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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: 12 million reasons to Believe in Yourself.

If you've ever felt like you were an imposter, you're not alone! With countless people talking about it, it's no wonder imposter syndrome is an increasingly problematic issue!

Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? You might think you do, but what if you were struggling with something else?

Imposter syndrome is a hot topic and it seems as if everyone is talking about it lately.

A quick Google search revealed more than 12 million results on the topic at the time of this blog.

In addition to that, there are countless content creators talking about it on various social media platforms, and countless books, articles, blogs, and think pieces have been written about it.

So, it must be a real problem. Right?

Well, here’s the thing...

As a conflict strategist, I work with leaders who are committed to building their self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-control in order to improve their responses to conflict.

After doing this work for a little while, I began to notice something.

Many of my clients would come to me and say that they struggled with imposter syndrome, but many of them didn't actually have any of the tell-tale signs of imposter syndrome.

So while they would say that they felt they weren’t good enough or that they felt like a fraud, by the time they started doing the deep work and introspection, they would often discover that their feelings weren’t tied to an internal struggle at all. Their struggle was actually external.

What they were actually struggling with was unhealthy comparisons to others, not imposter syndrome. But, with so many people talking about it, it's no wonder how imposter syndrome has taken center stage in people's lives as an explanation for feeling as if they are underachieving.

Imposter syndrome is what happens when an individual doubts their skills, talents, or abilities which turns into an internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Imposter syndrome is an internal problem. In it, our fears and doubts are deeply connected to how we see ourselves.

But when our issue is unhealthy comparisons, our fears and doubts are deeply connected to how we see others, and that’s an important distinction.

The worst part is, unhealthy comparisons are almost always connected to a flawed worldview. We have unrealistic ideas about how well everyone else is doing, and we struggle because we’re so caught up comparing our own blooper reels to everyone else’s highlight reels.

When we lean into unhealthy comparisons, we struggle because we feel as if we’ve fallen behind where we think we should be, not because we think we’re not good enough to get there.

So we may believe that we are good enough, but the comparison to others makes everyone else’s success feel bigger and more... "success-ier" than our own.

To be fair, it is entirely possible that you struggle with both imposter syndrome & unhealthy comparisons to others.

But as far as the comparison issue goes, the best thing you can do is commit to stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to who you were yesterday.

How can you do that? Well, you can start by staying off of social media & remembering that the people you compare yourself to are comparing themselves to someone else too. Limit your exposure to other people's curated lives and focus on your very real and present circumstances.

Be thankful for where you are and who you are, and be intentional about beating the person looking back at you in the mirror.

You might just discover that the only thing fraudulent about you was that you believed you couldn’t do something, that you actually could.


Ryan Dunlap is a conflict strategist and the founder of Conflictish, a conflict strategy consultancy that specializes in workplace conflict and sexual misconduct. From tarnished rapport to squeamish conversations, Conflictish is on a mission to help leaders get their 'ish together.


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