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Beating Imposter Syndrome: Crushing Self-Doubt at Work

Have you ever felt like you’re just faking it at work? That at any moment everyone will realise you are just winging it? You’re not alone! Imposter syndrome hits hard. I know first hand how all encompassing those feelings of self-doubt can be. That nagging voice in your head whispering, “You don’t belong here.”

I always remember a story I was told about a psychiatrist who was incredibly respected in her field, made some wonderful achievements in her career, successful, knowledgeable…yet on retirement her first thought was ‘phew, I never got found out’. Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, even those who have achieved great success.

The negative impact of imposter syndrome:

Imposter syndrome can have some serious consequences in the workplace and beyond, including:

1. Stifled Growth: When you constantly doubt your abilities, it’s easy to stay stuck in your comfort zone. Imposter syndrome can hold you back from taking on new challenges and seizing opportunities for growth and advancement.

2. Burnout: The pressure to prove yourself can lead to chronic stress and burnout. You may find yourself overworking to compensate for perceived inadequacies, which can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being.

3. Undermined Confidence: Imposter syndrome erodes your confidence over time, making it harder to trust in your skills and judgment. This lack of confidence can sabotage your performance and hinder your ability to reach your full potential.

4. Strained Relationships: Imposter syndrome can influence the use of unhelpful coping strategies which can strain relationships with colleagues and supervisors. It can tip us into threat based actions in a bid to protect ourselves from being ‘caught out’, creating an environment of insecurity and competition rather than collaboration and support.

5. Self-Sabotage: Imposter syndrome can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours, such as procrastination, perfectionism, and avoiding challenges altogether. These behaviours can undermine your success and prevent you from achieving your goals.

6. Missed Opportunities: Feeling like a fraud can cause you to downplay your achievements and pass up opportunities for fear of being exposed. This fear of failure can prevent you from taking risks and pursuing your dreams.

7. Job Dissatisfaction: Ultimately, imposter syndrome can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and disillusionment with your career. You may start to question whether you’re in the right field or if you’re capable of achieving your professional goals.

By recognising how it affects you personally and professionally, you can begin to take proactive steps to combat imposter syndrome and reclaim your confidence and self-worth.

Here are some tips to kick imposter syndrome to the curb:

1. Give Yourself Props: Take a moment to acknowledge your wins, big and small. Keep a mental trophy case of your accomplishments. When we feel flooded by self doubt, it can feel like putting on a pair of tinted glasses whereby we can only see the information that confirms our worst fears. By holding a bank of information that disconfirms this, it makes it easier to let helpful information filter through and challenge the persistent negative self talk.

2.Lean on Your Crew: Don’t go it alone—reach out to your work colleagues and manager when imposter feelings strike. Sharing struggles can lighten the load and open up conversations to normalise and address these feelings.

3.Take Baby Steps: Break down daunting tasks into bite-sized chunks. Celebrate each victory along the way, no matter how small. This offers more opportunity for acknowledging achievements and confirming our capabilities.

4.Embrace mistakes: Mistakes happen, and that’s okay! We’re all human and expecting perfection sets us up for failure. Use slip-ups as chances to learn and grow. Draw on courage to support you to lean into vulnerability and allow yourself grace when mistakes do happen. Maybe do some research into great business people who have made some big slip ups- there are many many stories out there for inspiration!

So next time imposter syndrome creeps in, take charge. Lean on self-care, compassion and your support system to tackle self-doubt head-on. And remember- just because your tricky brain tells you it, it doesn’t make it true!