Imposter syndrome, friend or foe

plane

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about how often the feeling of inadequacy comes up in this industry, or for that matter in any profession that can be deemed creative. I think creative people put themselves in the limelight with their creation, be it a book or a part in a film and when the idea they are exposed solidifies, fear rears its ugly head. If you have been following me, you will know I have been doing a series of posts on the Imposter Syndrome. My friend who is extremely talented and well-known, and I (okay working on the talent and the well-known part) suffer the same effects.

Whether we call it a syndrome (long term) or a phenomenon (short term) is irrelevant.  Feeling like an imposter is far from pleasant (for more information on the difference click on  the link); it is  depleting and damaging and happens to the famous and the those at the start of their careers. The condition impinges on our confidence and thus on our mental outlook. I personally think of it as an infection.

woundAn infection treated is nothing, an infection ignored can kill. I once had a splinter so minute I was embarrassed to complain about the pain it was causing even after it came out. I felt ridiculous whinging about a tiny pin prick, a pretty pink colour until the colour changed to a  nasty red and stopped movement in my whole finger.

Doubting ourselves, feeling foolish, feeling like a pretender, feeling we are not good enough is a wound, and untreated it will fester.  So, what are possible solutions, are there solutions or should we ask is it really the problem we think it is? Can we narrow it down? Angela Kambouris, a leadership coach who has spent 20 years working with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behaviour and business, says some interesting things in a thrive global post. She believes in keeping her philosophy simple – unlock human potential.  We can’t do that if we let our fears rule us making us believe we are not good enough. We can’t be responsible for holding ourselves back.

Self-doubt, an enemy or a friend

friend or foeThe first step in overcoming something is to accept there is a problem. We have worked hard, and it has put us out there where we are looked at and we are heard. We start to get nervous; do we really know what we are doing? Someone is going to notice that we are not that good, that perhaps our success was just a matter of luck. Or worse we ask ourselves the dreaded who do we think we are question.

unexpected-obsession-web-coverYou know what? If you’re out there, then it means you have succeeded (in a small or in a big way doesn’t matter); you are out there. You therefore have reason, good reason to be afraid. You are balancing as my leading lady Lia says in Unexpected Obsessionon a surfboard the size of my thumbnail riding a wave so high it has its own flight path. I can’t afford to fall off.”   She couldn’t and neither can we.

Why don’t we rephrase our thinking instead? Rather than viewing self-doubt as a negative, lets view it as a positive. Of course, we doubt. As hard-working people, we want to maintain a level. So, what has gotten us this far and how can we keep it up and improve should be the focus.

The trick is not to compare

The way forward is to eliminate comparisons and that includes our previous actions. Today is a new day allowing us to learn from yesterday and launch into tomorrow. Do you know how many authors are out there? I don’t know the exact number, but I know it’s a lot, and it does my head in. I blame social media because it is an in your face medium showcasing people who appear to be doing better than you because of the number of followers and likes they have that you don’t.

The truth is, whether in writing or any other profession, some do it easy, some do well, some do it badly and still succeed, some work above and beyond and get no-where. Why? How? Who cares? The whole why them and not me, I just don’t have what it takes is more exhausting than the syndrome itself. Comparisons serve no purpose. 

Learning is what counts – it counteracts

What matters is what we learn from other people, find what we like, can relate to. In writing it involves looking at things like, does their writing flow, are their characters believable, do these writers doubt themselves too and what do they do to combat this?

surfboard

Learn but don’t compare. That doesn’t mean we can’t notice things that we may wish to adopt or avoid but that comes under learning. Concentrating on learning keeps us working, working helps us achieve what is right for us. Once again it seems to be a matter of rephrasing our thinking, and staying on the surfboard.

Angela uses the following quote from Henry Ford. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” She says that when “you feel like a fraud, you are doing something right.” Maybe changing berate to celebrate each small step of the way might also help. What do you think?

Till next time, ciao

Barb

 

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One Comment

  1. I love this, “changing berate to celebrate.” This was a really insightful article and you are absolutely right—learning is the best weapon against imposter syndrome. I’ve begun taking writing classes and I feel so much more empowered in my stories.

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