How to Succeed Despite Massive “Imposter Syndrome” (AKA I’m Not “Enough” Yet)

Do you ever feel like you aren’t…

… smart enough,

… experienced enough,

… successful enough,

… brave enough,

… pretty enough,

… “degreed” enough (probably not a word, but hey I don’t have a college degree either, so I’m going to make up words)…

Not “perfect” enough…

… to build a business, write a blog, or do whatever is in your heart to do?

Yeah, me too. Every. Single. Day.

And we aren’t alone.

I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs and bloggers who privately share things like…

– One day my readers are going to realize I don’t know enough about this to be blogging about it…

– I wonder why anyone would read my blog when there are so many better experts out there…

– What if my clients realize I don’t know as much as I think, they think, I do…

– But I’m just getting started, what if someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer…

– What if everyone finds out I failed at (insert your failure here)… or if they find out I messed up with (insert mistakes here)…

That feeling can be scary. And overwhelming.

But you can’t allow it to shut you down!

I’ve made that mistake. I let myself fall into a spiral of fear that because I’m not perfect and I’m not “enough” in my head, maybe I can’t really get out there and do anything worthwhile… maybe I shouldn’t… what might people think?

So what can you do when you feel that way? Here are 3 ways to get through it.

#1 – Acknowledge and Accept It.

I considered titling this post “How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome”…

Then I realized that would be dishonest.

Because I can’t tell you how to overcome it, I can only share how I’ve learned to live with it, breathe through it, and work to take action despite those feelings.

And that’s what I suggest you do as well.

Be honest with yourself when you’re feeling that way, so you can learn to shift those feelings and get through it.

Accept that it might not go away for a while, and that’s okay, because it means you CARE.

When you’re feeling like you aren’t “enough” that’s your soul striving to be more, to evolve, to become better, to not settle for where you’re at but to continue to improve – that’s an awesome thing – so embrace it.

#2 – Be Real and Transparent.

When we worry that others might think something, and discover we’re not what they think… or that something in our past might cause people to look at us differently and as an “imposter”…

The solution is simple but requires your bravest self… ready?

Just be honest.

Be real and transparent.

If I’ve told you myself about my failures, about the areas that I’m working to improve, the things I understand and have experienced and the things I haven’t yet and that I’m learning…

Well, there’s no “imposter” there because you’ve seen the real me.

You aren’t “fake” if you’re simply being you.

I’ll be the first to call myself out for something. I’m not perfect. Have I mentioned I struggle with “Imposter Syndrome”? ;)

#3 – See Both Sides of Yourself

When we struggle with our inadequacies (both the real ones that we want to improve, and the imagined ones in our heads), it can be difficult to see the other parts of who we are…

You know, the successful parts…

If you’ve ever been complimented and responded with “thanks I had good luck” or “well, (insert someone else’s name) really did the work on that” or downplayed or dismissed it… I’m talking to you here.

Stop dismissing your own successes and talents.

Because the best way to really push through “Imposter Syndrome” is to balance yourself out by always remembering that you have amazing qualities and you’ve done awesome things, too.

Each time someone compliments you, STOP, allow yourself to embrace that, and simply say “Thank you.”

If that’s hard for you (because we both know this is hard for me!), and you find you just CAN’T help following up the “thank you” with something else (usually dismissing your success) then try following it with “thank you and I appreciate…” where you can share gratitude with the person delivering the compliment in return.

Here’s What it Really Comes Down to…

And this part is painful for me to write, because it’s as much to myself as it is to you…

Stop it. Stop allowing those feelings to control you, even in small ways. It’s selfish.

The world needs us. Someone is waiting for us.

We’re not going to let our fear of what someone might think or say stop us from getting out there and doing what we’re here to do.

I could use someone to hold my hand cause I would like to hide in a pillow fort with my daughter and color rather than hit publish on this post.

So, are you with me? Leave a comment and let me know…

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16 Comments

  1. Loved this! Thank you!

  2. Love it. Love the pillow fort. We tell ourselves we are waiting for the perfect moment when we will become perfect. That will never come because we will never be perfect. We will never be perfect because we are human but we are unique and that’s what makes each of us fabulous.

  3. Thank you Michelle, just what I needed to hear.

  4. I THINK YOU ARE FANTASTIC!!

  5. Needed to hear it today and you delivered perfectly. Really helped me. Thank you!

  6. I’m SO with you on this. I’ve suffered from the USS (underwhelming self syndrome) through most of my youth, only overcoming it in limited areas as a “slightly more mature child” (aka, adult) caught in the wage-slavery prison of a career. And even today one of the greatest FOEs in my battle to escape into entrepreneurism is my wife. One of my favorites is, “why would anyone pay you to do something that you didn’t go to school for?” Can I get an “amen” on that one?

    1. Amen! Don’t let that stop you, Jim. You can learn more from real life experience and passion than in a classroom…

  7. AMAZING POST… You are AMAZING! :)

    1. Thanks Joe! Appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

  8. Can you say more about how to handle the shame that comes with embracing our failures?

  9. Great post love It

  10. Fabulous post! I’m experiencing huge amounts of imposter syndrome in quite a few areas of life right now. Your post, honest and heartfelt as it is has been a huge encouragement. Thank you.

  11. Thank you, Michelle. I’ve been following you for some time now and I find you a real inspiration and aspiration. And for that I am grateful. x

  12. Thanks for this relevant posting.

    I also battle with this.

    Seeing both sides of yourself sometimes takes an explicit decision to pick the side that can do the work, in spite of what the negative side wants to believe.
    At least that has been my experience when I resolve to choose to look at my experience and my successes rather than listening to the timid little person who is feeling threatened.

    And this takes courage.
    A lot of courage.
    There was a scene in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies where the British officer admonishes his sailors to “Find your courage” that stuck with me and sometimes I tell myself to “find my courage”.

  13. So so relevant for me right now.. going through some changes and trying to step out in faith. As I read your post I stopped to write down all my success to date to act as a reminder and encouragement along the way. Thank you so much!

  14. Thank you Michelle for such a great post. I love reading all of your articles because you write about just what I need to hear. I appreciate everything you do.

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