How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work

Posted By admin |20 May 2020
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work
By Jess Hoban
Photo by Designecologist from Pexels
You might have never heard of the term before, but imposter syndrome can provide a helpful explanation for why many of us struggle to value our achievements in the workplace. 

So what exactly is imposter syndrome? 

Imposter syndrome refers to an internal belief that you haven't earned your job title at the company. It is driven by what we perceive as others expectations for ourselves, and the panic of being exposed for our supposed inadequacy.  This has affected people at different stages of their careers, whether you're an intern or receiving a promotion. Whatever it is, thinking like you do not deserve it or panicking over external expectations can be damaging to your self-esteem and attitude to work.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you agonize over even the smallest mistakes or flaws in your work?
  • Do you attribute your success to luck or outside factors?
  • Are you very sensitive to even constructive criticism?
  • Do you feel like you will inevitably be found out as a phony?
  • Do you downplay your own expertise, even in areas where you are genuinely more skilled than others?
Impostor syndrome encourages a vicious cycle of thinking that the only reason you did well in a presentation or an exam is that you lost sleep revising and preparing for it accessively.  If you answered 'yes' to any of the questions, you might have already experienced the feeling of imposter syndrome. Although the urge to improve and push yourself beyond your usual capacity can be rewarding, striving for this all the time when it is not necessary can turn exhausting and unhealthy. 
Photo by Vicky Tran from Pexels

So what are the ways that you can overcome this feeling?

  1. Moving forward, pay attention to when you start to think negatively about your work or achievements.
  2. Begin with asking uplifting questions such as; 'What core beliefs do I hold about myself?' Focussing on how you view yourself rather than worrying about others can help you build your confidence up. 
  3. Try acknowledging the times where you find yourself comparing your achievements with your colleagues. This is a habit many of us are guilty of and can turn damaging if used to bash your own accomplishments. When you catch yourself thinking about how someone has (for example) several years more experience than you in the company, remind yourself to value your own journey to get to where you are now.
As many of the issues surrounding imposter syndrome start from a young age, it will take time to break the habits that have formed. However, by making a conscious effort to address the thoughts when they occur, you can take steps to gain more confidence in your workplace.