business man holding a ladder while adjusting his tie to overcome the impostor experience

Admit it, you’re a fraud! and other stuff you tell yourself to ruin your life–Part III

Mark Steel Confidence

Do you feel like an impostor in your career sometimes? Or maybe it is your personal life that is out of balance.

In Part I of my blog series about the impostor experience, I outlined how you can recognize if you may be feeling the impostor experience yourself.

In Part II of the series, I shared my own personal story that stemmed from my feelings of being an impostor. I shared the secret which I let nearly destroy my career and my home life.

By sharing this, I’m hoping others will recognize these patterns in yourself so that you, too, can break the cycle.

If you have ever been feeling like an impostor, what can you do about it? How do you change your inner dialog?

I’m a lucky impostor

I’m not sharing my story in an effort to gain sympathy.

Even while I struggled inside, I was fortunate to maintain a good job working with great people.

My wife and I recently celebrated 20 years since together and I have two amazing children.

I am a fortunate man.

I’m sharing my story because I have come to know there are countless professionals and individuals that feel like impostors in their own careers or personal lives.

After doubting myself for far too long, I realized I could take control of those doubts.

Even more than realizing I COULD control what I tell myself, I came to see I MUST control what I tell myself.

Do you want to know something even more embarrassing than not having a college degree? It is the realization that in spite of how significant that secret was in my own head, the truth is… Most of the world doesn’t give a rat’s a$$!

It turns out, I was wasting incalculable amounts of time limiting myself. Time I will never get back.

Stop listening to the negative voice in your head

No one can promise that you’ll wake up tomorrow and never again hear that voice in your head trying to hold you back.

But I can promise that you can learn to stop listening to it.

Let me ask this, do you have a coworker, relative, or acquaintance that insults you? Most of us are familiar with “that guy” or “that gal” in our life that tries to pull you down.

They may drop hints on how they are better than you or more successful. Or they only talk about things in a negative tone.

Most likely, you don’t listen to that person. You likely avoid spending extra time with them. More than likely, you don’t believe their negativity.

Though you can’t always avoid family or friends, I would bet that if “that guy/gal” is a co-worker, you wouldn’t stand for it.

Without question, you’d avoid working with them as much as possible. You might even say something to your manager.

At the very least, you’d stop caring about anything they had to say.

If you can stop paying attention to an annoying coworker or family member, you can learn to stop paying attention to “that guy” or “that gal” in your head.

You are not an impostor

So how do you overcome this impostor feeling?

  1. Remind yourself that fear and doubt are completely natural
  2. List your unique strengths
  3. Never discount praise or accomplishments
  4. Climb Every Day

Step 1 – Remind yourself that having negative self-talk is extremely common. When you’re feeling doubt in your ability to succeed at something, you are far from alone.

In fact, you’re in good company. The most successful of people still feel doubts sometimes.

Successful people still know uncertainty, but they have come to understand that uncertainty means they should become even more aware and apply even more focus. They look for how things can go wrong only in an effort to anticipate, never as a way of holding back from the pursuit of their goals.

Step 2 – Take the time to focus in on your strengths. It worked best when I wrote them down. In fact, I used sticky notes in key spots around myself to remind me of my strengths.

Be generous. Do not discount something because you think others have that same strength. Perhaps, but your version of that strength is uniquely yours. Write it down!

Step 3 – This is key… Never dismiss or downplay an accomplishment. I was particularly bad at this. When someone pays you a compliment, recognizes your hard work, say ‘Thank You’ and that’s all! Don’t talk about you couldn’t have done it without their help, you got lucky, etc. Take in what they are saying and thank them for it.

Later, take deliberate time to FEEL the recognition you earned. Your hard work, your thoughtfulness, your uniqueness earned it. Soak it in. It can also help to write these moments down as well.

Step 4 – Set goals and climb (figuratively). One of the biggest ways you are reminded of all you can accomplish is by accomplishing goals. Set some small goals that you can accomplish today. Then set bigger, longer-term goals that your smaller goals are building towards. Not too far out on the future. Something that takes “stretching” to accomplish, but you push yourself to get there.

Each time you check off another goal, feel that sense of accomplishment. No one else finished that goal for you. You did it yourself. Even if others helped, you led the efforts. You deserve the win.

Impostor be gone!

You can do just what I did. You can come to know and believe in your own unique strengths and let them shine.

Replace the voice of doubt you may be hearing with a more positive, productive voice.

You are uniquely you. You have unique skills, strengths, and smarts that those around you don’t have. Focus on them. Learn to amplify them!

Anyone has the power to adjust their own inner dialog. You can start to change your self-talk into something positive.

Don’t wait another day. Don’t let yourself feel like an impostor ever again.

Thank you so much for reading. I would love your thoughts and comments below.

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