What to Tell Yourself When Your Brain Says, “I’m Not Good Enough.”

Dealing with the imposter syndrome as a writer.

What to Tell Yourself When Your Brain Says, “I’m Not Good Enough.”
Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

Dealing with the imposter syndrome as a writer.

For the longest time, I denied myself opportunities because I felt I wasn’t good enough.

When a fellow writer asked me to be their writing coach, I told them I wasn’t the right person.

When a startup founder was looking for a content marketer, I referred them to someone else because I felt I wouldn’t be able to do it.

When someone asks where they can buy my books, I tell them to wait for the new one because the ones currently on sale aren’t good enough.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

As a writer, when the imposter syndrome hits hard, there’s very little you can do to battle it. It consumes you from within and eats up all your self-worth. It makes you question your abilities and throws doubt on your achievements.

But we are only human. How can we battle this all-consuming imposter syndrome that constantly keeps whispering in our ears that we aren’t good enough?

With time, I’ve perfected a few steps that work for me. I’m sharing them here so you can apply them whenever you feel like an imposter.

1. Look at the other side of the coin.

Journal. Write your achievements down.

Keep track of every minor milestone you achieved. You put in sweat and tears to make these happen. You deserve to remember them, especially on your bad days.

Store all the compliments you receive in one place. Whenever you feel you aren’t good enough, you can look at this collection of positive snippets and derive some hope.

I maintain a “Happy words” folder in my computer where I save screenshots of all the comments that made me smile. On days when I’m assailed by self-doubt, I look at these pictures. Sometimes, they make me cry harder, but on most days, they fill my heart with the assurance that I’m not doing as bad as my brain is trying to convince.

2. Focus on what you see rather than how you feel.

I love sending over proposals and contracts to clients. But when it comes to sending invoices, I hesitate.

“Do I really deserve to be paid that much for a 1000–word article?”

I’ve had these thoughts not for random articles that were never published. I actually hesitated while invoicing for articles that ranked #1 on Google and brought in multiple thousands of page views to my clients.

There’s no limit to the extent your brain will go to make you feel unworthy if you don’t take active measures to shut it down.

This can be true for any writer. You might see great results, but your heart might still tell you they’re worth nothing.

Learn to shut your inner voice up, especially when the results tell you otherwise. Focus on what’s in front of your eyes, not what the voice in your head tells you.

3. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones.

Make it a point to reward yourself whenever you check off something important on your to-do list.

This can be in the form of a self-pampering session or a social media post celebrating your success.

Learn to take joy and pride whenever you overcome an obstacle. Keep iterating to your subconscious that you’re worth it and deserve all the praise and adulation coming your way.

4. Let go of perfectionism. Embrace authenticity.

The favorite companion of the imposter syndrome is the need to be perfect in everything.

When you chase perfection, you delay results.

You either get lost in an endless loop of “what if”s and never take any action. Or you change your work so much to fit your definition of “perfect,” that no trace of your creativity is left in it.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, don’t obsess over being “perfect” in everything you do. Make mistakes, learn from them, and embrace them as essential parts of your growth journey.

Your audience will appreciate you for showing your vulnerable side to them. You can build a community while doing what you love. The power of this is tremendous. Don’t let your need to be “perfect” steal this away from you.

5. Say “yes” to opportunities.

You might have a ton of credibility and social proof. But when your heart tells you that you don’t deserve any of it, it can get difficult to believe otherwise.

Sometimes, this can get so toxic, that every time an opportunity presents itself, you might refrain from accepting it for the fear of what will happen if it doesn’t turn out the way you or the client want to.

I’ve denied myself so many opportunities thinking -

  • I know nothing, and learning now won’t assure good results.
  • I’m not the right person for it.
  • I have no experience, so it’s best if somebody else does it.

If you ever feel burdened by thoughts like this, learn to identify that it’s your imposter syndrome speaking. Don’t listen to it. You’re stronger than that.

Say yes even when you’re not sure how you’ll make them work.

You can figure out the nuances later on.

For now, just say yes and forge your own path. It might not always be easy, but in the end, it will definitely be worth it.

Final words

These steps don’t work every day. But I’m trying, and it’s slowly getting better. There’s still a long way to go, for sure.

Summarizing, here are the five things you can do when your brain tells you you’re not good enough:

  1. Journal your achievements and store all positive comments in one place.
  2. Focus on what you see, not what your heart tells you.
  3. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones.
  4. Let go of perfectionism. Embrace authenticity.
  5. Say “yes” to opportunities.

How do you deal with imposter syndrome? Do let me know some helpful tricks and tips in the comments.

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