Feel Like a Phony? Here are 7 Ways to Beat Impostor Syndrome – BioTrust Radio #44

Written by Tim Skwiat and Shawn Wells

impostor syndrome

Do you feel like a fraud, a phony who’s on the verge of being found out? Are you worried that people are going to “find you out” for who you really are and what you really know — or don’t know? Do you struggle with often-crippling anxiety and a fear of failure? Do you feel stymied by self-doubt? Do you tend to attribute your success to “luck?” Are you quick to discount positive feedback? If any of this sounds familiar, there’s a good chance that you’re a victim of impostor syndrome, and you’re not alone. This is the topic of discussion in this episode of BioTrust Radio, and we’re also going to serve up 7 ways to beat impostor syndrome. Enjoy!

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“Success will never be a big step in the future; success is just a small step taken now.” – Jonatan Mårtensson

In this episode of BioTrust Radio, Shawn and Tim discuss impostor syndrome, and thanks to an assist from Ellen Bard from GoodZenLife.com, share 7 Tips to Embrace Your Success (and Stop Feeling Like A Fraud). If you’re not familiar with impostor syndrome, researchers define it as an “internal experience of intellectual phoniness” in individuals who are highly successful but unable to internalize their success. Impostor syndrome can interfere with feelings of well-being, and it can contribute to intense feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and fear of failure.

Why do we know about impostor syndrome? Why do we feel like we can talk about it? Like so many others — including you, quite likely — we have experienced it; we struggle with it. We’re not immune to it and the crippling effects it can have on us. We feel like this is a very important topic to discuss, and we want to help others who may be dealing with impostor syndrome.

Here are some of the things we’ll cover in this podcast, including 7 ways to beat impostor syndrome:

  • What is impostor syndrome? Who is most likely to be a victim of impostor syndrome?
  • How do Shawn and Tim experience and deal with impostor syndrome in their lives?
  • How come the more we learn and know, the more we realize we don’t know?
  • Why are successful people more likely to be a victim of impostor syndrome?
  • In order to beat impostor syndrome, you need to start with where you are. Research estimates that roughly 3 out of 4 adults struggle with impostor syndrome. Consider taking the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale Test (see resources below) to see how much impostor syndrome is (or isn’t) affecting you and your life.
  • Another key step to combating impostor syndrome is to connect with other impostors. If you struggle with impostor syndrome, you’re not alone, and connecting with others who share similar experiences and feelings can help.
  • If you want to beat impostor syndrome, you need to just stick to just the facts. Do you commonly attribute your successes to luck? Do you attribute your failures to your own abilities? Accept good feedback and PROVIDE constructive, specific feedback. What did I do well, what can I do better?
  • Knocking perfectionism on its head is a crucial piece of the impostor syndrome puzzle. Perfectionism is impossible. Out of mistakes comes learning and breakthroughs.
  • Beating impostor syndrome isn’t easy. You need to be at your full strength, and that means you need to take care of self-care.
  • Be realistic about others’ achievements is a key component of your impostor syndrome recovery. We tend to compare apples to oranges. We compare our mistakes and imperfections with the picture-perfect façade that others might portray. Set healthy, realistic expectations for and others — and communicate them effectively.
  • In order to really overcome impostor syndrome, you need to decide to thrive. Folks who struggle with impostor syndrome often have an “inner critic.” Learn to silence those voices in your head; or, turn them into motivation and inspiration.

We’ll discuss these 7 ways to beat impostor syndrome and much, much more! And how about you? Do you struggle with impostor syndrome? How has it affected you? How do you deal with it?

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Transcript – 7 Ways to Beat Impostor Syndrome

Shawn: Hello BioTrust Nation. It is me, Shawn Wells, your host, along with Tim Skwiat, your other host and just amazingly brilliant and handsome, and super‑nice. Just a great teacher, great student. I love being around Tim.

Tim: Oh, thanks, Shawn. Yeah, right back at you, brother. We have a lot of esteem for one another and we are very privileged to be here together, to really just talk among ourselves, but get to share our conversations with all you listeners who we greatly appreciate.

