How do you tackle feelings of overwhelm or imposter syndrome? This is something that comes up so often for me. I get messages from people asking me how to deal with that feeling that they’re in over their head, or how to go about combatting that plaguing sense of ’feeling like an imposter.’ And trust me, these are ubiquitous in business.
Who Do You Think You Are?
Who am I to do this? They ask. If I do this, I’ll be exposed. People will finally see that I really don’t know what I’m doing here.” It’s so common.
So, the most important thing to remember, is that those feelings are normal. Everybody gets them. I’m always amazed that even when you talk with big ‘celebrities’ or really well-established entrepreneurs, they feel the exact same. Everybody has those same feelings.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed – firstly – well done for acknowledging it. And secondly, well done – period. Because if you’re feeling overwhelmed, that means on some level you are pushing yourself. You’re taking something on that’s challenging. And let’s remember you’re pushing yourself into a space that’s new. Recognising that is key.
Feelings of overwhelm or imposter syndrome aren’t a bad thing. They are a clear indication that you’re pushing yourself. Acknowledging them as a good thing is a necessary stepping stone.
Practice Makes Perfect
Understanding what will make those feelings pass, however, is really interesting. To put it really simply, it’s familiarity.
Think about it. If you’re in unchartered territory, of course, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Everything is new. You have to learn the ropes from every angle. There’s confidence in knowing your surroundings and how things tick over. So the more time you spend in this space and exercise yourself in that space, the more you will get used to it. So the more familiar you become, the less you experience that feeling of overwhelm. And actually, the more you will step up in that space and shine.
Practice does really make perfect.
I hope it’s a comforting thing to know that that is the light at the end of the tunnel when you have these feelings because they really are normal and a sign that you are doing well.
Of course, the caveat to that is – as you step up – you step into a new problem. The good always comes to bad to keep us on our toes!
With that new problem will come that renewed feeling of overwhelm or imposter syndrome. But, the difference is, now you know that that a bit of familiarity will get you through these feelings gradually. Until you move past them, and step into yourself. And, then…well, the cycle repeats itself.
What I’m trying to say is: you will always feel a sense of overwhelming. You will always have a sense of imposter syndrome – provided you are always pushing yourself.
It’s not about avoiding those feelings, it’s about becoming aware of them. Aware that they are normal, part of the journey, and that familiarity and experience will push you past them. But, as I said, then (if you choose) it’s on to the next level…
That constant change and levelling up is the interesting thing.
A lot of the time in entrepreneurial careers and life we think that problems will pass. If we just get through this bit. But really, it is our capacity to deal with these problems that grow. And those problems grow alongside us.
You can either give in and let them overwhelm you, or you can keep stepping up. You’re always going to be pulled in this direction and that. Things coming at you from every angle. But if we learn to stand firm in the storm, like a maypole, then it becomes easier to weather that storm. The storm will always be there, whether it’s a drizzle or a hurricane.
So please. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t waste your valuable energy over insignificant things or feelings of imposter syndrome. Lean into those feelings, they’re normal. Give them a nod, and say “I know you” and push through them.
Keep following that journey of pushing yourself, because you will be shocked at where it can take you. To a whole new level of excitement, fun and purposeful space.