How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Tame Your Inner Critic
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
How do you deal with your inner critic? And by “inner critic,” I’m calling out the voice inside your head that tells you to play small, that you’re not enough and that there’s no way you’ll succeed.
Everyone has one, but the difference between those who are successful and those who are not often connects back to whether or not their inner critic stops them from pursuing their hopes and dreams.
It doesn’t matter if you identify as a confident person or not — we all have to address and learn how to navigate the voice inside of our head that says, “You’re not good enough,” or even worse, “You’ll never be enough.” Your critic is craving attention. The negative emotions and self-talk we hear are not to be ignored, because they will only continue taunting us from within. What you resist persists, so if you keep shoving down the inner critic, eventually, they’ll get the best of you.
It’s imperative to move forward and live your true purpose to learn how to manage your inner critic. Knowing what to do when they creep up can be the difference between continuing to make progress vs. stopping you in your tracks.
Related: 4 Ways I Overcame Impostor Syndrome as an Entrepreneur
How do we calm our inner critic?
The first step is understanding why it exists. Then, when you can begin making peace with the voice and understand that it’s just part of being human, you’ll start to make progress by not shaming yourself for feeling less than excellent.
I have spent a lot of time and energy on this because I let my inner critic get the best of me way more times than I’d like to admit. But, then, add in “imposter syndrome,” and I started feeling like I would never get out of my way.
Thankfully, I’ve had the chance to work in this area with excellent professionals throughout my life and career. Growing up and in my professional life, even when awards, promotions and accolades were rolling in, there was this never-ending feeling of not being enough. It was exhausting … If you’ve heard the saying “new level new devil,” that was what I would experience. Whenever I took the next step or advanced, the inner critic would get even louder.
I immediately questioned my abilities to deliver. It didn’t matter that I had a proven track record of success, had graced the Miss America stage, had spoken to over 100,000 people live and millions more via the media. It didn’t matter that I had an all-star sales team built from scratch. It didn’t matter that award after award was coming in or that my consulting company was crushing records month over month. My inner critic was SCREAMING.
Something had to change.
Related: Real Imposters Don’t Experience Imposter Syndrome. Here’s What That Means for You.
I recently had the chance to work with an organizational psychologist and leadership coach, whose guidance helped me tremendously with this simple technique: Every time your inner critic shows up, allow your champion voice to be represented by taking credit for all of the things you’ve done.
Something needs to be addressed when we feel like we’re not enough. We need to love the part of us that’s scared, acknowledge and address where we need more support and stay connected to our purpose.
You might be thinking — what does that mean? When you are so deeply connected to your “why” and let that drive you forward, it helps to build up what I like to call “mindset blinders” and keep you focused on something other than yourself. I’ve noticed with myself, my team and my clients that when we feel like we’re not enough, we’ve become disconnected from why we’re doing what we’re doing, who we’re serving and what we’ve been able to do thus far.
Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way.
What is causing these feelings?
How have you navigated similar situations in the past?
What do you need to help you move through this?
Don’t be dismissive of your feelings. Instead, figure out the root cause, decide what you need to do and take action.
Understand that no one, and I mean no one, is perfect. Everyone has experienced self-doubt, lack of confidence or imposter syndrome at some point or another. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is what they choose to do when the limiting beliefs, imposter syndrome and inner criticism shows up.
Related: 3 Ways to Prevent Imposter Syndrome From Ruining Your Business
To join those that have become successful at overcoming their inner critic, I encourage you to use three As (awareness, acceptance and addressing your needs). You’ve got to first become aware of the feeling, then you can accept the feeling and most importantly, then you can address the feeling.
Your inner critic is craving self-love and acceptance, so the sooner you can calm it down, the better. Shifting your mindset to service and your “why” will also help you lessen the noise from your inner critic.
While your inner critic is always there, the goal is to make peace with it so you can get back on track faster rather than allowing it to deter you from making progress for days, months, years and so on.
I want to encourage you to put this in motion. First, make sure your champion voice shows up the next time your critic does. Second, think about when it has shown up — are there any themes or specific triggers? Third, focus on your 3 As: become aware, practice acceptance and address your areas that need attention. Finally, make sure you connect to your “why.” When you can make things less about you and more about others, it helps to quiet the inner commentary.