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How to Set Boundaries with Impostor Syndrome

How to Set Boundaries with Impostor Syndrome

A lot of people (including myself) talk about setting boundaries. For good reason – they’re necessary for positive, productive, respectful relationships.

But how do you set a boundary when the other person is your client?

When you experience Impostor Syndrome, this is an incredibly tough ask. I know from my own work and I see it everyday in freelancing groups.

Recently I started doing something I’ve never tried before – I’m weaning myself off the need for other people’s approval, affirmation and approbation.

I’m not just talking about clients, but everyone.

If you tune in to how you interact with people, you’ll start to notice how often you seek support, reassurance or compliments in your day-to-day life.

  • Can you check this email?
  • Is this a good way to put this?
  • Should I tell him I can do it for Wednesday?
  • Do I look okay in this outfit?
  • Did you like that book I recommended?
  • Do you think they liked the presentation?

Then there’s the stealth approval checks: “Right?”, “Does that make sense?” and “What do you think?”

I’m guessing you’ll be surprised how often you unconsciously ask others to co-sign your opinions.

You may wonder what this has to do with setting boundaries. It’s simple: You can’t stand up for yourself if you don’t believe in yourself.

That may sound dramatic – getting someone to check your email doesn’t mean you think you’re a fraud. But these types of questions suggest you doubt your own judgment.

Step one toward setting better boundaries is to release the need to check-in with others about your actions, your work, your life choices and the way you present yourself. Simply resist the urge to ask these questions, and go with the decision you think is right.

It’s going to be tough at first. Having no second opinion will make you feel insecure.

Press on.

You’ll worry about your “questionable” choices having repercussions.

Press on.

You’ll miss that flood of relief when others affirm your decisions.

Press on.

It won’t happen in a day. But if you persist, you’ll start feeling less need for others’ approval.

The more you depend on yourself, the more you’ll trust your thoughts on when a boundary needs setting.

It will also lessen your concern over how the other person will react to that boundary.

Please don’t misunderstand – it’s important to set boundaries with tact and respect. I’m not suggesting you get to a point where you don’t care about others’ feelings or your work relationships.

I’m suggesting that you have enough judgment to know when a boundary needs setting, and how to set it productively.

Now, convince yourself of that.

Click here to pick up my six strategies for overcoming Impostor Syndrome as a freelancer.

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Original blog post: How to Set Boundaries with Impostor Syndrome