Shawn: Absolutely.

Tim: And today, actually, to kind of lead things off, we actually wanted to share some of the reviews that we’ve been getting about BioTrust Radio on iTunes.

Shawn: Awesome.

Tim: So I’m going to read a couple of reviews, customer reviews that we’ve gotten on iTunes, and I’m going to share the username. And if I’m reading your review, will you email me at [email protected] and I’m going to send you a free product of your choice. And we encourage listeners who haven’t left a review or rating to leave a review or rating on iTunes. It’s one of the faster ways for us to expand our reach and help more people and grow our podcast.

Shawn: And we appreciate honest feedback.

Tim: Yeah, definitely.

Shawn: We don’t just need your 5-star reviews. I mean, that would be extremely helpful and I hope that we are putting out 5-star content, and we are resonating with some of you. If we are, then please let us know because we appreciate those people. It keeps us going and keeps us focused and happy, and we all love that right type of praise for when we do good work.

But, we also need constructive criticism, and if there’s something that we’re lacking that we need to do on the show, let us know. If there’s something that we’re doing that frustrates you, let us know. We want to make this show be the best it can possibly be and reach the most people we possibly can, with the best content and really improve and change lives for the better.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely Shawn. And kind of along those same lines is if you have topics, questions, things like that you want to hear us discuss on future episodes, let us know that too.

Shawn: Yeah.

Tim: I mean, BioTrust Radio is fueled by you and we want to talk to you in the way that you want to hear.

Okay, so the first customer 5-star review on iTunes is titled Well-Balanced and Inspiring, from GirlInOrange, who says, “Just discovered your podcasts. They’re great. I love the positive energy and focus on overall well-being over any specific fad or product. I learn something inspiring in each podcast and I’ve shared them with my partner. He’s been inspired by the morning routines podcast. Thanks.”

Well, thank you, GirlInOrange. That’s awesome.

Shawn: Yes, thank you so much.

Tim: And let’s see here. Here’s another 5-star review from Pintada13. It’s titled, Such Good Info and Not Just Physical Health. And the review says, “Love how Shawn and Tim delve into things to make your life better all-around; not just physically, but including mental health and happiness as well.”

So, GirIInOrange, Pintada, we really appreciate you guys sharing your rating and review and if you can email me at [email protected], we’ll get in contact and I’ll send you a free product.

Shawn: Cool. Well, thank you guys. We really do appreciate it. And we’ll start doing that every episode. And like Tim said, we will have a product for you for you leaving your review and us reading it on air.

So, getting into the subjects, 7 Tips to Embrace Your Success and Stop Feeling Like a Fraud. This is an article by Ellen Bard, who is a personal growth writer and expert. And I’ve dealt with impostor syndrome before in the past, and I think most people that have the passion to want to do something but have felt fear hold them back, deal with this. It’s a crippling fear, at times, that you don’t deserve to be there. You’re going to fall short of expectations. And the weight of you falling short and the frustration of you not maybe supposed to be there, like this feeling that you feel, can be overwhelming at times.

And I know I’ve dealt with it, despite my success, despite all the things I’ve accomplished in this career that I wanted to accomplish. I feel like I should always feel like I’m one in a million and what I’ve done is amazing, and I should be proud of myself. But so often, I’m dealing with this impostor syndrome, where they’re going to find you out for the fraud that you are. And it’s tough. It happens way too much, to me, and it’s something that I have to learn to redirect my brain with.

But I think that mind that drives me towards success, my ability to grind, my ability to overcome, despite the odds. It’s that same brain that can work against me in a very strong and powerful way. My thoughts can be unrelenting for good or for bad. Like sometimes I really break myself down with my brain in a way that’s just unhealthy, and so I deal with this a lot.

