If something triggers you, you might feel a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach or a stifling sense of dread. Headaches, chest pain, discomfort, and nausea are some other signs to watch for. Your mind might feel foggy or exhausted from lack of sleep, anxiety, or physical pain. Sometimes we miss these signs all together or mistake them for something else. After all, we’re running from one place to another constantly and trying to wear
How to Manage Imposter Syndrome as an Entrepreneur
Imposter Syndrome. We’ve all been there when we have those days in business where things aren’t going quite right, or where we’re challenged beyond what we feel capable of doing. And our thoughts quickly jump to “who am I to be doing this?” This feeling is so common that it has a name of its own: Imposter Syndrome – and even famous people get it. Famous British actress Rosamund Pike, who recently won a Golden Globe award, has confessed to burying her awards in her garden because of Imposter Syndrome. (Source: hyperlink BBC) We sat down with Katrina Streatfeild, a clinical psychologist with two decades of experience, to talk in-depth about this common phenomenon.
How to overcome Imposter Syndrome and thrive
FACT #1: Imposter Syndrome has several parts
That familiar sensation of inadequacy and feeling of being of your depth is due to a mix of conditions. Imposter Syndrome often sets in as we start to feel overwhelmed. Typically, an internal or external force triggers this overwhelming feeling. It could be uncertainty about how to handle a business situation, the weight of high expectations from clients or employees, or feeling incapable or unworthy of your position. Amidst this feeling of being overwhelmed, we bombard ourselves with limiting thoughts – which reinforce the negative feelings that we’re already experiencing. From there, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of feeling inadequate, stressed, or depressed. At a basic level, Katrina explains that Imposter Syndrome is a form of anxiety – and it’s totally natural. A bit of anxiety is good for staying motivated and doing our best but taken to an extreme, it holds us back.
FACT #2: There are physical symptoms
Imposter Syndrome isn’t just “all in your head”. Limiting thoughts and mental stress are key aspects of the condition, but physical symptoms are common too. But Katrina emphasises that it’s smart to conduct a self-assessment from time to time. The goal is to make sure that you’re fully aware of your mental and physical state.
FACT #3: We can recognise the factors that cause Imposter Syndrome
It’s important to have these occasional check-ins since we’re often the last ones to realise that something is wrong. More often than not, a co-worker or friend will mention that we seem agitated or look unwell – and then we’ll acknowledge that something is wrong. Katrina mentions that there are four pillars of intervention for Imposter Syndrome:
- Your thoughts
- Your feelings
- Your behaviours
- Your self-beliefs
You can examine and fine-tune each of these areas to help manage your negative feelings. Start by noticing your automatic thoughts – what are you telling yourself when those feelings of being unqualified or incapable creep in? Deep down, are you saying “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve this?” Recognise and remember these thoughts. Next, look at your feelings and behaviours. Identify the underlying emotions or actions that cause these thoughts to occur. Remember that it can take time to recognise these patterns since they’re deeply ingrained in your mind. Finally, as an entrepreneur, you must consider your self-beliefs. Self-beliefs are the paradigms we hold about our capabilities, personality, worth, and other fundamental aspects of ourselves. Again, these thoughts stem from somewhere – so if you have negative self-beliefs, figure out why so that you can work toward positive change.
FACT #4: You can reframe your thinking to reduce or eliminate Imposter Syndrome
Once you understand your thought patterns, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads every time that negative feelings arise. You can choose to fall back into the cycle of Imposter Syndrome or break free by reframing your thoughts. At first, trying to be positive will feel like a struggle. It won’t come naturally, and ironically, this process might create more anxiety at first than going with the flow. However, this anxiety can be a positive force to push you toward healthier ways of thinking. Entrepreneurs travel a tough path that many others don’t. This can lead to feeling isolated, which reinforces Imposter Syndrome. But you can also reframe thoughts of isolation by joining or creating a supportive community. A group of supporters can give you a sense of belonging, which stops Imposter Syndrome in its tracks.
FACT #5: Don’t be afraid to get help
If you’ve done what you can to manage on your own, but haven’t had success, it’s time to seek help. There’s no reason to get stuck in an awful state of mind when there are so many resources out there to assist you. For some, confiding in a friend, spouse, or family member will do the trick. You might just need a supportive and loving person to listen and to remind you of all your great qualities. However, if anxiety, depression, or sadness are ruling your life, professional help may be necessary. A counsellor can teach you highly-effective methods, like grounding exercises to bring you back into the moment or relaxation techniques to restore your peace of mind.
To learn more, tune into the Online Business Launchpad Podcast
If you want to find out more about managing Imposter Syndrome, listen to Episode 42 of the Online Business Launchpad podcast with Katrina Streatfeild. HOT TIP: Remember to subscribe to the OBL podcast for notifications about future episodes and interviews with other business experts, including extra episodes with Katrina, who will be on the podcast every month.