Imposter Syndrome: Five Ways to Feel Better
A million things will stand in your way when endeavoring to do something you actually care about. But Imposter Syndrome—that feeling that tells you you aren’t who you are—is one of the most venomous.
How can you be an imposter at something that’s a self-made construct, anyway? Yes, that’s what our idea of humanity is: a construct. Does that sound harsh? It should be liberating; we choose all this! After that initial gift of life, we continue on as inventions that invent ourselves each day.
We can’t be imposters of ourselves. We can only be ourselves. Good and bad. Period.
We have these great big brains that criticize and overthink things, but let us be more like dogs. We want that next morsel, next belly rub, next adventure. The doggish naiveté in their quest to live is authentic. Our lack of naiveté (or perception thereof) does not make us un-authentic, it just makes us horrible to ourselves.
We end up judging when really we’re all just trying to dog.
Because this past month has been ridiculously full of travel and new experiences, I have not been able to get into a productive writing zone. I haven’t had more than three days of consistent living in one place.
So lately, my first thought when I wake up is about how terrible I feel about myself since I’m not being “productive.” It’s melodramatic—I’m first to admit.
My inner critic lashes out for not writing more. For not sticking to my routine of a new post every day, etc. I am trying to destroy myself.
When I came back from my retreat in Italy, I was fully confident in my path toward becoming a writer. Now it is only doubt. And this doubt has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with judgment. I have a preconceived notion that I should do writing a certain way, and I judge myself for not meeting that one (out of millions) way of approaching things.
Questions abound on whether or not I can see this through, feeling like I’m a sham, how in less than a month I have fallen off the ladder. And I lie here at the base barely able to pick up a pen.
Yet I know that this month has been filled with necessary and enriching experiences. I’m planting a creativity garden, so to speak.
I went to Standing Rock, I visited several old and true friends, I packed up my house to transition into living rent-free, I tied up loose ends here in Los Angeles. Much non-writing work was accomplished. But because it’s not writing, I only find the room to chastise myself.
Describing it like that, I feel ridiculous.
Who am I to set standards on how my writing process should look when I haven’t had time to establish my writing process?!
A few days ago, after I woke up and pressed play on my daily first thoughts of self-flagellation, I had an epiphany: It was just a record, and I was deciding to press play. I created the record, I pressed play. Nobody but me was making me do anything.
So I decided to replace the record with: “I’m so happy, I’m so happy, I’m so happy.”
It was a simple, basic switch. No complex word magic here. I just stopped dwelling on horrible words and chose something positive … And it worked.
This was a combination of mantra and self-talk, and it’s one of the ways I wrestle with Imposter Syndrome.
Five Tools to Overcome Imposter Syndrome:
Your mind is an engine. Fill it with the right type of fuel.
Beautiful spirits are defeated because the stories they tell themselves are simply wrong. There is a magic that takes place when you plant the mental seeds of mantras. Think of the repetitions as “existence fertilizer.” Simply repeat a thought. That’s all you have to do (but you can read more techniques Wildmind Meditation).
When you’re walking, riding a bike, cooking … whenever you feel the risk of slipping into a dark hole, begin repeating a positive mantra.
Here are some of my favorites:
I come from greatness, I attract greatness, I am greatness.
I believe in L.U.C.K. Love. Understanding. Compassion. Kindness.
I attract extraordinary wealth.
Whatever you need to hear—and whether or not you believe it—tell it to yourself over and over and over again. You will see results.
If everybody journaled every day, I’m positive the world would be a better place. I think Benjamin Hardy at the Observer would agree.
I would have had better boyfriends. You mom would have mommed you better. Your boss would lighten up.
Imposter Syndrome doesn’t stand a chance when you are putting words to paper. A filter comes off. If you journal stream-of-consciousness style, you spit out those demons. Through some form of magic comes reality.
Often times I “wake-up” mid-writing to see something I’ve just penned is ludicrous, and as I continue to break it down, I begin to take hold of who I am again.
Even if it’s just one page a day, make writing a priority. I suggest doing it before you get out of bed until it becomes a morning addiction.
3. Success List
It seems so simple—childlike even—but keeping a list of your successes is one of the best forms of Imposter Syndrome treatment.
In essence, Imposter Syndrome is just a silly technique our darker self uses to beat us down. We need to be able to remind Imposter Syndrome that it’s stupid.
A success list reminds you what you’ve achieved in life. Include every little thing. Learning to ice skate, being happily married, being happily single, making that delicious cake, writing a blog post two days ago … anything that took work, talent, kindness, and/or discipline should go on your success list.
Keep it on your phone so that you can access it anytime, because I know you have your phone on you all the time.
One of the worst parts about Imposter Syndrome is that it truly causes us to be cruel to ourselves.
Compassion is something we’re often willing to feel toward others, but seldom comfortable with feeling toward ourselves.
One of the worst parts about Imposter Syndrome is that it causes us to be cruel to ourselves. Compassion is something we’ll feel toward others, but seldom grant to ourselves.
We are human. We are crazy, inexplicable, and ridiculous. We forget things, we feel depressed, we try hard, we’re raw and vulnerable, we miss our childhoods, we miss safety, we miss love. In our hearts, we are sweet babes that just want happiness. It’s not easy being you (cue music).
We must take the highest part of ourselves and charge that part with loving all the other parts. The inner children that need love most. The broken histories that make homes in our heart. We must have compassion toward ourselves, because sometimes there’s nobody else there to do it.
You are not just one thing. Surprise!
Being a human is not something we can understand. It’s Mindf*ck City, Population: All of Us. What I can tell you is that you change on a daily basis. How can you be an imposter at something when you can’t even put your thumb on it due to the simple nature of inconstancy?
One of my tried-and-true methods of bringing myself off the ledge when life overwhelms me is to remind myself how “unimportant” it all is. Not unimportant like boo-hoo-life-doesn’t-matter, but just that what happens today is a speck of dust in the span of time. We are all going to die, we are all going to be forgotten. It’s great!
In that unimportance, you can place importance on the daily things of your choosing. We are doing the best we can, we change our minds, we screw up, and at the end of the day we die and all is well.
Your best bet is to pursue your passions, follow your nose, and truly do the best you can in a quest to feel happy and fulfilled.
The [Perhaps Temporary] End of Imposter Syndrome
I am what I am.
There is nobody holding me to a standard. I am a writer. There’s not a rule book on what it takes to be that.
You know who just popped into my head?
The woman who wrote 50 Shades of Grey.
The asshole judgmental part of myself would like to say, “Ugh. She probably calls herself a writer. What crap!”
And you know what? If she thinks she is a writer, she is. She is not an imposter no matter what snobs like me would like to say. There would be an argument that she’s no author of high literary fiction. But she’s just being an author. She writes. All right.
We do what we do, title or not, and it is what we are. It is literally impossible to be an imposter of your own self. We cannot impose ourselves on our own selves, we are just the thing.
So tell me:
When does imposter system get you? What do you do to fight it? Does it sneak up or do you feel the first pangs? How and why do we so often let it win??
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