Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Woman dealing with impostor syndrome

We’ve talked to many professionals from all over the world who have practised nutrition in some impressive circles.

But regardless of their experience or their accomplishments, many still don’t feel like they belong… Does this sound familiar?

Have you experienced feeling that you just aren’t on par with other professionals in your field – even though you’ve worked as hard as anyone else to be there?

Welcome to the world of “Impostor Syndrome.”

What’s impostor syndrome and why do many of us experience it?

Impostor syndrome is often described as a fear of being exposed as a professional “fraud.”

Think of it like standing in front of a professor or even high-school teacher with an essay you’ve worked hard on for weeks…

Then, that teacher points out every flaw and belittles you in front of everyone, destroying your reputation and making you feel foolish.

You studied, did the research, and put yourself out there…

Only to have your shortcomings steal the show.

For many nutrition professionals who have poured their heart and soul into learning how to help people, all it takes is one mistake or a serious challenge to shake their confidence to the core.

Don’t feel too bad, though…

You’re not alone!

According to an article in the Journal of Behavioral Science, Impostor Syndrome impacts nearly 70-percent of people in professional positions.

How you can keep from feeling that way

So, how can I keep from feeling this way you might be thinking?

It’s really difficult to change those kinds of feelings…

What you CAN do is learn to recognise your feelings and to respond to them in a way that’s constructive, as opposed to destructive!

Let’s go over you a couple of tips to shift that mindset to a more positive one:

First, own it.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to own your feelings and your fears.

For example, you could take an inventory of situations and triggers that would normally set off the negative feelings associated with Impostor Syndrome.

Do you feel…

  • like a fraud, as if others are about to expose you?
  • that you never achieve perfection?
  • that you always could have done more?
  • that you have no right doing what you’re doing (helping people with their health and nutrition)
  • that you always compare yourself against another person, and always come bottom?
  • that your clients deserve better?
  • that you are ‘winging it’ all the time?
  • that you’re pretending to be someone you’re not?
  • that you don’t have sufficient credentials?
  • that others usually know more about your own profession than you do?

If any of those resonates, try to do a short exercise that allows you to shift your mindset, to breathe and reprogram your knee-jerk reaction.

Instead of thinking, “I’m going to say the wrong thing and sound stupid,” think, “Wow, this is an opportunity to learn something new!”

Listen to any objections to what you’re saying, recognise the other person’s right to disagree, and then pause the conversation to research the validity of both points.

Sometimes, when you’re struggling with self-doubt, it helps to back up what you’re saying with scientific research. That can bolster your confidence and add credibility to what you have to say.

(Or say that you’ve studied with The Health Sciences Academy, which goes beyond and above most universities with their outdated and theoretical training!)

Practice changing how you think

It helps to know that so many others are struggling with the same feelings.

Instead of beating yourself up or letting negative emotional responses take over, remind yourself that NO ONE knows everything!

Just because you still have things to learn, or others do not know what they are talking about, doesn’t make you less intelligent than anyone else.

Remember:

Any nutrition professional who says that they know EVERYTHING probably has the most to learn.

Reach out and ask for help

Again, you’re not alone!

So don’t be afraid to talk about Impostor Syndrome or your feelings of inadequacy with other professionals. You might be surprised how others can identify (remember, 70%…).

Whether they’re colleagues or professionals in the field of nutrition or health and wellness, or psychological professionals depends on you and your needs.

Just know that there’s no shame in feeling the way you do, and that it can be a good thing to communicate this to others.

Pause and revisit the topic that made you uncomfortable

If you find yourself in a client-facing situation when you don’t have the nutrition advice they need right then and there, it’s okay to revisit the answer later.

It’s always better to give a right answer than a fast one.

There’s no shame in saying, “Let me get back to you with an answer, because there’s been so much recent research. I’ll check it out for you and get back with you in a bit!”

Keep in mind, nutrition is a scientific field that’s barely been scratched over the last fifty years!

We have so much to learn, and there are so many different sources of information, that it would be troubling if we WEREN’T wrong some of the time.

Mistakes are a fantastic catalyst for knowledge. And as long as you’re willing to learn from them, the more you make, the smarter you’ll become!

Know your worth and recognise your wins…

To help you overcome Impostor Syndrome as a nutrition professional, consider these two things:

  1. Learn as much as you can about the science of nutrition that is relevant to your clients. Consider adding some additional certifications to your line-up to feed your knowledge base and build your confidence.
  2. KNOW YOUR WORTH! Don’t downplay your wins. Recognise them. Chances are, you wouldn’t be in your position if you hadn’t proven your capabilities, and you deserve to feel good about that.

What can be extremely helpful is if you write down three of your accomplishments each day. You will then either realise that you need to focus more on making things happen, or they might serve as daily affirmations that remind you of how amazing you really are.

Are you ready to start building more professional confidence?

Click here to check out our certifications, and lock in your joining fees before they double on 1st September 2019!