How to Conquer Imposter Syndrome
We’ve all struggled with it. That little nagging voice inside that pipes up from time to time, whispering thoughts that knock you down and rob your focus. This little voice has enough power to make your practice come to a screeching, paralyzing halt …. if you let it.
What’s the name of this little voice no one likes to hear from? It’s called Imposter Syndrome.
At its core, Imposter Syndrome is the crippling belief that your success isn’t due to your skill but is instead due to luck or fraud.1 Entertaining these beliefs and feelings can make you doubt your value as a practitioner and question your ability to serve your patients well.
If this describes how you’ve felt from time-to-time, you aren’t alone. It’s a phenomenon that plagues the most brilliant minds, famous celebrities, and professionals alike. And it looks different for everyone. Here’s the skinny…
What Does Imposter Syndrome Look Like?
The reasons for feeling like an imposter can be complicated. As a practitioner, it could be due to your own impossibly high standards. Here are five ways that can play out2:
- Perfectionist: If you’re this type of “imposter,” any mistake (even tiny ones) can make you think you’ve failed. Despite others singing your praises, you can’t look past that one thing that you didn’t hit out of the park.
- Flying Solo: You likely started your practice doing it all on your own. So, whenever you have to ask for help, you cringe inside because you weren’t able to handle it by yourself.
- Expert: If you fall into this bucket, you feel like you should know everything about everything within your area of expertise. When your patient asks you a question you don’t immediately know the answer to, you beat yourself up or feel like a failure.
- Superhero: Wellness practitioners are used to wearing many hats, but if this type of Imposter personality describes you, you feel like you have to succeed in ALL areas of your life – flawlessly. Falling short of being everything for everyone while also meeting your own goals stresses you out and makes you feel inadequate.
- Natural Genius: Part of being a successful practitioner is always fine tuning your clinical skills. You might be used to having things come easily for you, so if you have to put in some extra effort or you struggle with a concept, your brain reminds you that you’re a fake.
Each of these five imposter types have one thing in common – unrealistic and unachievable standards.
My friend, this way of thinking puts soooo much pressure on you and doesn’t set you up for success AT ALL. Even more so, it doesn’t reflect the talented, dedicated clinician that I know you are!
So, let’s get some of that heavy junk off your shoulders. Here are five ways you can kick Imposter Syndrome to the curb…
Tip 1: Name It
One of the first steps to conquering those imposter feelings is acknowledging them as soon as they show up. This is an important step that has to happen before you can even think about reframing them or letting them go.
So, whenever those feelings of inadequacy or doubt creep in, try this out:
- Notice the thought. Don’t immediately kick it out of your head. Just observe it.
- Ask yourself, “Does this thought help me or is it holding me back?”
- Then, consider how to create a new mental script. (Check out the next two tips for ideas on how to do this.)
There’s so much power in calling something out when you see it. It’s the first step in learning how to think like a non-imposter!
Tip 2: Write a New Mental Script
Once you’re aware of how Imposter Syndrome shows up, then you can work on the next step – figuring out what to do when it hits. One way to do this is by reframing your thoughts.
Let’s say you just opened up your practice or maybe you recently added a new service. Either way, you’re doing something new. You may have the thought, “It’s only a matter of time before they find out I have no idea what I’m doing and that I’m a total fake…”
When that happens, try telling yourself, “Everyone starts off as a beginner. I may not know every answer, but I’m smart enough to figure it out!”
Flipping this internal script to something more positive will help you to better visualize success. Plus, over time, it’ll actually start to rewire how your brain thinks.
Tip 3: Know the Difference Between Facts and Feelings
Imposter Syndrome is alllll about the feelings. But, just because you feel like a fraud or fake doesn’t mean you are one. And while you may feel like someone is about to call you out and accuse you of being a fake, that doesn’t mean someone’s actually going to do that. In fact, it’s highly likely they won’t.
One way to face these feelings head-on is to ground yourself in the facts. I recommend creating a folder on your computer or in your inbox that you can easily access. Fill it with positive things like:
- emails from patients who have experienced amazing results and sing your praises
- screenshots of some of your rave reviews
- copies of awards, certificates, and professional accomplishments
- photos of you during major milestones, like graduation or when you first opened your practice
Whenever you have moments of doubt, head to this folder for a quick reminder that contains absolute PROOF that you are an exceptional clinician.
Tip 4: Build a Healthy Relationship With Mistake-Making
None of us are perfect, so we know mistakes will happen. This doesn’t mean you’re a total failure. It just means you’re perfectly and completely… human.
And with any mistake comes the opportunity to improve. These moments are like gold! They give you something tangible to work on. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” So, instead of beating yourself up, learn from the mistake and keep moving forward. Because every ‘failure’ is the next step toward your success!
Tip 5: Fake It ‘Til You Make It
The truth is that sometimes, we have no idea what we’re doing and are only flying by the seat of our pants. When a patient comes in with something we haven’t worked with yet, it can be daunting for sure. Instead of letting it stress you out or make you think you’re not cut out for this type of work, flip the script around. Look at it as a chance to learn something new which will only add to your expertise and helps you beat back those imposter feelings with confidence!
You don’t have to wait until you feel totally confident before you start. Once you start changing your thoughts and behavior, your confidence will be soon to follow!
Having a Community Helps
Everyone experiences Imposter Syndrome at some time or another. So, whenever it rears its ugly head and you are forced to wrestle it down, know that you’re in good company. But even more than that, know that it won’t be this way for long.
Finding a solid community of like-minded practitioners – ones who are building thriving practices, can provide encouragement when you aren’t feeling as confident as you’d like. This is why I created Clinical Academy – a place where practitioners can sharpen their clinical skills, connect with like-minded clinicians, and learn how to better serve their patients.
If you’d like to learn more, hop on the VIP Waitlist so you can be the first to know when the doors for enrollment are open. Support is closer than you think!
1. (2017, January 6). What is Impostor Syndrome? | Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/what-is-impostor-syndrome
2. (n.d.). The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable …. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Thoughts-Successful-Women-Impostor/dp/0307452719