Tim: Yeah, I think a definition of impostor syndrome—I mean, I think that [chuckles] people that struggle with it probably know what we’re talking about here. But psychologists defined it back in the 70s, and it’s basically someone who does his or her job effectively and efficiently, but thinks that he or she doesn’t. And we have the tendency to think that we’re a “impostor, a fraud, a charlatan,” and we’re just waiting for someone to call us out, right? That we’re not the person that we think we are. It does seem to affect high-achievers more often than not.

According to this this article, it says that impostor syndrome affects women more than men, which I’m not going to debate that, but I think that you and I both have admitted to something like this before. Yeah, I think it can hold us back from achieving the success that we are capable of because in some ways I think impostor syndrome can manifest is a fear of success.

Shawn: Exactly.

Tim: That we don’t deserve the success that we’ve earned or that we think that we’re just gotten lucky or it’s just been handed to us, and things like that. I think there’s a certain degree of luck in most people’s fortune, but we tend to discount the role that we play in it, to some degree. But there’s also a fear of failure, I think, that an impostor might manifest with impostor syndrome.

Shawn: Absolutely. Yeah, there’s a good quote that starts this that’s literally like what our last podcast was about. “Success will never be a big step in the future. Success is just a small step taken now,” by Jonathan Martinson. That’s a great quote. Again, we think like being a hero comes down to the pivotal moments, like a movie, and being a hero is really doing those small things every day for a lifetime.

And I like the way this starts out. “Can you feel that twist in your belly, that fear in your heart. The voice in your head that tells you you’re not up to the job. It shouts that you don’t know what you’re doing at work, that you’re making it all up as you go along, that you’re faking it. Do you feel like an impostor most of the time? A fraud who’s always on the verge of being found out? Good, because many other people are too.”

And this gets into it, but I have to think, like Tim was saying, I think if you’re if you’re someone who’s driven for success, then it’s hard to not deal with this because sometimes I find some of what drives me for the grind is the insecurity. I feel like I’m not good enough in certain areas, and that can manifest and fester in and of itself. And I can use that for good to accomplish things and achieve things, but I need to be easier on myself and not necessarily deal with this impostor syndrome that can be born out of that, out of that insecurity. But I feel like just like with anything, that your strength is your weakness, is your strength is your weakness. And so, I think the higher achiever you are, the more you can deal with this impostor syndrome.

You just have to recognize it, take it for what it is, redirect your brain. And like Tim said, that if you stop dealing with this impostor syndrome or find a way to redirect it, then you allow yourself to achieve what you can fully. You can be the best of yourself. You can achieve your max potential, which is going to ultimately lead to your best success. Which, as Tim said, equals happiness. Success is happiness. Happiness is success.

I mean, how much do you deal with this and in what way do you deal with impostor syndrome, Tim?

Tim: Here’s a good example that comes to my mind. And I think the more you get into something in your life—a profession, a career, or whatever it is—then this may have some applicability. But I’ve learned over the years that the more I know, the more I learn, the less I know. Like there’s just so much to learn, right?

Shawn: Socratic.

Tim: But it’s true. And that’s when that’s when I feel like I am this charlatan in the sense that I don’t know anything. I’m supposed to be an expert on a certain topic, but I don’t know if this guy knows more than I do. He can answer this question. And I think that boiling it down to the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know anything, or the less I know.

And it’s kind of a profound point, I think, in the life journey, where there’s this wisdom accumulate. Because I if I look back to my early 20s, I thought I knew it all, man.

Shawn: Right.

Tim: I was like, “I got it all down.” And now I’ve accumulated this whole wealth of experience and knowledge, and I feel like I know much less now—or there’s much more to learn, I should say—and I think that’s where I start to feel it. It’s like, man, I really don’t know it. Like people coming to me and think I’m an expert and I don’t know all the answers.

Shawn: I deal with the exact same thing. And you know that knowledge is like a grain of sand on the beach.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: And especially, it’s frustrating to me, like we’ve talked about science and the nature of science, and that science is not that sure.

Tim: Right.

