Imposter Syndrome Got You Stuck? Free Yourself by Quitting This Bad Habit



We’re all human and wired with the same tendency to evaluate ourselves relative to others. But, comparative thoughts aren’t useful. In fact, they keep us stuck exactly where we are. Everyone grapples with the same doubts and fears, and even with this knowledge, it’s hard to escape those ingrained thought patterns. Here are a few common comparisons and how to overcome them.

“She really has her stuff together.”

This is often directed at a specific person or group of people in your life who tend to show up places on time, dressed in something other than athleisure. The truth is that she doesn’t have her stuff together any more than anyone else. No one does.

All of us feel pretty scattered most of the time. And in those fleeting moments of balance, when we’ve tamed our to-do list, there’s little joy because we then start worrying about when it’s all going to fall apart again. Shut down this comparison by reminding yourself that you’re only seeing a slice of someone’s life versus knowing the whole of your own. There is always more beneath the surface.

“He knows what he wants and how to get it.”

We see and admire people taking action–which is great. But we assume they’re moving forward because they have it all figured out, or have some innate talent that we don’t have.

They don’t. They’ve just figured out the next step and are willing to make up the rest as they go. Sure, there are people who have stuck with one clear, big goal for a while. However, even these people would have to admit that the path to get there was different than they expected. Shut down this comparison by reminding yourself that no one’s plan is perfect and there will always be setbacks and curves along the way–just kept going. 

“She’s not sitting there second-guessing herself.”

She absolutely is, and way more often than you imagine. Thoughts on a loop about options and alternative paths not taken are impossible to stop. The difference is what you do with them when they pop up. You can continue to give in to the distraction or you can quiet the thoughts by acknowledging them and then recommitting to your decision. 

Assuming that others don’t grapple with similar doubts and fears–that others are somehow fundamentally different than us–puts them on a pedestal and holds us back. These thoughts make us feel like there is something wrong with us, that we’re broken when everyone else is whole and functioning flawlessly.

When we continuously remind ourselves that we’re all humans going through the same human experience, it’s easier to put those thoughts in perspective and move on. When you stop comparing you free yourself to start working towards and achieving your own dreams on your own unique journey and timeline.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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