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How to overcome Impostor Syndrome
Old 14th December 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 
Waywyn's Avatar
 

How to overcome Impostor Syndrome

Hey everyone,

I wrote this blog post recently. Let me know what you think!


How to overcome Impostor Syndrome

Even though you may have never heard of this exact definition of the problem, you and almost every creative individual experienced this phenomenon to at least some degree.

The doubts of our accomplishments and the persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud – disregarding of all the success, the happy customers and everything we have achieved so far.

While, for some, the Impostor Syndrome is just a thought, popping up once in a while, others really suffer from it in a way more extreme form.

Before we dive into eight strategies on how to finally overcome the Impostor Syndrome, we have to talk about our selective cognition, which are very important to understand.


Your selective cognition
There it is again, our selective cognition which is essential when it comes to becoming aware and filtering out the important things of our surroundings. If this feature wouldn’t be available, our brain would probably get grilled by all the sensations of all our senses coming in at once.

However, our brain, with a “little” help from our selective cognition, is also very great at filtering out all the positive achievements and skills from everyone else, comparing them to all the imaginary faults of you.


1. Become aware of your selective cognition
Every time you are, for example, around on social media and read through the posts of your connected people, you have to become aware what is happening there. Basically everyone, mostly, shares positive happenings, new achievements, videos of their brilliant skills, credits they are mentioned in, new releases and so on. What you are seeing are results, finalized content or released products. What you don’t see is the way, the process, the blood, the sweat and the tears and all the moments something went wrong, with all their imperfections …. and even if we see moments going wrong, people share them as outtakes at the end of their video, which again, appearing to be funny and positive.

Every time you feel those doubts coming up, that you feel worthless or, in your imagination, being exposed of your inabilities, become aware that your brain presents you all positive skills from all people, compared to what you think you are not good at. Become aware that you see a picture which is not worth being processed.

Ask yourself, would you compare all the money from all the people you are connected with, to the money on just your bank account? It should be obvious that you always appear to be the poor one!


2. Self doubt
If you feel that you are not being worthy of all your success and achievements, you may generally doubt yourself or even your existence. If this is the case, you definitely should get a bit into basic psychology and understand a potential cause of this problem. While we grow up, we internalize sets of beliefs which are being heavily influenced by our main educators.

Disregarding if your childhood was a good one all in all, maybe there were a few intensive moments or a longer period of time when someone told you, that you are, for example, “not being worth living in this house” or “you will never make it” or “I don’t know what I should do with you, you are just worthless”.

These situations manifest in us and form our negative sets of beliefs. Since we, as grownups, carry around our inner child deep within us, it gets unleashed in emotional moments, being triggered by our negative beliefs. That is why we get angry or start to cry … or simply, feel worthless which again triggers your potential self doubt.

Now what to do? Grab a picture of yourself when you were a kid and tell it, that it is not in charge anymore, that you are a grown up now and strong enough to deal with problems like these. That someone, when you were a kid, just told you these negative things, because they had their own problems, stress and issues to deal with. That your inner child is always being loved and safe now, no matter what happens.


3. Positive lists
Whenever you have these thoughts coming up, that you are not being worth your success, a positive list always does wonders. It simply helps us to make use of our selective cognition in a positive sense, enabling us to visualize all the things we have achieved so far in our life. Now matter how small!

Sit down, create a positive list and write down all the things you achieved so far in your life. See everything you did so far at once … and be proud of it!


4. Analyze your fear
The truth is, if you have doubts, you are afraid of something. If you are afraid of something, you have to track down the cause, no matter how ridiculous it will be at end.

For example: I am afraid because I feel, that one day, someone would expose that I can’t read score very well, even though I am writing a lot of orchestral music. If this happens, I am afraid that I could lose my job, ending up on the streets, have nothing to eat, resulting in my potential death.

So, if you sum that up, you tracked down your problem, which in a way, sounds sort of funny if you really think about it:

Only because you are not able to write or read score that well, you could die!

Isn’t this a bit like that moment when all the time you were afraid of daddy longlegs and suddenly experience that moment, when you look at one really close and realize that it is just a small animal which can’t harm you at all? Or that the tunnel at the end of your street were you used to grow up, isn’t really that dark and scary? Suddenly things like these, appear completely different, once you took some time to analyze them!