Shawn: Science is the exploration of truth, but rarely ever getting truth, and knowing that truth, even in science, is still subjective; and not necessarily objective, even though we’re seeking the objective. Because every good scientific study ends with, “This is the set of circumstances that were laid out and these are the results we saw with those circumstances, but more research needs to be done.” There’s no answer. I’m telling you, if you ever hear, “it’s a scientific fact,” that person is in marketing and not in science.

Tim: Proven.

Shawn: I think it’s “scientifically-proven.” That is garbage because the study was done with certain people that have a certain disease state, and certain age range, and they’re in this certain scenario, and you can’t control for everything. And there’s individual differences between every person. But it’s just a snapshot of some people; so, 10 people, 20 people. Does this cover 7 billion people? No. There’s no study that covers 7 billion people. Sorry, that’s not out there.

Tim: [chuckles] Yeah.

Shawn: So, it’s not fact. It’s not proven. It’s directional, science is directional, that says here’s what we’re seeing in this scenario and you can try and apply that more broadly, and we can take some other studies and try and paint a picture. But always, no matter if you have one study or you have literally 500 studies on the subject, there’s no assuredness, there’s no 100% fact. You still, even at 500 studies, you need to do more research because there’s just an infinite number of scenarios, there’s an infinite number of people, there’s an infinite number of ways you can execute this. And then there’s an infinite number of interpretations, no matter what the data is.

Tim: Right.

Shawn: So, we deal with impostor syndrome and we realize that now, as we get on in age and become more experienced, that science is infinite. It’s not clear defined answers. It’s infinite. And the deeper you dig into science, the more creative and more open-ended you see it.

You know, we always used to think of science and math is so definitive and then the liberal arts is so open-ended. But now I feel the more I’d like dig into science, the more I see it’s a beautiful, creative art and there are no answers. There’s just a search, there’s a journey, and I see that with most things in my life now. Politically, religiously, I’m so open-minded now because the answers aren’t easy, and there are so many people, and there are so many perspectives, and there isn’t one perfect way for anything. I see so many people have a different ability, different way of executing, and a different knowledge set. And I tend to just like listening to people, like listening to different ways of going about things, and I appreciate the beauty in that, that we’re all individual, and that there is no right way for everyone.

And so, to your point, it’s just the more I dig in, the more I go on with age, the more I see it’s just all open-ended and there isn’t clear answers; and therefore, we have so much to learn but we’ll never learn at all, and we’ll always feel like we fall short. And then when we realize that we know—I think it was Socrates that had said, “The wisest man admits he knows nothing,” that yeah, that’s impostor syndrome. Really, the smarter and more accomplished we are, the less we realize we know. And to your point, the greater expert you are in your field, the more of an impostor you really are.

Tim: Yeah, exactly.

Shawn: The greater the guru, the greater the expert, the greater the accomplishment, the more you realize that you’re not really that good.

Tim: Exactly.

Shawn: That’s a powerful thought. I mean, I think the people that deal with impostor syndrome the worst may be the best at what they do.

Tim: Yeah, because I think it just becomes clearer as your focus is more distilled, right? I think that it just becomes more and more evident that you don’t have the answers when you’re when you’re that laser-like focus in a certain area. So, you put it put it perfectly there.

Shawn: Nice. So, let’s help you move past impostor syndrome. Here’s tip #1 to beat impostor syndrome: Start with where you. Is there a real issue for you? There are some lucky souls unaffected. Use the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale Test,” which we’ll have linked in this article, “to see how much the impostor syndrome is or isn’t interfering in your life. For some, just having a label for this secret fear will help them feel better and less alone.”

So that’s obvious. Start with where you are. Recognize that you do have this creep into your life, that it does take over you, that it does create fear; and therefore, cripples you from taking that successful step forward. Not a big pivotal moment, but a series of steps, consistently, is how we achieve success.”

Tim: Yeah. So, let me ask you, Shawn. Knowing that you have this impostor syndrome or this is something that you struggle with, was that helpful to you to know that this is a real thing. Other people struggle with it. It’s not just something that I’m making up in my mind.

