How to overcome impostor syndrome this year
You’ve got big plans for this year, and you’ve positioned yourself to make some life-changing moves. That’s great, but what happens when your own thoughts start to get the best of you? You have to be prepared to fight those internal battles that threaten your success. Self-doubt is arguably the worst of these battles. Whether you’re a musician, painter or poet, you have probably experienced the level of doubt known as impostor syndrome.
How impostor syndrome starts
It’s that moment when you begin to question your own talent. You start telling yourself that you’re really no good at what you do and that you’ve just had a few lucky breaks. You worry that at any moment someone will discover your secret, and the entire world will know you’re a fraud. This paralyzing feeling is so terrifying that it can send you into a long creative rut or convince you to give up forever.
This is a natural phase, especially for creatives. However, if you want to be great, you have to find ways to nip impostor syndrome in the bud. A few small rituals and a circle of support can go a long way when those tricky thoughts begin creeping into your psyche.
Keep a record
One way to battle the lies you tell yourself is to create your own personal brag book. Grab a small notebook or journal and write down everything you’ve ever done that makes you proud. Make a note of that day one of your biggest influences gave you a shout out on Twitter, or when a local museum featured one of your paintings.
If you prefer, you can create a digital folder chronicling all your awesomeness. Fill it with links to your best work or screenshots of appreciative emails or comments of praise. You can even jot down things in your phone’s notepad.
What’s important is that you keep a record of all your success. Whenever you start feeling like a phony, you’ll have something that proves otherwise. Remembering even your smallest accomplishments can give you a little confidence boost that will help lift you out of your creative slump.
Create a playlist
Throwing on some music while you work might seem like a no-brainer, but impostor syndrome is no punk. It’s creativity kryptonite and it won’t be scared away by the everyday background noise you leave playing in your workspace — you’ll need a special playlist to battle this demon. Start by compiling a list of songs that make you feel invincible.
Much like the brag book, the playlist is all about what’s important to you. Whether you load it up with Peter Tosh or Kevin Gates is entirely up to you. Just make sure it includes every song that has ever given you even an ounce of inspiration. When you’re done building your list, crank it up loud. Once you’re feeling like the most confident, talented version of yourself, get to work.
Don’t stop there. Any time you come across a new song that gives you that ‘unstoppable’ feeling, add it to the list. Eventually, you’ll have a never-ending superhero soundtrack to help ignite your creativity.
If you’re having a hard time pulling yourself out of your creative slump, you might have to call in the troops. Pick up the phone and call someone you know has your back in any situation. Whether it’s Mom, Grandma, or your favorite cousin, you need to hear a word from someone who considers your worst work a masterpiece. Although their praise might be a little biased and completely unwarranted, it’s usually enough to get you back to work.
So, maybe Mom’s cheerleading isn’t nearly convincing enough and your creative engine is still stalling. Reach out to another creative friend or colleague that knows all about your work and who can probably relate to how you’re feeling. These are the people that will tell you to get over yourself and get to work. Knowing that someone just as talented as yourself believes in you can make all the difference.
Find a cure
You can bet that almost everyone in every line of work has had moments where they second-guess their abilities. With artistic types, those moments are probably much more severe. It’s okay to doubt yourself, but it’s not okay to wallow in it forever. If none of these things work, find something that gets you over your impostor syndrome and back to creating in confidence.
What other ways do you combat impostor syndrome? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published at blavity.com on January 14, 2016.