From Self-Doubt to Self-Confident: Getting Over the Imposter Syndrome at the Workplace

acking self-confidence can have emotionally stressful and potentially debilitating consequences. However, this feeling is quite common among workers today. Suffering from the imposter syndrome at work is especially common for people who have only recently integrated a company or who have recently been promoted.

Imposter syndrome is generally categorized as a set of emotions conspiring to give you a heightened impression of inadequacy, of not belonging, or being completely ill-equipped to do the job you have been asked to do.

In this short article, we’ll take a look at some basic steps you can take to overcome imposter syndrome and get to a point where you feel you belong in the position you hold.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you are feeling heightened stress from your new job or new position at work, know that you are far from the only one going through this tough experience. The chances are more than high that one or more of your colleagues are also experiencing similar feelings at this very instant – at the very least, they have certainly experienced such feelings in the past. You should not hide your discomfort from your colleagues. On the contrary, they can prove to be an invaluable resource to help you cope and overcome.

Furthermore, being honest and opening up yourself to others is a tried and true method for ingratiating yourself to others. Also, when you ask other people for help, you are telling them that you value their opinion, that you trust them and respect them. Asking for help is a great way to make friends and allies in the workplace.

What You Should Expect When You Reach Out for Help

Sharing your problems or frustrations with others can be quite cathartic. It can help relieve some pent-up stress, and it lets those who are also going through or will go through a similar experience know that they are not alone in their troubles.

If you share your problems or frustrations with others, you also increase the chances of meeting someone who can offer a workable solution. However, when it pertains to imposter syndrome, this outcome is rare and should not be expected.

You are likely to receive sympathy and perhaps help in dealing with certain tasks that are especially trying, but when it comes to imposter syndrome, no one has a one-size-fits-all solution or any magical pill or “life hack” to make your problem go away.

Continual Training – Always Be Improving

It is quite understandable for someone new on the job to feel like they might be in over their head. The feeling can persist and can lead to imposter syndrome – when you feel like others have completely overestimated you and that you are not fit for the tasks you are being asked to do.

This feeling is unlikely to persist when you go into each day knowing that you will come out of it better equipped to do your job. By taking continual training courses you are essentially guaranteeing yourself that you will be better tomorrow than you are today. This certainty can turn imposter syndrome from an ongoing, seemingly never-ending phenomenon to one that is merely a temporary, passing phase.

Continual training can consist of a formal, organized program you go through while at work or can be a set time you dedicate to personal and/or professional improvement that you commit to doing outside of work hours.

While taking courses or undergoing training that is related to your work will also help to arm you with the skills you need to do your job better, any type of self-improvement will help to install in you a greater sense of confidence.

Change Your Perspective – Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

To a large extent, imposter syndrome is a perspective problem. The lows are blown all out of proportion while the highs are quickly disregarded. This is unhealthy and unsustainable. Instead, you should try to shift your perspective more into balance.

The Jar Technique

Keep a clear jar on your desk (or somewhere visible in your workspace). Every day, take a scrap of paper and write down an example of something you managed to accomplish that day. It can be as simple as helping out a colleague or solving a problem you’ve encountered before. Fold the scrap of paper and toss it in the jar.

After a few weeks, you will begin to see the jar fill up with little scraps of paper – which you know each represents an accomplishment or contribution you’ve made.

This exercise has two beneficial effects. Firstly, the simple act of writing down your accomplishments or contributions will help to shift your mindset away from focusing on the negative and will help you to think in a more positive fashion.

Secondly, the jar itself and the scraps of paper it contains serve as a constant visual reminder of your abilities and your value.

Unlike doing a thorough self-assessment to learn what you’re worth, the jar technique helps you to focus on the positive while creating a visual representation of your achievements for when self-doubt starts to creep in.

Look the Part – Dress for Success

The clothes we wear, the style of dress we choose for ourselves goes a long way to expressing how we feel about ourselves. It makes up a portion of our identity – or, at least, the identity we wish to project to others.

When we start to feel like we are not the person we thought we were, when we start to feel like we are not up to the task of handling the responsibilities we’ve taken on, our identity takes a huge hit.

One relatively simple step we can take to fight off these negative feelings is to pay extra attention to how we dress. We can at least look the part – fake it til you make it, as it were. Looking the part will, at least, help us to feel like we belong in the part. Dressing for success can have a significant positive impact on our self-confidence.

The Bottom Line

Experiencing feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt is by no means uncommon or unusual. Everybody goes through this at one point in their lives or other. These feelings can often spiral out of control and can lead to much more serious problems down the line, such as depression, apathy, and inaction.

What’s important is to recognize the signs and take immediate action to make sure these feelings are merely a phase and not a lasting burden weighing heavy on our shoulders and our hearts.

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