Shawn: Absolutely. And I first heard about this term in my Mastermind School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. I mean, I’ve felt it before. I felt alone for it. I felt this crippling fear that I was a fraud and people were going to find out, and it’s kind of like being on stage with your underwear.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: Like those dreams.

Tim: Exactly.

Shawn: It’s your insecurity just taking over. And then I heard “impostor syndrome” and that this entire room full of highly-accomplished people is dealing with this problem. And I’m like, “Whoa.” I didn’t ever put that term on it, ‘impostor,’ okay.” Wow. Okay, like that means I’m worried about being a fraud. Before I thought it was failing, but it’s like okay, I’m a fraud. And that’s what my fear is, that they’re going to find out. I’m trying to be an expert, but I’m not.

And then, to know that all these successful people in the room deal with this, and it’s like I’m not alone, but it’s a common thread of success.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: And it’s like, okay. Instead, I was thinking that this is holding me back from my success, and in a lot of ways it is, individually. But you have to realize that all these successful people deal with this. And primarily, successful people deal with this. So, if you’re dealing with this often, chances are you’re probably really good at what you do.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: So, it’s a powerful thought. Yes, it helped immensely to not feel alone here, which is the next one, here’s tip #2 to beat impostor syndrome: Connect with other impostors. “Now you have a name for that unpleasant feeling inside whenever anyone compliments you. And more importantly, you know that others suffer from it too.”

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: And there you go. So, now I’m connecting with you over this, I’m connecting with these other successful people in my Mastermind over it, and I realize I’m not alone. If anything, it’s part of what comes with success.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: So, you don’t have to complain that you deal with it. You have to learn how to redirect it and know it’s just a part of success.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: It’s the pressure you put on yourself to succeed and make yourself better is the same pressure that’s going to lead to this insecurity.

Tim: Yeah, and the reason I asked about that is because sometimes labels can be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, which can be negative. Most times a self-fulfilling prophecy can be negative.

Shawn: Right.

Tim: But in this case, it does seem like it’s very liberating to know that it’s common among successful high-achievers, which I think is very important. And it gives you that sense. It helps with self-compassion because it gives you that sense of common humanity.

We would like to know that we’re individuals and that we’re unique, but at the same time, we’d like to know that other people are experiencing similar struggles or have gone through similar struggles. And that’s what that thread of common humanity comes into play. We want to know that what we’re going through is special and unique, but at the same time we want to be recognized that, like you said, that you’re the same among a group of people that you’re trying to be like. So, I think it’s liberating in that sense.

Shawn: Absolutely. So, here’s tip #3 to beat impostor syndrome: Stick to just the facts ma’am. “Look at the reality. What’s actually going on? What are the observable facts about the situation? Are you paying attention to your inner critic or your direct experience? Do you commonly attribute your success to luck and all your failures to your own abilities? Say you’ve given a big presentation. What’s the feedback from others? If they give you good feedback, accept it. Don’t assume they’re hiding their negative opinions from you.”

I love this. Man, that’s a powerful thought. “Do you commonly attribute your success to luck and your failures to your own abilities,” because I can tell you that like, man, like super successful people, it feels like it’s just the opposite for them. That they attribute their success to their own abilities, and their failures to luck.

Again, we all deal with this, but man, just make sure you give yourself credit for when you achieve something, and make sure that you don’t over-attribute your failures to your abilities, and your lack thereof. That’s just not fair to yourself to do that.

Tim: You know, this sentence really struck me. “If they give you good feedback, accept it. Don’t assume that they’re hiding their negative opinions from you.” I don’t know if you have any similar experiences, Shawn, but I know for me, that’s one area where this seems to manifest is that even when someone tells me that I’ve done a good job, I’m wondering if they’re really telling me the truth or did they just want to sugarcoat some things there. So, that’s an area where I have seen this manifest, is just that I think that people don’t always tell the truth with their feedback, which is not fair for me to think that way, but that’s a common way for me to see this.

