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20 Apr 2020

Overcoming imposter syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome

Founding and running your own business can be hugely rewarding; a place to explore your passion and express your values. It can also at times feel like one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. This current period of uncertainty and business disruption can amplify negative thinking, but here I will share how you can kick self-sabotage to the curb.


We all talk to ourselves!

You’re not alone. Every single one of us has an inner voice, a stream of mental chatter that can fill our headspace. As human beings we’re lucky to have an incredible processor between our ears. Your brain is amazing, enabling your body and mind to achieve so much. However, your brain is hard wired to avoid uncertainty as it associates it with danger. This automatic response to the unknown of feeling scared and anxious means that unhelpful thoughts start to pop up. Feelings of being a fraud, unprepared and not capable, start to rumble… “Someone else could run my business better”, “This is too big for me to take on”, “My customers won’t go for this”… the list can be endless!

This natural reaction doesn’t help you deal with life’s challenges, instead this self-doubt can derail you. Left unchallenged your negative mental chatter can go into overdrive so here’s how you can switch gears.


Turning Negative Thoughts into Positive Actions

Not only can you mute your unhelpful thoughts; you can create positive changes to help you shift your mindset and pivot your business in these challenging times.


1. Resist Making Stuff Up!

Part of our brain’s incredible ability is its creativity and imagination. Fantastic for problem solving, but these attributes can also be your downfall if you’re not careful. You can get caught up creating the most elaborate scenarios of what may happen in the future, and they’re generally not positive. You may also be super quick to jump to assumptions, not only about how situations will play out but what others will think about you and your business. This fiction serves one purpose - to undermine your self-confidence and trigger self-doubt. These are the best friends of imposter syndrome, so we need to challenge the fiction. Remember that your incredible brain has simply made up stuff that will most probably never happen.

Points to remember:

  • Be mindful if you’re creating fiction. Switch on your self-awareness radar and do a ‘fact check’ of what you know. This will help you spot if you’re making stuff up.
  • Remember why your mind can be unhelpful at times. It’s an automatic fear response creating stories that aren’t true.


2. Ask Yourself: What Would I Say to a Friend?

Imagine that a friend came to you and voiced their lack of confidence and doubts about a situation. How would you respond? Odds are that you wouldn’t dive straight in, agreeing that they’re right to feel incompetent, that they’re simply winging it and on a path to disaster! Instead, you would take time to consider what you know, approaching the situation with rational thinking; logical reflection, asking questions, examining the facts and exploring the reasoning. You would also be kind and considerate when responding. You wouldn’t patronise, snigger or go on the attack. Now compare that response with how you interact with your own inner critic. Often you will be thinking with your emotions. Your brain is firing automatic responses to the uncertainty of the situation rather than taking a step back to rationally assess the situation.

Points to remember:

  • Engage your rational brain. Logical thinking will help you take control of your thoughts and feelings and rein in unhelpful negative thinking.
  • Be kind to yourself, you would never speak to a friend in the way that you sometimes speak to yourself.


3. Know Your Zone!

Your comfort zone is where you feel confident and self-assured. Imposter syndrome will very rarely raise its head when you’re in this zone. Your negative mental chatter turns up the volume when you’re uncomfortable. When going after new opportunities, learning a new skill, experimenting with new ideas, operating in different situations, there is an element of the unknown. Remember, your brain’s automatic response associates the unknown with danger – it is hard wired to keep you safe. It doesn’t recognise that being out of your comfort zone can be hugely beneficial and fulfilling. To combat that, focus on the potential positive outcomes and embrace stretching in your challenge zone knowing that’s where you and your business can grow. Aim to continually expand your comfort zone, so you feel confident doing heaps of stuff in different situations.

Points to remember:

  • Your negative mental chatter gets louder when you’re uncomfortable; recognise that as a sign that you’re challenging you and your business, ultimately helping it grow.
  • Focus on the positive of being outside of your comfort zone – rather than concentrate on what could go wrong, instead think about what could go well.

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About the author: 

roo-davies-the-mojo-coachRoo Davies, is an accredited Life and Business Coach passionate about helping people gain clarity and shift mindset and behaviour in both their personal and professional lives. She works with business owners to help them overcome self-sabotage, find purpose, build resilience and ultimately enjoy the journey! Roo also works with organisations to coach their leaders and teams and regularly speaks at wellbeing and business events.



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