How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Online

Do you feel that you aren’t good enough to do something? Imposter syndrome is the red devil that rises in your brain and tells you that you are a fraud who has just been lucky so far with your successes. In short, it’s self-doubt.

The good news is that almost all of us have it. The better news is that it can be overcome easily with proactive steps.


What Triggers Imposter Syndrome?

The rise of Imposter syndrome is often a sign that you are stepping outside your comfort zone. Our brain defends us because nobody likes to look foolish in a room. Imposter syndrome says that you are not good enough, others possess extra intelligence, and you will be found out. It’s a temporary mental condition and as common as breathing.

Imposter syndrome was first coined by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes in 1978. But without a doubt, it has existed for centuries. They have also defined four types of imposter phenomena in their book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

Different online psych tests can help you find your type to drill into the exact remedies.

Tips to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Online

It’s so common that everyone goes through it. You can visit your favorite social platform and find people talking about it.

The belief will always come and go. So, here are some practical action-based solutions you can use to tackle imposter syndrome online.

1. Focus on a Niche You Are Good At

There can be two ways to begin something. Start a new venture and learn as you go along. Or focus on a niche you are good at. When you have the foundational skills in place, it can be easier to overcome imposter syndrome. Focus on your strengths and learn how to improve those skills further.

For instance, a writer who wants to become a blogger has grammar skills. Likewise, a woodworking hobbyist knows one type of wood from another.

Idea: Use the upvotes and likes from an online community

Communities like Reddit and Stack Exchange cover hundreds of niches. The questions asked and answered show us that while everybody knows something, they don’t know everything. Contributing to online discussions with your skills can lessen the drag of imposter syndrome.

2. Learn From Mistakes

Mistakes on the job can bring out your imposter syndrome. But lean into the mistake and use it as an opportunity. An understanding manager or colleague can help. So, recognize it as “learning” and realize that everyone messes up.

Idea: Use failure journaling

A “Failure Journal” can help you identify patterns in your mistakes. For example, is the mistake a one-off, or are they repetitive? Then, you can use this insight to avoid a similar mistake. While a “Success Journal” can record your wins, a failure journal can tell you about areas that add to the imposter syndrome.

A paper journal is acceptable. You can also make your failure journal in apps like Notion or spreadsheets.

3. Map Your Fears

In his viral TED Talk, Tim Ferris talks about defining your fears instead of your goals. The fear-setting exercise can not only help you come up with a plan if you get stumped with overthinking.

Idea: Take action with the help of these questions

Try these step-by-step instructions on fear-setting, and don’t let lack of action hold you back.

4. Become a Self-Learner

Finding a mentor can have benefits. But nothing beats the skill of using online resources to teach yourself. Online learning on your own takes discipline, so keep yourself accountable. Then, when interviewing for a new role, it won’t matter how or where you learned from.

Idea: Find Your Learning Style

Do you like learning from reading content? Or are you more of a visual learner? Find the learning style you enjoy most (or mix them up). Before paying for an online course, create a structured playlist on your field with the help of bookmarks and resources like YouTube. Creating your own curriculum can be a free way of testing your interest in the topic.

Complete the popular and free Learning How to Learn course by Barbara Oakley if you feel your studying muscles have atrophied.

5. Shadow Someone Who Has Done It

Very few churn out the best version of their products in the first attempt. Follow someone you admire and go looking for evidence of how their first project was. This easy investigation can help reframe your thoughts and see that not everything has to be perfect in the first few attempts. Only that first step matters more than anything else.

Idea: Check their first work (and second)

If they are bloggers, drill down to their first few posts. Watch a YouTuber’s first upload. Find a great director’s student films. Go through the bugs on someone’s first program. For instance, you can use the Wayback Machine to take an early look at many popular websites and blogs. The screenshot above is from the fledgling days of MakeUseOf.

6. Use WOOP (A Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan)

It’s also critical to plan ahead when you know that the shadow of imposter syndrome is around the corner. A smart goal-setting strategy that prepares you for any mental blocks or worldly obstacles can help you go around stumbling blocks.

Idea: Anticipate obstacles

WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) is a mental framework developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. It combines visualizing your goal and preparation against obstacles with a concrete plan. The video above does an excellent job of explaining it. You can make your plan on a simple template or download the WOOP apps on your mobile.

Download: WOOP for Android | iOS (Free)

7. Try Low-Cost Passion Projects

Any project you want to do can play a big part in lessening the stressors behind imposter syndrome. But, on the other hand, the same creative fears can make you give up on them. When a project is too big, you can procrastinate or surrender if you feel it’s not good enough.

Idea: Keep it simple

Reset your mental blocks with a low-cost passion project. Repurpose your perfectionism by thinking of it as a prototype. Reframe any rejection by thinking of it as an experiment. For instance, a writer can practice micro-posts on LinkedIn and Twitter and get a sense of what people like. As a coder, you can contribute to open source projects or join a coding bootcamp and take the help of the community. Finally, as any creative, be open to feedback and give constructive feedback on someone else’s work.

Choose to Do One Small Thing Today

Tell yourself you aren’t alone. The very fact that this term exists is proof enough. But always keep a growth mindset and remember that imposter syndrome is only how you feel. Still, it doesn’t have any necessary effect on what you do.

So, take the help of Newton’s laws of motion. Allow momentum to carry you and figure out things as you go. Above all, be kind to yourself because things can go wrong with any plan. Get back on the horse, reframe your thoughts, and check if you are better than yesterday.

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