A familiar feeling that creeps up on every creative person is impostor syndrome.
You know that one that makes you doubt so much that you are unable to create, think, or take risks. The feeling that makes you look at all you have ever done and call it crap.
Raise a hand if you know how this feels. And keep it up if after reading all those impostor syndrome articles you still feel like a con artist.
Hands still up? Well so are mine. I doubt that any creative person ever stops feeling like an impostor. But I know that as you grow more skilled and confident, the distances between episodes of paralyzing demoralizing doubt reduce. One day we might find a way to be totally free of Impostor Syndrome. But for now, I will share some of the things that helped me.
1. Write it all down
When you feel like an impostor, your brain drowns in thoughts of incompetence, fears, and failures. It gets too much to sort out.
Try writing all the thoughts down in a journal. On a piece of paper. Just get it out of your head and see how different it looks in the light.
This is how you can see what fears are valid.
Sorting through all of this is hard. But it gives you perspective. It lets you know why you think you are not good enough. From here you can start working on each one.
2. Build a support team
Your friends are your biggest cheerleaders. While some might be biased, telling you only good things, there are a few that tell you the truth.
My friends’ belief in me and my art is the one thing that keeps pushing me through.
Go back to the conversations. Listen to the messages they sent praising you for success. Remember all the good things they have said about you and what you do.
3. Build your skills
Impostor syndrome is strongest when you feel you are not skilled. If you are sure you do need to learn a thing or two, do something about that. I know that one of the things that nagged at me was that I was a con man posing to be a content marketer. So I started reading up on content marketing. I started a certification course.
Apply this to your context. As you learn more and do, you will gain confidence.
4. Stop being selfish
Spending your day all day thinking about yourself is selfish. Hear me out before you get your pitchforks. When you are afraid to start a blog or to launch your personal brand because you feel you are not good enough, you focus on yourself. We don’t start businesses only to make money, we set them up to help others.
Understand that if you do not set up your personal brand, sharing advice, and delivering good services, people will suffer.
In my case, I realized I need to share what I know to stop young writers from making mistakes. It is not about me or you. It is about the people we are touching daily.
5. Acknowledge every accomplishment
Doubting yourself comes naturally when you have forgotten what you have done. When you are overcome by the impostor syndrome, you see all you have done in dim light or you do not see it at all.
You have to take control of your thoughts. Write down your accomplishments. Ask people to tell you about the remarkable stuff you have done. Focus on all the beautiful things your mind had come up with.
I found it easier to breathe when I got messages from people telling me they found what I wrote helpful. Sometimes the job of reassuring yourself falls on your shoulders.
6. Know the pros are human too
Consider the fact for once that everyone you look up too is a human. Then ponder on the fact that humans are flawed. These industry leaders and pros have fears too.
Reading about two of the women I look up to in content marketing has helped me. Diana Briceño shared how she was insecure about a lot of things. Felicia Sullivan also shared about how she struggled before coming this far.
It reminded me that there is nothing wrong with being imperfect. The only mistake you would make is to remain that way moping about your disadvantages.
7. Stop comparing
I advised you to read or follow others that are pros at this. But I also have to warn you. Please do not compare yourself to them. Everyone has their own journey. If you are trying to be everything someone else is you will fail. It’s that simple.
Focusing on these people and not applying what they do to your own context is dangerous. Learn from them. Respect them. But remember to be you.
I hope these help you crush impostor syndrome. Even if it’s for a day, push past it and do what you need to do. When it comes back again, look at these steps again. Remember to own your thoughts, guiding them to the things you have done. Keep improving at what you do making sure you focus on giving to your customers. While you look up to people, never compare yourself to them.
Having Impostor Syndrome presents you with a unique opportunity of getting to the root of every fear and doubt you have. You will discover some of the thoughts you have are true. Some others will be made up lies. Knowing which is what is all you need to start making things better.
It is okay to be imperfect.
What has helped you fight impostor syndrome?
This article was originally published on Medium.