Imagine this. You just got into a juried show, a store just picked up your line or a company offers you a contract to license your work. You should be really pumped, right? You’ve worked so hard for this. But instead of being excited, you have thoughts like, “I’m not as good as they think I am,” or “I don’t know if I can create enough quality work to keep them happy with me.”
Welcome to imposter syndrome. Don’t worry—there’s something you can do about it.
Let’s look at what’s going on. Your brain likes familiarity. When you put yourself in new situations, your brain says, “Danger! Uncertainty lies ahead!” This feels unsafe to your brain, so it floods you with self-doubt. Your brain thinks the self-doubt will cause you to stop what you are doing and keep you safe from potential pain. But you likely want to get past it and continue on this new path. You want to see your art on products, on shelves and on gallery walls! So how do you overcome this self-doubt?
Here are three steps to overcoming imposter syndrome.
Tip 1: Be aware of your thoughts. “Oh, I see my brain is a little nervous about this new venture, and it’s giving me unhelpful thoughts.” Remind yourself, without judgment, that it’s normal for your brain to throw these thoughts at you. Self-doubt is normal. That’s what brains do. You are not doing it wrong. Remember, when you try to grow and take on new challenges, your brain gives you self-doubt to keep you safe from potential harm—sort of like an overprotective parent.
Tip 2: Find a new thought to practice. Now that you are aware of the unhelpful thoughts your brain is giving you, what do you do? Choose new ones! I’ll give you some new thoughts to get you started:
- I had enough skill to get me in the room. I have enough skill to keep me in the room.
- I offer a unique perspective, and that’s why they want my work.
- They chose me for my style, skill and talent.
- I worked hard and overcame so much to get here.
Choose one of the above thoughts (or come up with one of your own) and practice that thought every time self-doubt creeps in. Self-doubt is a stubborn beast. It will take practice on your part to overcome it.
Tip 3: Bolster yourself and your work like the girders holding up the Hollywood sign. It is helpful to actually write out a list of why you belong here.
Include your accomplishments, nice comments you’ve received about your work, what makes your work different and all the blood, sweat and tears (and JOY!) that led you to this point.
Taking time to be aware of the thoughts causing imposter syndrome, choosing new thoughts and being your own biggest supporter will help you get back to sharing your work with the world!
About the Author
Tammie Bennett is a certified mindset coach, speaker, artist, educator and host of the Show Up Society podcast. You can learn more about Tammie at www.showupsociety.com and listen to her podcast at www.showupsociety.com/podcast.