And so, she goes on to say, “Use the feedback formula, ‘what did I do well and what could I do differently?'” and I think that’s important because then it gives us that balanced feedback, where we acknowledge the things that did go right. But also how can we—we talked about this before—everything that we do, every learning, every experience that we have, every person that we meet, all of these things, there’s something that can be drawn from those experiences and those people. What can I do better? What can I take away from that next time? So, I think that this is a good piece of the puzzle right here to add to that.

Shawn: That’s perfectly well-said, Tim. Yeah, I agree. Maybe a key thing here, too, is that be someone that provides good feedback for others. If you do it with integrity and honesty where, yes, you don’t have to tell everybody they’re good at everything. That isn’t good to do that. You need to give honest feedback, if someone asks for it.

And give compliments where people are good. Because someone’s good at something, and you can give compliments. That’s not hard. You should be able to find good things about practically everyone. I think we’ve talked about this before, that Tim Ferriss has said like one way he doesn’t let negative people have power over him is to think about the things that they’re really good at and kind of give them their credit or gratitude in your head for what they are good at. Because again, everyone’s really good at something. No matter how much you might hate someone or feel frustrated about someone, they’re good at some things.

So, be liberal with your positive feedback toward other people, but don’t make something always be positive. There’s the old John Wooden criticism sandwich where he starts with something that they’re really good at, then he lets them know what they could improve. Not what they’re terrible at, what they could improve. And then he finishes with something positive. And it works really well because you’ve given honest, positive feedback, things that they’re doing great at, and then you’re giving constructive criticism in the middle there, but in the right tone, in the right way so that they’re open to it, so that they’ll potentially apply it. I love the John Wooden criticism sandwich. And he was the winningest college coach in history, so someone to listen to.

Tim: Yeah. Just to kind of tack onto that, Shawn, whether you’re giving or asking for feedback is maybe ask for specific feedback. So, not just say, “Great job,” or “Awesome work.”

Shawn: Right.

Tim: “You did a good job.” Okay, well can you tell me a little bit more, specifically, about what you thought I did well,” or “I wanted to tell you, you did a great job and I specifically like this about what you did.” I think the more specific we can be or the more specific feedback we can get, the better.

Shawn: That makes me think of another pet peeve of mine is like someone who just gives the thumbs up, interesting, cool, thank you.

Tim: [chuckles] Yeah.

Shawn: Kind of comment when you bother to send them an article, a thought, or something on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on email, on text, and they give you back like a one-word statement, and it just feels soul-crushing.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: And if you know that feeling, then don’t do it to other people. Read it, think about it, respond, give someone back in kind what they’ve given you, because it’s what you want. Remember the times that you’ve been frustrated and remember the times that you wish you’ve gotten more feedback and you were deprived of it, and so don’t do that yourself.

Tim: The golden rule, man.

Shawn: Yeah. So, Here’s tip #4 to beat impostor syndrome: Knock perfectionism on its head, and I’ve literally talked about this on the Shawn episode, if we can label it that. That perfectionism was obviously something, again, that drove me incredibly hard at times, but also drove me into the ground. There’s like the 80/20 rule, there’s books and seminars on the 80/20 rule, where if you can get it 80% of the way, then that’s good enough. And you get someone to take it the other 20%. That’s where mentors and delegation and whatever apply. And that 80/20 rules is so true for so many different scenarios that that’s enough, good enough. You don’t have to be perfect.

Success, again, is taking that step in the right direction. It’s not pivotal moment, it’s not—to use a football analogy—like running the football back to the end-zone 100 yards. It’s grinding it out three yards at a time, getting a first down or whatever, and moving that ball successfully down the field day-in and day-out. It’s a lifestyle. It’s consistency.