Of course your fear could be a different one, but it is absolutely worth it to take a moment to track and break these things down like this, in order to find the cause of it.

Also ask yourself, even if someone would expose this issue, as in our example, of not being able to write or read score that well, would it change anything on how your clients see you? … which brings me to the next point.


5. The result is all that matters
It is that simple. The result, your outcome, your finalized product, track or album is all that matters! All that matters is, that you delivered, the client is happy and the payment arrived at your bank account, enabling you to pay your bills.

Ask yourself – did you ever experience the situation of someone calling you and saying:

“Well, your track sounds really amazing, but at spot 0:37 mins it feels like you can’t read viola score very well. Not sure if we should use it!”

“Hello, that track is sounding great, but I could clearly hear you needed around two days to mix the snare only! Therefore I won’t pay you this time which results in your death because I will tell everyone about it!”

“Hi, I listened to your track and there is one triad being played, which sounds as if you simply layered a patch of eight french horns for each note? It means there are 24 french horns playing? Where do you live? Aren’t you familiar with orchestral instrumentation?”

… said no client ever!


6. The Perfectionist
Would this be a problem you are struggling with? You want to make it perfect and on the next day, by listening again to your composition, you find some more issues you want to get rid of … to make it even more perfect.

There may be a cause:
As above in the section of “Self Doubt”, one possible negative belief could live inside of you, that has been caused by that one person who you were never able to please with. No matter what you did and how much effort you put into it, it was never good enough and you hardly got any attention for your achievements.

Now you want to make it perfect, no, you want to make it way more perfectererer, so the world appreciates you (but subconsciously your only hope is, that this one person finally appreciates you. Even though this person may be dead already … oh wait!)

Again, make use of the strategy to talk to your inner child. It necessarily doesn’t have to be a photo of you as a kid. You could also write your inner child a letter or, in your imagination, take it onto your arm and take a walk through a beautiful park.


7. Three people jump
Imagine that there are two professional jumpers and you. There is an announcement that everyone is welcomed to jump over that huge hole in front of you, resulting in a financial reward.

The first guy rejects the offer and doesn’t jump. Then it is your turn. You somehow think that you are probably not that professional and well trained as the other jumpers but you sometimes trained in your backyard and also know of what to take care of in order to cross that hole. You take a run, jump and successfully manage to land on the other side.

As the third guy is about to jump, he somehow slips off and falls into the hole, which is not that deep, resulting in no serious injuries. However, he didn’t make it!

Now you take your reward, because you won and suddenly … do you have those nagging thoughts coming up?

“Did I deserve it? One guy who was way more professional than me didn’t jump and the other guy slipped off. I somehow don’t deserve this money, because I feel like sneaking through or having luck!”

Maybe, to make it worse, you hear the other jumpers say: “Yeah nice, could have done better!”

Now, if you see your career like this little contest, it all becomes pretty obvious:

There is always someone better than you! Don’t waste your time to compare yourself and the circumstances about why being someone better didn’t get the gig, didn’t want it or didn’t make it! You did!
The jumper who told you that he could have done better. Yes, congratulations, but he didn’t! You did!
You know that you are capable of and you should enjoy what you do. This is what defines success! You also know what you are not capable of, but this is better than the guy who didn’t make it, because he overestimated himself.
See this contest as a little event, which took place and not something your entire life depends on. In other words: See your work as a photograph. You captured a moment and then you move on to the next one!
By the way, do you remember if I have written “that you are not as professional as the others” or “that you somehow think you are not that professional” above in the second paragraph of this section! See how much eventually happens inside your head


8. Your self confidence
When you are a self confident person you simply don’t care what others say about you, unless it is constructive criticism. You also don’t care about if someone exposes what you are not capable of, because it doesn’t play any role when people celebrate your music, which is a result of your skills!

Besides this, you are also perfectly aware that sometimes people are simply jealous and try to talk you down, but it instead of worrying about it, you simply feel being charged up and ready to go for your next race.

