The Giraffe Brand

3 Ways to Slay Impostor Syndrome

By Liezel van der Westhuizen

Why is it that female entrepreneurs shy away from talking about the most powerful moments in their careers? Perhaps we were taught it was impolite to speak out about our achievements, because it seems boastful. It is certainly what I used to think, until one of my girlfriends suggested that we start celebrating our many wins. Today, a group of us have formed a WhatsApp group that is dedicated towards this, which we all find tremendously empowering.

Have you heard of a condition called “impostor syndrome”? It occurs in our psyches when, despite much evidence to the contrary, we experience feelings of inadequacy, failure or being a fraud. While this situation, of course, can happen to anyone, research on the topic shows that impostor syndrome is most prevalent among women and minority groups; these groups should therefore set aside a little time each day for empowering activities.

So: is this internal belittlement preventing you from effectively showcasing your career accolades? Then it’s high time you took steps to change this. The main reason to do so: you won’t be able to reach your target audience unless you speak openly – in person, on your website and on social media profiles – about what you have achieved in the past, are currently working on, and still plan to accomplish in the very near future.

Method 1: Speak out about doubts and weak points. You may find you’re way more sorted than you realise when you chat to others in your network. And it’s not about bringing down that less-accomplished colleague, either – rather share with her the steps you took to get a certification (i.e. attending night classes once a week) or to alter your job description (i.e. hiring an intern). In fact, there’s nothing better than mentoring others to boost your feelings of empowerment.

Method 2: Make a mental U-turn. If there’s something you’ve not yet achieved and it’s getting you down, when asked about it say it’s top of your agenda and you won’t stop until it has a great big “tick” next to it. Take an “I know I can do it” approach to your goals. Are you any less able than those in your network who have already achieved that goal? The answer is probably a resounding, “No ways!” A good method of changing your mental approach when you have doubts is to book yourself a series of coaching sessions or a mindfulness meditation course, and to spend time chatting about and/or visualising yourself already having achieved that much-desired goal.

Method 3: Celebrate goals reached. Make a list of them, post them onto social media, throw a party, or write a blog post about how long you strived to get there, how tough it was and how amazing you felt when you eventually got there. This will encourage others to keep going in moments of insecurity. And, yes, we all have failures that sometimes take the wind out of our sails, but what’s important is to remember that those losses do not define us.

Instead, think like an athlete who is poised like a spring to burst out of the starting blocks: “I’m amazing, I can do it, the world is my oyster”.

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