So, knock perfectionism on its head and ease up on yourself with the impostor syndrome. You’re allowed to make mistakes, you’re allowed to be human. But know that perfectionism is impossible. You can’t be perfect. And who wants to be perfect? We’re human, we’re unique. Out of mistakes comes learning. Out of mistakes comes breakthroughs in science and in culture and art, out of “mistakes.” So, I don’t even like the word “mistakes.” And the idea, therefore, perfectionism means nothing moves forward, ironically.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: There’s no great breakthroughs, there’s no great learnings, there’s no great passion if we’re perfect. So why be perfect?

Tim: Yeah, I think let’s not confuse that, saying there’s nothing wrong with the pursuit of excellence. That’s an important driver, right?

Shawn: Sure, sure.

Tim: But what we’re saying there is we want to highlight progress, not perfection. And setting realistic expectations, and things like that, I think that’s just something I wanted to point out there.

Shawn: Absolutely.

Tim: We’ve got to keep pushing forward. We can pursue greatness, we can pursue excellence, but just have the right expectations, and highlight progress.

Shawn: That’s a huge one. Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Tim. It’s making yourself aware of the progress that you’re making, taking credit for that. Not holding off until you achieve perfection.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: Yeah, you need to celebrate the wins along the way, and the wins are one step at a time, not at the end.

So, here’s tip #5 to beat impostor syndrome: Take care of self-care. “Looking after your basic self-care needs is crucial for getting on top of impostor syndrome. When we’re hungry, tired, or in poor health, we’re more susceptible to listening to our unhelpful thoughts of impostor syndrome. Step back and look at yourself. Are you taking care of yourself? This could include eating, sleeping, not exercising, overusing stimulants like coffee, and not getting enough time alone or time with others.”

So self-care important for impostor syndrome. Really important for everything as you’re trying to achieve success. And of course, you can have more negative outcomes when you set yourself up to not be optimal. I mean, that’s pretty obvious. I mean, that leads to everything we’ve talked about on every episode.

Tim: Yeah, I don’t think there’s too much more to add to that one.

Shawn: So, here’s tip #6 to beat impostor syndrome: Be realistic about other’s achievements. “We tend to compare our own insights; the deepest darkest thoughts and feelings about what we ‘know’ about ourselves with others outsides, the face they carefully present to the world. This is only worsened [and we’ve talked about this] as social media proliferates, and we have an even more skewed version of people’s true selves. When we do this, we’re not comparing like with like.”

Yeah, we’ve talked about this, that on Facebook, on Instagram, like people are taking the most perfect photograph, they’re filtering it, they’re filtering the words, they’re cropping, and whatever. Then they put the little smoothing thing on and then the bubble eyes and little hearts and it’s not even a real photo anymore. It’s like a shadow of what it once was, and it was the best choice out of a hundred photos, and they’re taking the photo at one point during the day that’s the perfect time during the day. And how often do we take the worst picture, from the worst place in the day?

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: I mean, so yes we’re looking at a highly skewed version of what’s potentially the outside, the best possible version of something. And then we’re saying that this is comparable to what we’re dealing with, with not only our insides, but almost like this darker, deeper, sadder version because of impostor syndrome. We’re taking that insecure version and comparing it with—here we go—with perfection, essentially. And is that fair? No.

Tim: Right. Another example that comes to my mind is like you look on social media, and in my area of expertise maybe there’s a strength coach or a nutrition coach that has this response, and so eloquently worded and perfectly put and I’m like, “Gosh man, that guy’s so smart. He knows everything. I could never do that.” Well, maybe it took him two days to formulate that response and he edited it six times along the way. You just never know with that medium. Like in a one-on-one conversation, would that person be able to explain himself or answer that question any better than you or I could? So, I think that we’d find that a lot of these people that we put in such higher esteem, again, struggle with similar issues as we do.

One other thing that I thought was interesting about this too, “be realistic about other’s achievements” doesn’t necessarily relate to—I guess it does to some degree—to impostor syndrome. But again, setting the proper expectations for others, what do we expect from them? Because maybe not everyone is on the same high-achiever level. And just making sure that we have realistic expectations that we communicate effectively to others is important as well, so we don’t feel let down or we don’t let down others.

