan processor or speaking to executives.
Let me give you a recent example. I was on a call with some fellow podcasters and we were discussing podcast download numbers. I wanted to share with them the way in which I was going to share my media kit, which included download numbers, to others at a conference I was preparing to attend. I immediately started to doubt myself and downplayed the amount of downloads and social media followers I had. One of my fellow podcasters called me out on it and told me to stop self-deprecating. And she was totally right. She reminded me that my focus needs to be on a growth mindset instead of comparing myself to others. I was really appreciative of that because it’s so often that I choose to look at what I’m not doing right instead of what I am doing well.
As I think back on my time working in corporate, I’ve had to face the fact that I didn’t always look like everyone else in a boardroom as a young woman of color. I remember a time when I received a raise to work on a specialized team that dealt with high networth individuals processing mortgages between half a million dollars or more. These people were generally very successful business owners with assets sometimes over a million. As a liason between underwriters, bankers, and clients I had to come terms that even after I received my training I felt unprepared the role. I started questioning myself why I was chosen for this team when I was relatively new to the company I was working for.
When I came in each morning to the office, I had to remember to pace myself and allow myself time to learn the ropes, get acquainted with my resources, ask important questions to my colleagues and more importantly work my BUTT off. Every day that I worked in that position, I increased my knowledge and skills so that it got to the point that I could speak from authority. I used to be so afraid that people wouldn’t find me qualified enough to speak to them about what was needed to process their loans. I remember the day that I found the courage to speak from a place of confidence.
So how do we overcome imposter syndrome? I’m going to share with you a few tips that have helped me to overcome my doubts, fears, and insecurities.
The power of affirmations
Affirmations are a big way to encourage yourself to identify your self worth. If you feel like you are unworthy, remember that surrounding yourself with encouraging mantras, podcasts, worship music, and meditation can really help you to “get out of your head.”
One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson. She says.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.Your playing small Does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking So that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, As children do. We were born to make manifest The glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; It’s in everyone.. And as we let our own light shine, We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.
When I first heard this quote, I felt so free. It was so empowering to remember that I was meant to be the best that I could be. I didn’t have to shy away from my greatness. I didn’t have to believe that I needed to be quiet or reserved. As a naturally shy and introverted person, I’ve always been hesitant to speak from authority, even when I knew something that needed to be said. That’s why I love this quote. It encourages me to allow myself to believe that I am called to a higher purpose and calling than being “too afraid” to step into my greatness. I’m a firm believer in prayer and even if you aren’t, I believe that training our minds to think differently than we have before is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself, your relationships, and the world. I try to quote scriptures, powerful affirmations, or encouraging posts that help to inspire me to keep my heart filled with creativity, hope, and passion.
Give yourself permission to be great. Don’t shy away from leadership and your passion projects.
The power of journaling
Journaling is another that you can create headspace for allowing yourself to accept your worthiness. Journaling has helped me to reset my thinking when my mind wanders to questioning my authority. It helps me to think and reflect on what has happened in my past. I’m kind of a journal addict. If you peruse my library at home, you’ll find that I have dozens of journals filled to the brim with notes, ideas, and journal entries. When I look back at those journals, I can see how God has helped me to overcome each of the situations that I’ve been placed in the past. It’s encouraging to see how these experiences have helped shape the woman I am and will forge the woman I will become in the future. If you don’t have time for journaling, you can try blogging or sketching out how you feel. These are creative methods that I’ve used in the past to express my feelings and allow myself to be okay with where I am at.
Rehearse your power
When I was training as an actor, there were so many times when I had to rehearse the way a character walked, talked, and thought. I had to consider the way they held themselves. Think about royalty. Do princesses walk shyly into a room? No, they walk proud and confident. They are poised for success and power. When you walk, sit, or stand do you hunch over? Do you put your hands in your pockets, cross your ankles, or arms? These are telling signs of not being confident with yourself. I know, because I’ve done it!
The next time you feel self-conscious or are feeling like an imposter think to yourself,” I can do this! I have overcome things in the past and I can do it again. I am brave, smart, and capable.” Sit upright and expand your chest to avoid your shoulders from slouching. If you can sneak into the bathroom, do a power pose by raising both arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm and repeat an encouraging affirmation to yourself. Then, walk back to your desk gracefully and empowered. If you need time to rehearse a presentation, ask a friend to watch you and give you suggestions. If you don’t have a friend at the office, ask a loved one or family member that you trust to tell you how to improve. You won’t improve until you actually practice. You can’t ask for the raise until you actually say it out loud before you meet with your boss. Take time to rehearse your power so you can kick butt in the boardroom or your online business.
What if you don’t know the answer?
Well what happens when you don’t know the answer? I remember getting butterflies in my stomach every time I would stand up in front of a crowd. I would worry I would mess up, forget something in my speech, or make a fool of myself. Once while I was working with some of my high networth clients, I was worried that one person would ask a question I didn’t know. I stuck to what I knew, but there were definitely times I did not know every single thing that was discussed. So what I did next was take the time to research what I didn’t know. And then, I told my clients that I would follow up once I completed my research. And guess what, most of my clients did not care! They were able to allow me the time to make sure I was giving them the right answer. Rather than rushing in and pretending that I knew something I didn’t, I made sure that the time I spent discussing information was valuable, informative, and coherent. No one knows everything. Remember that you don’t stop learning until the day you die and if you want to continue to grow in your profession and business you can’t allow not knowing something to keep you from accomplishing your goals.
Give yourself a pat on the back
When you find that you are comparing yourself to others, remember that you don’t know what it took to get that person to where they are today. Only you can control your actions, your success is determined by you and only you. So celebrate those small successes. This tip comes from my friend and mentor Latasha James. Make sure to check out her podcast Freelance Friday, a podcast about women, business, and digital marketing. When you start doubting yourself, update your resume, improve your website, and write down a list of your accomplishments. Don’t wait for someone else to pat you on the back. Give yourself a pat on the back and proudly share this with the world.