Defeating imposter syndrome: A survivor's guide to workplace confidence

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Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 28/06/2023

By Esme Wade, content marketer at MacMartin

Imposter syndrome, we’ve all heard of it and most of us have felt it too. The intrusive thoughts where our brains tell us “you’re not good enough”, are a common psychological pattern of self-doubt that plenty of people feel. Defeating imposter syndrome, however, is the real challenge.

Self-doubt within your career might present itself as a lack of confidence in your skills, abilities, knowledge, and accomplishments, despite all the evidence suggesting that you’re actually pretty great at what you do. It’s a feeling that many people experience, and it can be particularly difficult to deal with in the workplace.

In an effort to conquer imposter syndrome once and for all, here are some tips for when that pesky voice in your head decides to make an unwelcome appearance.

You’ve come so far

Most of us feel wholly uncomfortable acknowledging our achievements. It somehow feels arrogant. In reality though, it’s not arrogance but instead is just an admission of the truth – that being that you’ve got lots to celebrate. Facing up to your own accomplishments might just remind you of why you got to where you are.

One of the most effective ways to combat imposter syndrome is to acknowledge and recognise your achievements. Take some time to reflect on your past successes and the challenges you’ve overcome, and defeating imposter syndrome might feel a little easier. It might surprise you how much you have managed to achieve recently. In fact, you could even make a list of your accomplishments, big and small, and then it is there to revisit whenever you’re feeling like an imposter at work. Your achievements speak louder than your self-doubt, you just have to learn to block out the negative thoughts.

Comparison is the thief of joy

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially in a work environment. In a world where social media has given us a deep insight into everyone else’s life, is there any wonder why we’ve all adopted the habit of comparing ourselves?

It’s important to remember, however, that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and the likelihood is we are only seeing the best in others and the worst in ourselves. Defeating imposter syndrome starts with not judging ourselves against others. Just because someone else excels in one area, it doesn’t mean they are not struggling elsewhere. You are not alone.

No one is perfect and others’ strengths do not mean that yours are any less valuable. Focus on your own progress and growth and celebrate the achievements of others without feeling like you need to measure up to them.

Seek out support

Opening up can be a great form of medicine in the mission to cure your imposter syndrome. Talking to others can be incredibly helpful. Seek out a mentor or trusted colleague who can provide encouragement and perspective, as they’ll likely be able to reassure you of your own abilities and skills. They might have experienced similar feelings themselves and be in a position to offer valuable advice.

Be kind to yourself

Funnily enough, if we tell ourselves that we’re rubbish we begin to feel pretty rubbish. The way we talk to ourselves can have a significant impact on our self-esteem and confidence. Psychologically, our brain adopts the narrative that it tells itself, even if it is totally fictional. It’s a means to protect ourselves. If we assume we’re not good enough, there’s the impression that we won’t be letting ourselves down. Realistically though, that doesn’t work and is not even necessary.

If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, try to reframe your thoughts in a more positive light. Instead of focusing on your perceived weaknesses, try to focus on your strengths and the things you do well. Being kind to yourself is huge in the process of defeating imposter syndrome.

You’ve got this

Change the narrative and you can change your story. Don’t let imposter syndrome win, instead take back control and start believing in yourself. It’s not always easy, but by following these tips you might just be able to see yourself in a truer light.

By recognising your accomplishments, not undermining yourself, seeking out support, and changing your self-talk you can combat imposter syndrome and build your confidence and self-esteem. Remember that you are capable and deserving of success, and with time and effort, you can overcome imposter syndrome and thrive in your career. It’s a journey, but you’re not alone in it.

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