Shawn: Dead on, my friend. Number seven and this is the final one, I believe.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: Finally, here’s tip #1 to beat impostor syndrome: Decide to thrive. “There’s a great TEDx talk by Tanya Geisler that reminds us that we can indeed decide to thrive. Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, talks about her obnoxious roommate in her head and how she’s managed to relegate her to only occasional guest appearances, in order to live a life that matters. Whatever you call your inner critic, we don’t have to be held prisoner by what we are just another set of unhelpful thoughts, of which we will have many every day, and most of which we manage to ignore. But some of us give far too much time to our inner critic.”

I mean, it comes down to proactive decision. You choose to be happy, you choose to be successful, you choose to be someone that’s going to thrive, someone that’s going to overcome this inner critic, as they call it. So, it’s a decision. Decide to thrive. Do you want to be better off? Then relegate the inner critic to only occasional guest appearances.

Tim: Yeah. Or, like we talked about in your story, use those negative voices as fuel to help push you forward.

Shawn: Yeah.

Tim: Like those negative words, you can flip them and turn me around, and you know what? “I’ll show you. I got this. I can do this.” That’s a little bit harder to do. But if you just can’t tune it out, maybe you can just flip it around and use it as motivation.

Shawn: Exactly. Another awesome episode, Taking Back Your Power. “Impostor syndrome can cause emotional self-sabotage and stymie us self-doubt, but the very act of recognizing it will diminish its hold on us, give us the opportunity to truly embrace our success. I no longer have the same levels of anxiety about others finding me out. I’m comforted by the fact that no one can see in my head, just as I can’t see into anyone else’s. My compliments file helps me ground myself.”

This is a cool thing that someone told me at my Mastermind, that they actually did this. I think they called it a thank you file or something like that. But basically, it’s whenever someone writes something positive to you, you capture it. You celebrate your wins, but you can always revisit it, which is cool. Like if you’re feeling down, if you’re feeling like the impostor, go back and revisit all these things that people have said about you that are positive, that are true. That are true. They’re not just positive, but they’re true. And you need to remember those things, and you can relegate this inner critic to occasional guest appearances, as they said.

And he says here, “I can look back at my tangible accomplishments, including professional testimonials clients have written for me, awards I have won, living in several different countries, working as an international consultant, and many more, presenting to 200+ people, keeping strong friendships despite barriers of thousands of miles.” That’s impressive. “And just being able to write and share this sentence. You can choose your reality, mainly because there’s no one single reality. We will be different to different people, and that’s just fine. So go now and act like Sarah in the classic film Labyrinth. Kick your inner impostor in the butt and yell, ‘You have no power over me.'”

And that is it. Man, I love this. And I’m glad that we got to deal with our inner critic and talk about impostor syndrome here.

Tim: Yeah.

Shawn: And it’s good, yet again, to talk to someone that’s going through similar stuff. So, it’s just nice to talk to you about it, Tim.

Tim: And likewise, Shawn. I would say, if you’re listening to this episode and this resonates with you, head over to the blog a BioTrustRadio.com and share a little bit about it in the comments section for this post. We’d love to hear about it, and how you deal with impostor syndrome or how you struggle with impostor syndrome. And a special thank you to Ellen Bard, whose mission is to help people, like us, shine more brightly in business and life. This was a great post and we really appreciate it. It resonated with us, so hopefully did with you as well.

Shawn: Yeah, absolutely. You can check that out at EllenBard.com and we’ll have the link in our show notes at BioTrustRadio.com. Like Tim mentioned, we have so much extra there, but we also appreciate you listening on all the various outlets like iTunes, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and now Spotify. We’re very thankful for you doing reviews, for you giving us critique and thoughts back, for getting on BioTrust VIP Facebook area, by just going to BioTrust.com/VIP, being a part of the community. We just want to interact with you. We want your thoughts. We want your help and we want to help you. We really appreciate you and everything you’ve done to help us have this as a vehicle. So, thank you very much and we will talk to you soon.

Tim: Thanks gang.

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