I’m going to describe to you a nightmare I’ve had:
I’m sitting at my desk when my boss arrives, brow furrowed in anger.
I’ve made a huge mistake on that thing I did last week for the mega-important client.
My heart sinks.
Oh, and they also took another look at every piece of work I’ve done over the past two years. It’s all garbage. I’m fired immediately, and tales of my incompetence will be sent to news offices around the country.
*Cue waking up in a cold sweat*
I bet others have experienced this feeling, especially those who – like me – are still in the first decade of their careers. It’s part of a condition called “imposter syndrome,” which the Harvard Business Review describes as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” Studies show that over 80% of people have reported feeling like an imposter at one time or another. Yet the condition itself goes even deeper.
5 Common Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome
- Fear of being outed as a fraud
- Dismissing awards or accomplishments: “I just got lucky”
- Distrust of positive feedback
- Perfectionism or over preparedness
And the worst part? All these mental patterns can work in concert, resulting in workplace anxiety, less risk-taking and stifled creativity. Thinking you’re bad, even when you’re not, can actually make you bad!
Luckily, there are some ways we can fight the vicious cycle of imposter syndrome.
5 Ways To Cope With Imposter Syndrome
- Celebrate success. Here at Flint, we shout out coworkers who live our values to the whole company.
- Say yes to new opportunities. Maybe you learn how to edit video or negotiate a contract. There’s no denying an accomplishment if you learn something new.
- See mistakes as lessons to grow. No one expects you to do things perfectly out of the gate.
- Using social media sparingly. Instagram, Facebook and all the others can suck you in and have you comparing yourself to others.
- Own the feeling. Talk about it. Whether it’s your coworkers, your mentor or friends of family members, it can be relieving just to know you’re not the only one feeling inadequate.
When it comes down to it, feelings of doubt can stop you from reaching your full potential. I think one of the biggest game changers for me has been to avoid the self-trash-talk. Lecturer and podcaster Brené Brown says, “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”
Can’t do it alone? Lean on others. If not with someone in your circle, then perhaps with a mental health professional.
Let’s say it all together now: