If you have ever experienced the rise and fall of having a great idea and then stopping dead in your tracks with a tidal wave of doubt, you have probably experienced Imposter Syndrome. This uncomfortable wave is a psychological pattern of doubt that we experience regarding our skills, talents, place or belonging. It can creep in slowly or hit you suddenly and like a paralyzing bolt of lightning. It can happen to anyone, and if you have a small business, you’ll likely encounter this feeling as you take on so many new roles necessary for running a business.
There are a variety of types of Imposter Syndrome, and understanding the motivation in your mind might help to recognize those moments of self-doubt and move past them. Once you can recognize what’s happening, it becomes easier to acknowledge those feelings without allowing them to be in control.
Understand the types of Imposture Syndrome:
The first step to combatting imposter syndrome is to understand how it affects you and why. Once we understand why these feelings happen it’s easier to objectively catch ourselves in the moment of doubt. When you understand where your doubt is coming from it’s a little bit easier to dismantle it and move forward through it.
The Perfectionist - this person sets high goals for themselves and then feels disappointed when they don’t accomplish all of them, even when 99% of the goals are accomplished. This perpetuates a feeling of never completely accomplishing what they want to and facing new goals with that feeling.
The Expert - this person needs to know everything about a topic before starting a project. This desire to be an expert before diving in sounds like good quality but can be limiting in our explorations.
The Natural Genies - this person might be used to things coming to them easily in the past and struggle with feelings of deep uncertainty when they encounter a challenge that doesn’t come as easy to them and most things seem to.
The Soloist - this person feels a need to do things on their own, rarely asks for help and often feels as if they have failed if assistance is required or accepted to accomplish a goal.
The Superwoman/man - this person needs to outperform others to prove that they are not a fraud, which is an exhausting dance that no one is watching.
Manage those feelings of self-doubt
Imposter Syndrome usually pops up when you leave your comfort zone and start trying new things - which is a crucial part of a new business. Especially a small business, you are now the social media manager and accountant and PR and inventory manager and every other role you need to play as a small business. The potential to feel like an imposter is coming at us from every angle!
Unsurprisingly, imposter syndrome is commonly tied to the world of social media. The opportunity for these feelings to seep into our minds is much more likely when we are following other businesses from the same industry or area and the constant comparison in our minds can become exhausting. We see others growing and taking a new road and we wonder if that’s the road we should be on, and sometimes we stop moving forward altogether because the self-doubt for our vision is so strong. To keep your vision crisp and clear and protect your energy you can unfollow accounts that affect you negatively or throw off the confidence in your journey.
Spending intentional time nourishing your self-esteem can be helpful if are you being held back by fear from plunging into those new avenues of growth. Remember yourself when you first started and how much you’ve improved on the things that you’re doing. In a year you will be so much further than today but not without the growing pains and awkwardness that will make you feel like an imposter along the way.
Focus on the success you’ve had, both big and small. Write down three big things and three small things that you’ve overcome or accomplished since you began and keep those tucked into your mind like ammunition ready to fire down a moment of self-doubt. Start training your brain to bring up those positive successes when you fall into a pit of self-doubt.
Be a nice boss to yourself and be kind through the growing pains. The road is long and bumpy but if you take good care of your vehicle you’ll get where you want to eventually.