Maybe you’d be surprised to know that almost all successful people occasionally feel undeserving, like they are frauds and they are about to be found out. It’s even got a name: Impostor Syndrome, and some studies say that 70% of us have experienced it at some point. In many cases, it’s the highest achievers that have those feelings the most.

But, fancy name aside, it’s really nothing more than your run-of-the-mill self-doubt. And I can hear you saying that knowing that many people feel the same thing is cold comfort. It can still be difficult to recognize your own contribution to your successes and triumphs, and this can leave you feeling like you’re faking it. It seems that when the pressure is on, or we’re under the gun to prove ourselves, we are hard-wired to remember our failures and often ignore our many achievements.

In many cases these doubts center around what you’re bringing to the table: your own talents and strengths and ability to take action. In these moments you need to be able to understand, respect and even celebrate what others can see in you, but you’ve temporarily lost track of. And that can be difficult, especially when so much about our world is aimed squarely at our deficiencies. When was the last time you had a performance review and the experience left you feeling ‘lifted up’ and positive about yourself?

So here are a few ways to accurately look at your achievements, shore up your confidence in your abilities and get back on the journey to reaching your goals when you’ve gotten bitten by the doubt-bug.

  1. Realize this feeling will pass. It may not seem like a big help at the time, but even just saying to yourself, “I’m going to feel better tomorrow about this” can help your brain start getting back in gear. There’s something inside us all called self-efficacy, and it can often enable us to do amazing feats, simply by strongly stating a belief that we have the capacity to do them. I’m not saying you have to believe in the Law of Attraction, but think about it the other way around: How many impossible things can you do if you really think they are impossible?
  2. Make a list and check it twice. We’ve talked about this before, but if you don’t already have a list somewhere of your accomplishments, then today is a good day to start one. It comes in handy in these weaker moments for us to have something to turn to that collects our achievements together in one place, and lays them out neatly — showing how far we’ve come and just what we’re capable of when we’re focused. Refer to this list when you’re feeling ineffectual, and bask in the glow of what you’ve already done. It can help you to look forward to what’s next with more determination and resolve.
  3. Don’t use the wrong measuring stick. No one is perfect, but we tend to put ourselves up against ideal role models, and that makes even the strongest of us feel like we’re lacking. Comparisons are natural, but you can’t let them beat you down, and they can blind you to recognizing the unique value that only you can bring. So if you’re stuck feeling like you can’t live up to perfection, it’s time to pull those expectations down a little, and tell yourself that “no one has it all figured out,” so you can give yourself a break.
  4. Get a second opinion. If you’re having trouble shaking the feeling, then call that one friend of yours who always seems to make you feel better. You don’t even have to talk about what’s bothering you, but if you can connect with a person who changes the energy around you for the better, then you’re more likely to come back refreshed and more able to be forgiving, thankful, and level-headed. Or, if you have a coach (and maybe you should have one?), then this is the time to reach out and say: “I need a minute!” Gaining a new perspective can help you see things as they really are.
  5. Look for the silver lining. Realize that having this feeling means that you’ve set the bar high for yourself, and that’s a good thing. If you just wanted to play it safe, you’d never be in this kind of a position, but you’d never be able to rise to new heights and achieve all that you dream about. You only get this feeling when you’re taking a risk. And taking risks is how we grow.
  6. Get out of your head. Get on your bike, or go for a walk or run in nature. Try to place yourself in a situation where you’re interacting with something bigger than your problems, and get moving. Again, this can change your perspective just enough to give you a better angle from which to see the path ahead.

It happens to almost all of us. And it can be terrifying, but there’s no reason it has to be paralyzing as well. Take action and get back in control. You’ll be back on track in no time.


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