How to combat imposter syndrome at work

How to combat imposter syndrome at work


Ready to take on the world but have a niggling feeling of self-doubt floating in the back of your mind? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here’s how to tackle those pesky fears and turn your insecurities into positives that will work for you.

What is imposter syndrome?

Ever done well at work by nabbing a promotion or being celebrated for your accomplishments – only to suddenly feel like you didn’t deserve the accolades? Yep, that’s imposter syndrome. Worrying about whether you’ll be outed as a fraud or feeling undeserving is super common in the workplace, particularly among women and high achievers. “I’ve felt it and I think it’s pretty natural for people to feel it quite often,” says SB Recruitment founder, Sarah Bolster. “It doesn’t matter how confident or accomplished you are, at some point, certain situations can still bring these kinds of fears to life.” From self-doubt to skewed self-perception and even a fear of success – these feelings are challenging, yes, but totally normal.

Overcoming the negativity

For most people, imposter syndrome is an entirely unfounded fear. Frustratingly, it holds so much power because we continue to reinforce it when we get caught in a negative thinking spiral. Imposter syndrome tricks us into feeling and believing we don’t deserve the career successes or accolades coming our way. While you may feel like you have to fake-it-till-you-make-it every now and then, it’s important to remember that you’re a capable individual and this self-doubt is a waste of your emotional energy. To keep your mind in a positive space, try to practice self-talk as much as possible. Not only does it help build your confidence, it allows you to focus on valuable beliefs that can guide your career in the right direction.

Importantly, try not to let imposter syndrome hold you back from what you want to achieve in your career or the professional opportunities that may come your way. Even a small step in the right direction can have a big impact down the line. Turn ambitious goals into your new best friend and aim to work toward achieving these one by one. This act in itself is super powerful and positive. “There’s an amazing social influencer called Mel Robbins who came up with a thing called the ‘5-second rule’ where you count back from 5 and take action by the time you hit 0”, Sarah explains. “I find really it effective and use it on a daily basis because it gives you time to acknowledge what’s going on but then asks you to push this to the side. If you dwell on these fears too much, you won’t get anything done.”

Using imposter syndrome to your advantage

The thing about imposter syndrome is that no matter how many past accomplishments or how much experience we may have – it still manages to convince us that we’re not good enough. The more we tell ourselves this, the more it starts to feel like the truth. What’s worse – this can lead us to believe that our success is based more on luck than ability. But what if we flipped imposter syndrome on its head? What if instead of telling ourselves lies about our abilities, we were able to recognise these moments of doubt and use them as empowerment tool? “I believe having that edge behind you does make you work a bit harder and makes you a little more determined to break through that barrier,” Sarah explains. “It’s just important not to get too caught up in your own head about it and recognise that it’s your thoughts talking, not anyone else’s perception of you.”

Try to use these moments as motivators and inspiration. You can do this by replacing perfectionism with a focus on all the value you bring to your workplace. Own the success you’ve created and remember luck has nothing to do with it. Importantly, use these times as reminders that you’re on your own path, and that comparing yourself to others is simply wasted energy. If you can keep these concepts in mind the next time you feel that self-doubt niggling, you’ll be in a much better place to turn a limiting moment into a liberating experience.

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