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May 23, 2024 4 min read

Hey there, everyone. Brendan here, as I so often am; I wanted to write a bit today about something that I think affects a lot of people, not just in the small business sphere. It's a potential issue that can crop up for anyone, regardless of age, life experience or career advancement. The most common name for it is simply 'impostor syndrome,' and though it's a simple enough thing to define, that can mask how nefarious and burdensome it truly is. 

Impostor syndrome is characterized by a persistent belief that you're not as competent as others perceive you to be. Despite tangible accomplishments, those suffering from this condition often attribute their achievements to external factors such as luck, timing, or the help of others, rather than their own skills or hard work.

It's often described as feeling like a fraud, and supersedes simple anxiety about one's own work performance or capabilities; indeed, it invalidates those assets and turns them back on people, making them doubt as to whether the successes they've achieved were earned or valid in the first place. 

In planning for this blog I took the opportunity of talking to many people in my life about their own experiences with this condition. Though not everyone knew the name of it, when I listed its effects, it was almost immediately clear that they had met impostor syndrome before, and had developed different coping strategies to confront and overcome it.

There are a variety of ways to do this, but one should be wary, as not all of them are healthy. One person I talked to, for example, admitted that they overworked themselves as a way to compensate for perceived inadequacies. Here, instead, are some beneficial ways that you can brace yourself against these feelings: 

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: The first step in overcoming impostor syndrome is recognizing and acknowledging your feelings. Understand that it’s common to feel this way and that you are not alone; there are millions of people dealing with impostor syndrome every single day. If it's becoming an overwhelming and/or constant issue, consider speaking with a professional. 

  2. Celebrate Your Achievements: Keep a record of your accomplishments and positive feedback; I personally suggest using a journal or writing down what you've accomplished on your calendar and keeping it to look at when you need a boost. Regularly reviewing these can help reinforce your self-worth and remind you of your capabilities.

  3. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Replace self-doubt with evidence-based affirmations. When negative thoughts arise, counter them with facts about your skills and successes. You may not feel that you've accomplished much, but as we often say here at Nakee, "you're doing better than you think you are." 

  4. Seek Support: Talk about your feelings with trusted friends, mentors, co-workers, or a therapist. Sharing your experiences can help you gain perspective and reduce feelings of isolation. Journaling these feelings and putting them on paper can help them feel less nebulous and powerful. 

  5. Embrace Imperfection: Accept that perfection is unattainable and that making mistakes is a natural part of growth. Focus on learning and improvement rather than flawless performance. Making peace with the fact that nothing and no one is perfect is almost considered a cliche at this point, but it's also a vital part of progress in life.

  6. Set Realistic Goals: Break down larger tasks into manageable steps and set achievable goals. Celebrate small victories along the way to build confidence gradually. Writing down your goals, both short and long-term, is a great way of making them feel more approachable and attainable. 

  7. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a friend. Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel uncertain and that you deserve success and happiness. There are some of you reading this right now who believe that you're an exception to that statement, but you aren't! 

Even through the course of writing this blog and discussing this topic, I myself experienced impostor syndrome! To some degree, it felt wrong discussing this topic as a relative newbie to working in small business, not to mention the almost automatic denial that I feel when I'm told about how important my contributions are to Nakee.

Even writing that was a struggle to try and accept it, but looking back at the things I've created and written for Nakee still fills me with an immense sense of personal pride. I've got to spread the word on things that matter, and hopefully contribute to people overcoming their struggles. I'm working on embracing my contributions, and I hope that you all are too. 

The thing I always struggle with in regards to that is the notion of the ruthless comparison, as I call it. A habit that's so easy to fall into, where you compare yourself to someone in a similar situation or career and say they're outdoing you. It's easy to point to them and say that they're further along on their career track or became more successful in less time, but that comparison is never fair to the person making it.

It doesn't account for the many, many differences that exist between every one of us regarding our experiences, our abilities and the innumerable other factors of life that bring us to the present. Do your best to be cognizant of the ruthless comparison, and try to avoid it, because it's never beneficial. It's just one of the nasty tricks of impostor syndrome, and it doesn't reflect your own success fairly or fully. 

Thanks for hearing me out today, everyone. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to deal with this sort of thing, but we need to remember we're not alone when facing our struggles. Here's another resource or two on impostor syndrome. Also, keep an eye out for a TikTok from Steffani this Friday sharing a few of her own experiences with impostor syndrome and the resources and experiences she uses to overcome it. Thanks for reading; this is Brendan, signing off for now.

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