Furthermore, you also experience less or no self doubt in what you do, because you simply enjoy it and be perfectly aware that this life is not about competition or finding anything, but about creating it!

Always keep in kind that you are an individual part of the whole universe, expressing itself through you.

Your art is pure universal power unleashed … and there is nothing to doubt about!


Last but not least, I created a nice worksheet for you!
(you can get this on the direct post - link to my blog in my signature)

Last edited by Waywyn; 18th January 2019 at 10:12 AM..
Old 14th December 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
I heard in an interview with Sting he has suffered this all his life.

He is the son of a milkman from a working class humble back ground - he said he's always waiting for someone to come up to him
as he stands outside one of his £30M mansions and say - "hey you - cop out of it - you don't belong here"

It's just human nature.

It's a feeling no matter how successful I have become both musically and financially that I also can't shake.

Personally I think it depends where you start from - the further you come the harder you find it to believe you've managed to get as far
as you have - I think if I was as successful as Sting I would seriously suffer from the syndrome you describe!

I bet, for example, Prince Harry has never ever suffered from imposter syndrome as he was literally born to his lofty life style.

Good article - well written
Old 17th December 2018
  #3
on a mod note - we're not really meant to allow blog promotion here.

I'll leave this one for now, but in future please post the text in your post - the link to your blog in the .sig is fine.
Old 17th December 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 

I dont have to worry bout this one
Old 18th January 2019
  #5
Gear Head
 
Waywyn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
on a mod note - we're not really meant to allow blog promotion here.

I'll leave this one for now, but in future please post the text in your post - the link to your blog in the .sig is fine.
Oh, I wasn't aware of this! Thanks for now and next time I have an article going, I will copy it right into the post!
Old 18th January 2019
  #6
Gear Head
 
Waywyn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post
I heard in an interview with Sting he has suffered this all his life.

He is the son of a milkman from a working class humble back ground - he said he's always waiting for someone to come up to him
as he stands outside one of his £30M mansions and say - "hey you - cop out of it - you don't belong here"

It's just human nature.

It's a feeling no matter how successful I have become both musically and financially that I also can't shake.

Personally I think it depends where you start from - the further you come the harder you find it to believe you've managed to get as far
as you have - I think if I was as successful as Sting I would seriously suffer from the syndrome you describe!

I bet, for example, Prince Harry has never ever suffered from imposter syndrome as he was literally born to his lofty life style.

Good article - well written
Sorry for the late reply! Thank you so much!
Old 18th January 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
on a mod note - we're not really meant to allow blog promotion here.

I'll leave this one for now, but in future please post the text in your post - the link to your blog in the .sig is fine.
That was a polite and professional exchange, thank you. Some moderators are not quite as tactful and should take note that courtesy and respect is the right way to address members both Public and PM. Thanks!
Old 18th January 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 
Waywyn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jml designs View Post
That was a polite and professional exchange, thank you. Some moderators are not quite as tactful and should take note that courtesy and respect is the right way to address members both Public and PM. Thanks!
Yep, very generous indeed! However, to accommodate a bit, I copied the article directly to the post!
Old 18th January 2019
  #9
Old 1st February 2019
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Lots and lots of people try to claim this malady, but it's far rarer than people think.

Having an occasional feeling that you're not as good as you think, or that you don't really have the skills for a given gig, isn't "imposter syndrome." These occasional feelings are perfectly normal thought processes that accompany the creative act.

A real sufferer with I.S. believes, completely and without doubt, that they have faked their way through life at every turn, they have none of the skills required for their job, and when the fraud is discovered, everything in their lives will fall apart. Unless you can claim that you live with this sickening dread all the time, you are not suffering from imposter's syndrome.

I once angered all the regulars in a game audio sub on Facebook by insisting that there just weren't that many people with I.S., and that most people misinterpret perfectly normal feelings as pathology. Man, they got pissed with me when I told them they didn't have it.
Old 24th February 2019
  #11
I have imposter syndrome mixed with no success, it's a great combination
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
I played and recorded music full time for 25+ years.

Then I went to law school and lost most of my bass playing and music chops.

