4 Tips For Professionals Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
If you’ve ever felt like a fraud in a room full of actual experts at work, you’re not alone. Imposter syndrome is a psychological experience wherein a person doubts their talents, skills, or expertise despite having proof of their competence or extensive familiarity in that particular area of their life. Sometimes referred to as “perceived fraudulence,” it’s more of a phenomenon and not exactly a mental health condition. Still, being unable to completely grasp their own competence can prompt people to feel like they don’t belong and constantly fear being exposed as a fraud.
Often, people who have imposter syndrome compensate for their perceived inadequacy by holding themselves to higher standards and working harder. Constantly pressuring yourself to achieve in an effort to counter self-doubt can then make you prone to excessive self-criticism and burnout, among other things. The good news is that it’s possible to break this cycle. Here are some of the things you can do to deal with your unwarranted self-doubt:
Take a Look at Your Capabilities and Give Yourself a Reality Check
When self-doubt at work sets in, convince yourself of your capabilities by taking a good, long look at what you’re capable of doing and why people are depending on you to do what you do best. Perhaps you’ve received excellent training from taking and completing SkillsFuture courses or your experience in your previous jobs made you a great match for the position you have now. If you’re new to this line of work, your employers likely understand that you’re coming from a place of inexperience and are giving you time to pick up new skills and knowledge.
At the same time, recognise that your feelings of inadequacy are unfounded. While you may feel this way from time to time, the fact is that you are likely doing well in your work. The reality is that you have the training, education and willingness to further improve your skills and capabilities. You’re giving your job your best effort, and the work that you do is well within the standards set for you by your employer.
Make a Habit of Acknowledging Your Progress and Accomplishments
It’s easy to get caught up in a negative thought loop. People who are having an episode of self-doubt can get trapped in the cycle of having negative perceptions about the quality of their work, over-exhausting themselves to compensate and then burning out and repeating the process all over again. You can disrupt this process by making a habit of recognising your progress and accomplishments, even the small ones. If you were able to meet all your deadlines with time to spare, that’s something worthy of a pat on the back, right?
If you’ve reached a milestone in the project or campaign you are managing, then you’ve inched closer to completing the assignment. Thinking of these successes as they happen, no matter how small they may be, can help you overcome the self-doubt you tend to feel.
Find a Supportive Group of People Who Understands Your Struggles
Being surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through can be both validating and empowering. It helps to have a team behind you that knows what it feels like to have episodes of self-doubt from time to time. If you feel comfortable sharing your concerns with other people, such as your colleagues or your boss, perhaps they can help you get a solid grounding when you have doubts about your capabilities.
For example, you can ask your boss to give you an honest review of the quality of your latest deliverables and if there are areas that can still be improved. This will help you determine which of your perceived shortcomings are actually based on fact and which are just amplified by your feelings of self-doubt.
Strive to Continuously Improve Your Knowledge of Your Field
Making an effort to continuously improve your skills and knowledge is a great way to counter your feelings of self-doubt. If you feel that what you know is not enough or is holding you back from performing well, why not take courses that will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments in your field?
Perhaps your company offers seminars that will help you build up your level of expertise and refresh your knowledge in your area of specialisation. Take this opportunity and use it to silence the feelings of self-doubt. Aside from furthering your knowledge, the fact that you can sign up for a class or seminar and keep up with the lessons is proof that you have a solid foundation in your area of expertise.
It can be a challenge to deal with impostor syndrome, but these tips should help you build your confidence in the workplace little by little. With the right tools, the right mindset and a supportive group of people, you can once again fully appreciate your level of competence and your contributions to your team and the company you are in.