Imposter Syndrome – how to deal with it at work

Imposter Syndrome is something that affects many of us making us doubt our accomplishments and fear being exposed as a ‘fraud’. I had it whilst at University and when I dropped out; it was awful. I felt like I couldn’t do anything and my self confidence was practically non-existent.

A couple of years on though and things have improved dramatically. I have a secure job, which for the most part I enjoy and my life has changed a lot since the day I shut the door of my old Uni flat for good.

However, today was the first time in a while that I felt it creeping back into my brain. I was in a meeting with lots of directors from the charity and although I occasionally had my input, most of the meeting was dictated by their thoughts. For the first time in my current job, I felt totally out of my depth. 

This was only furthered when a seemingly innocent comment was made to a manager about the progress of our team and whether we’d managed to secure any new partnerships since I’d started – the answer is no. It made me feel like a failure to put it bluntly. It made me question whether I can really do my job, paired with the fact that all the people in that room have more experience than the years I’ve been alive.

It’s sometimes daunting being the youngest in the work place but I soon put all of the above into perspective. I can do my job, I’ve only been there a year and a half and I’m not expected to deliver life changing speeches in a room full of directors! 

Here’s how to deal with your imposter syndrome like I did…

Talk to someone or write down your thoughts

Talking about a problem always makes it seem better and can give you great perspective. The person you’re sharing with may be able to give you some good advice too. Just writing my thoughts down has made me feel better about the situation. 

Look back on how far you’ve come

This is something that really helps when I am doubting my abilities. I think about all that I’ve achieved over the years from making the decision to drop out of Uni to overcoming grief. These experiences shape you and make you realise what a superhero you really are!

Ask questions

This is something I don’t do enough of at work. The only way to improve the work you do is to ask questions and learn as much as you can. You’ll feel so much better for asking and feel like you know exactly what you’re doing – squashing that imposter syndrome out for good.

Assess your weaknesses

You may think this would make you feel worse but if you can do this productively and objectively then this could be a good way to settle your mind.  

Make a list of about 3 and think of ways you could improve upon your skills. Chances are once you’ve got them written down, they will seem futile and you’ll put life into perspective.

Define what success means to you

Success is different for everyone. You may be setting unattainable goals for yourself and comparing your success to that of others. This is a massive cause of imposter syndrome. We must live our own lives and stop worrying about what other people are doing. (I’m learning this lesson slowly – but I think I need it tattooed across my head as a constant reminder!)

Pinpoint what makes you feel good. It could be as small as starting some research. The trick is to then reward yourself. We so often complete a task and immediately move onto the next goal without stopping to celebrate our achievements. 

Surround yourself with cheerleaders

Much like my first point, if you share how you’re feeling, those people are likely to support you and tell you how great you are. 

These positive people are the kind of people to surround yourself with. When you’re feeling low, let them compliment you and give you a hug; whether that’s a partner, friend or colleague – those closest to you know you can do it.

It’s hard sometimes, in a workplace full of people to avoid these moments/ days and sometimes weeks of self doubt especially when everyone around you seems to be succeeding but focus on your own journey and know that if you make some small changes, it will pass. 

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