Dealing with Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome When You're an Entrepreneur
Talking about self-doubt and imposter syndrome is something I think Entrepreneurs need to discuss more often.
It's tough, because you want to believe in your dream and to assure people that you know what you're doing. You should feel confident in your business pursuits. After all, you have to believe in your dream even when no one else is.
Self-doubt and imposter syndrome is a real emotional and psychological challenge that plagues more Entrepreneurs than people like to admit.
I had (and still have) my moments where I feel like a total fraud in a room with other professionals who I look up to and admire. The crazy part is that the people I look up to also suffer from imposter syndrome from time to time.
Imposter Syndrome affects everyone and a recent study done by American and German scientists revealed that, "Men with impostor syndrome tended to crumble under pressure much more than the women who suffered from the same feelings."
How did the women do?
The researchers found, "In contrast, female students with high imposter feelings responded to harsh feedback by increasing their effort and showing superior performance."
Regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, learning how to cope with self-doubt and imposter syndrome is an important skill. Below, I put together a list of how I've dealt with these negative feelings since starting my business, LN Creative Group, a couple years ago. I hope it helps you as you work through these emotions.
Acknowledge the Feeling
First thing to do is to acknowledge your feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Just notice them without engaging it. Be aware of your feelings, and then slowly figure out why you're feeling that way.
Reframe Your Mindset
Look at your situation from another perspective and reframe your thinking. Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Are you trying to be perfect? Your mind can race in intense situations or challenging environments. Learning how to control your mind and automatic negative thoughts is an important skill for success.
I used to respond to all challenges with a voice in my head saying, "You need to fix this! This is an emergency!" I would then get all worked up, and let my mind race. "If you don't resolve this, then you're not as good as others." It may seem silly to some (including me now), but in the heat of the moment that's how these thoughts would build in me.
Instead, I had to learn to be calm, breathe, and reframe my mindset to any challenges that comes into my life. Now, my auto reaction is to not have a reaction. I've trained myself to be my own friend and talk myself down whenever I'm feeling anxious.
Share Your Experiences
There is nothing that helps me overcome my sense of self-doubt and imposter syndrome more than sharing it with my husband, Chris, or my most trusted friends. They truly help me put things into perspective and remind me of why I'm doing what I'm doing.
Sharing your experiences is an excellent method for gaining greater clarity and realizing that the world is so much bigger than you and your problems alone. It’s part of the reason why I started reading about stoic philosophy to help me cope as an entrepreneur.
Stop the Comparison Game
It's easy to go online and see someone else achieving all their goals with shiny new photos and opportunities. You're happy for them, but you get a tinge of jealously. You then start to compare yourself to them. Your mind begins to spiral and now you no longer believe how great you truly are.
Comparing yourself to someone else is a dangerous habit. The reality is... No one else is you, and that is your power.
Write it Down
Some of the best entrepreneurs I know keep a journal of some kind. I've kept a journal for the majority of my life not knowing what it really meant. I loved writing as a child and still do. Maybe you don't like writing, but I'm still encouraging you to write it down. Don't look at it as a chore but more of an avenue to express yourself - like painting, drawing, making music, etc.
Making the effort to mentally unload in a journal is one of the most therapeutic activities I know of. It not only helps you work through your problems, but it's really nice to simply write down all your thoughts, fears, worries in a safe place.
everyone is figuring it out
Have you ever felt like everyone else has it all figured out? They seem to be doing really well and everyone admires them. Truth is - nobody has any idea what they're doing. They're all just doing their best. Startups fail all the time. People change careers, attitudes, perspectives, locations all the time.
To get over self-doubt and imposter syndrome, you must realize that no one knows what they're doing. And that takes a lot of pressure off. There are no rules in life or business. You just have to figure out what works for you individually.
Everyone - and I mean everyone - who embarks on an entrepreneurial journey will come face-to-face with imposter syndrome and self-doubt at some point.
Try out some of these tips and let me know where you are on your entrepreneurial journey. Leave me a link to your website in the comments section and how you deal with imposter syndrome below.