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Bill Bergeman


Do You Ever Feel Imposter Syndrome?

If so, and I know you do, here are 10 ways to recognize it for what it truly is - and to make it work for us, not against us.

    1. Imposter Syndrome is fake news.

    It's our mind's way of sending a message to our egos that we need to hide and protect ourselves because the world might judge us. But, the message is not based on reality. We must send a better message to our egos, one that says we have confidence in what we do, not fear.

    2. Vulnerability is a strength.

    "I don't know" are three of the most powerful words we can speak. The feeling of being an imposter does not allow for such vulnerability. Our egos are arrogant enough to believe we should know everything. But, we don't. Try to say I don't know more often when you aren't sure of an answer and see just how many people are accepting of such vulnerability. In fact, it will probably open them up to be more vulnerable with you as well.

    3. Everyone feels it. EVERYONE.

    Yet somehow people get through their days without dying. Know that we're not alone, and those people from whom we fear being judged are concerned about being judged themselves.

    4. Imposter Syndrome does not exist anywhere in the universe except in our own minds.

    Our minds are extraordinarily powerful. What we feel is what we believe, and what we believe becomes reality. This is magical when we are trying to create beauty through alchemy, but it can also destroy us when we feel insecure about our knowledge or skill level. Change how you feel about insecurity and magically your reality around it will change.

    5. No one started running the day they were born.

    Likewise, no one effortlessly rides a bicycle on the first attempt, no one hits the bullseye the first time they shoot, and no one hits the ball the first time they swing a bat. Such is the case for everything. So, why should we expect to be perfect when we just started learning something new? If you're concerned about how someone will judge you, simply say, "Excuse me, I'm just starting to learn how to do X, so please bear with me." Everyone will understand because everyone has had the same experience.

    6. Treat imposter syndrome as a treasured friend.

    If we treat this unique feeling of insecurity as a good friend who is helping us get better at something rather than a dastardly foe who must be overcome, we can empower ourselves to get better, learn more, and be stronger. It's all in how we perceive it.

    7. Imagine the worst-case scenario.

    This classic Stoic tactic can help us manage the most stressful situations induced by imposter syndrome. Typically such scenarios include things like speaking in front of an audience about a topic we don't know much about or leading a work project for which we don't have experience. It's that fear of being judged as incompetent by many people at once. Sit alone and visualize this scenario over and over again. Imagine every terrible thing happening - people jeering, pure silence from a team whenever you tell them to do something, anything we think could crush our tender egos. Then imagine handling it. Imagine responding in a kind and understanding manner. Imagine saying, "Sorry, I don't know." Is it all so terrible?

    8. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

    Besides being a catchy slogan, "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway" is also the title of one of my favorite books. The title says it all: We're never going to be rid of fear, so the next best option is to act in spite of it. Never let fear of being judged as unworthy stop you from doing what you want to do.

    9. Embody the feeling of success.

    We've all succeeded at something. Remember that moment. How did you feel? Was there a part of your body that lit up? Can you recreate the moment in your mind? Try and go back and really capture that memory and its related thoughts and feelings, and then open up that file folder whenever the feeling of imposter syndrome arises. Doing so will not only help us get through a moment of insecurity, but it can also demonstrate that imposter syndrome is nothing but an illusion of our imaginations.

    10. Sometimes Tom Hanks feels like a fraud.

    To underscore the point that everyone feels imposter syndrome at times, read this article about the struggles some of the most accomplished people in the world have had with this illusory feeling: https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/12-leaders-entrepreneurs-and-celebrities-who-have/30427

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