Now I've been an immigration and criminal defense attorney for about 4 years (I'm 58) and feel like a complete imposter. Being an imposter in music is one thing, but as an attorney, if I blow it, people go to jail or get deported. And I can't fall back on the music thing because my hands and mind just don't do what they used to.

However, people still love my recording (imposter there because tinnitus is taking over).

At this point, the only thing I don't feel like an imposter at is being a dad, but in a way I do, because at my age, I should have grandkids, not a 7 year old (although there is underlying trauma there because his birth went horribly sideways and he suffered a hypoxic brain injury, from which he recovered after a couple of years, but it was terrifying and a long row to hoe. I thought I was watching him die right after the birth).

However, today, I met with the Pepsi Center staff in Denver to advance a gig there and then got a kid off with community service who was facing some terrible charges. Last month, I saved a 9 year old boy with psychological issues from losing his dad. So, something is going right, but I am constantly terrified and past victories mean nothing (which is true in music, too, so I bet that plays into the imposter syndrome).

Life sure is weird.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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frans's Avatar
I was talking about a similar topic with a few friends, from different professional fields in the last years. The common thread is that (increasingly in the last 2 decades) managment consists mostly of impostors. Not in the way that they are into self doubt, but that they (in significant numbers) lack the knowledge and the skills to do the job, their foremost skill is thinking highly of themselves, regardless of their reverse Midas touch. We compared management (people, tactics, work ethos, etc.) in specific and broader cases and everyone was observing the same phenomenon - management today mostly lost contact with reality, doesn't acknowledge existing problems and instead tinker with processes that were working so they stop working. Where management formerly tried to have the company working efficiently like a well oiled machine, today management strangle everything by insisting it runs on the utter minimum of input/costs, barely running at all. They call that accounting. Also they mostly treat the people who do the work as papercups/throwaway items, ask for loyalty and never do anything themselves to actually earn it. On top of that the usual corruption and criminal proceedings. We culled this conclusions based on insider knowledge amongst us from (for example) Siemens, Telekom, the european patent offices, the two biggest publishers in germany, some goverment agencies, german railway and then some more.

So if you do your job, even somewhat less than perfect, you already do way, way, waaaay better than a lot of people wearing 2000€ suits. Being insecure if you are "good enough" is a sign of mental health in a society that's bat**** crazy.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
I was talking about a similar topic with a few friends, from different professional fields in the last years. The common thread is that (increasingly in the last 2 decades) managment consists mostly of impostors. Not in the way that they are into self doubt, but that they (in significant numbers) lack the knowledge and the skills to do the job, their foremost skill is thinking highly of themselves, regardless of their reverse Midas touch.

Are we talking about the same thing? I didn't think we were talking about actual imposters, but those who live with "sickening dread", Seamus said, of feeling that they are fakes.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I guess one way to cope with the syndrome would be to compare yourself to a genuine Impostor. I have one I deal with on a daily basis; I can send him on over.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I guess one way to cope with the syndrome would be to compare yourself to a genuine Impostor. I have one I deal with on a daily basis; I can send him on over.
I think we are all dealing with impostors. Sounds like the general definition of most politicians!

On another (maybe related note), I had a friend in college who had a black cat that ran away. About three weeks later, it reappeared and settled back into its old life. However, after a while, they realized it was a different cat, so it was named: Impostor!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
I think we are all dealing with impostors. Sounds like the general definition of most politicians!

On another (maybe related note), I had a friend in college who had a black cat that ran away. About three weeks later, it reappeared and settled back into its old life. However, after a while, they realized it was a different cat, so it was named: Impostor!
Around our house we had two nearly identical feral black kittens, which my kids named Mick and Mojo. One of them was hit by a car one day, so we had to arbitrarily decide which one was still alive, and the kids decided it was Mick (who turned out to be female). A bit of time passed, Mick got bigger, and a third, nearly identical cat appeared. Was it Mick? No it was not, so its name became Notmick.

Actually I suspect that due to the difficulty of establishing a positive ID, the flat cat in the street wasn't Mojo in the first place. And that Notmick is actually Mojo.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
I think, therefore I impost.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post
I heard in an interview with Sting he has suffered this all his life.

He is the son of a milkman from a working class humble back ground - he said he's always waiting for someone to come up to him
as he stands outside one of his £30M mansions and say - "hey you - cop out of it - you don't belong here"
I think this has a lot to do with the English 'class system'. I don't know how much this is still the case these days but for people of Sting's age it certainly was still true. It meant that the way you naturally talk will 'classify' you. There is a great DVD about the life of the amazing classical guitarist Julian Bream. Coming from more working class origins he started studying at the Royal College of Music at age 16 I believe. At one point he got called into the head office and was told 'you cannot talk like this here'. Meaning that his normal way of speaking (his 'class accent' if you will) was not acceptable at this prestigious institute. It seems amazing to people from other countries. But most countries don't hand out Sir and Esq. and Lady Something tags and don't entertain a royal family as a museum piece.

With Sting - who I think is a is a GREAT songwriter, bass player, singer, performer - I always had the feeling that he was craving for 'academic acceptance' no matter how big his success was in the pop world. This certainly had a lot to do with the working class background, though it's also certainly more than that. It's great if an artist wants to keep growing and expand, etc but with all those lute recitals and stage pieces I think it went overboard.

Hopefully he is proud of what his dad/family did and as much as I detest the extreme capitalism so common in the US I must say that the 'class syndrom' is certainly not an issue. So coming from seemingly 'meagre' beginnings would rather increase your status I think.

But ultimately my opinion is that you stay the same as a person no matter where you are in your career or whatever your 'status' is. You simply need to accept that you may have self-doubts and realize that this is not the end of it. In a creative sense it will often be helpful. Totally relaxed and issue-free people seem suspicious to me, it often is a mask i.e good acting.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker View Post
I think this has a lot to do with the English 'class system'. I don't know how much this is still the case these days but for people of Sting's age it certainly was still true. It meant that the way you naturally talk will 'classify' you. There is a great DVD about the life of the amazing classical guitarist Julian Bream. Coming from more working class origins he started studying at the Royal College of Music at age 16 I believe. At one point he got called into the head office and was told 'you cannot talk like this here'. Meaning that his normal way of speaking (his 'class accent' if you will) was not acceptable at this prestigious institute. It seems amazing to people from other countries. But most countries don't hand out Sir and Esq. and Lady Something tags and don't entertain a royal family as a museum piece.

With Sting - who I think is a is a GREAT songwriter, bass player, singer, performer - I always had the feeling that he was craving for 'academic acceptance' no matter how big his success was in the pop world. This certainly had a lot to do with the working class background, though it's also certainly more than that. It's great if an artist wants to keep growing and expand, etc but with all those lute recitals and stage pieces I think it went overboard.

Hopefully he is proud of what his dad/family did and as much as I detest the extreme capitalism so common in the US I must say that the 'class syndrom' is certainly not an issue. So coming from seemingly 'meagre' beginnings would rather increase your status I think.

But ultimately my opinion is that you stay the same as a person no matter where you are in your career or whatever your 'status' is. You simply need to accept that you may have self-doubts and realize that this is not the end of it. In a creative sense it will often be helpful. Totally relaxed and issue-free people seem suspicious to me, it often is a mask i.e good acting.
Great post
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seamus OReally View Post
Lots and lots of people try to claim this malady, but it's far rarer than people think.

Having an occasional feeling that you're not as good as you think, or that you don't really have the skills for a given gig, isn't "imposter syndrome." These occasional feelings are perfectly normal thought processes that accompany the creative act.

A real sufferer with I.S. believes, completely and without doubt, that they have faked their way through life at every turn, they have none of the skills required for their job, and when the fraud is discovered, everything in their lives will fall apart. Unless you can claim that you live with this sickening dread all the time, you are not suffering from imposter's syndrome.

I once angered all the regulars in a game audio sub on Facebook by insisting that there just weren't that many people with I.S., and that most people misinterpret perfectly normal feelings as pathology. Man, they got pissed with me when I told them they didn't have it.
I suspect you might be a psychologist or mental health specialist. I'm a retired school psychologist myself. You should have seen the pissed off parents when I told them their son or daughter did not in fact have ADHD, even though their family Dr said they did (with no evaluation of any kind from the MD other than verbal report from the parents and teacher).
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