Imposter syndrome among busy professionals

Imposter syndrome 

I support professionals who share feeling like an imposter in their current jobs. Some explained that they didn’t feel like they deserved the job. In some cases, professionals were head-hunted for the job thus they are qualified and either met or exceeded the requirements for the position. In my experience, these individuals deserve to be working in their current field however some disclosed not feeling good enough. 

One professional woman, for example, explained she was hired for her current job but she feels like an imposter as she believes that she is not good enough for the position. We explored this feeling of her not being good enough in counselling sessions and it stems from her childhood. Whilst she was a grade A student, participating in extra-circular activities and doing her best to meet her mum’s expectations, she fell short. Unfortunately for this woman, despite her best efforts, she was unable to meet her mum’s standards and thus received the message that she was not good enough even though this is not true. 

Another professional woman shared doubting her capabilities in her current job and explained that she feels like an imposter as she believes that someone else in her position would do a better job. We explored some of her self-doubts in counselling sessions and her self-confidence. When her self-confidence and self-esteem were low, her self-doubts increased. Her harsh, inner critique surfaced in these moments which led to thoughts of her letting others down and her being a disappointment. Some of these thoughts and feelings were also present in her childhood thus building her self-confidence and self-esteem was one of her goals. 

Other professionals I support disclosed making minor mistakes at work which reinforced their sense of being an imposter and ruminating over this and their mistakes. Some worry that the mistakes they made reflected so poorly that they were most likely going to lose their job. Others want to avoid making any future mistakes and thus work twice as hard. This sometimes results in stress and anxiety both at work and at home. With these professionals, some of our work is shifting how we think about making a mistake and over time, learning to accept that it is okay to make a mistake. Other pieces consist of learning to be kind to ourselves when we make a mistake.

Some reminders for professionals who feel like an imposter:

1/ You were hired in your current position for a reason. You were interviewed and you met all the requirements thus, you deserve to work in your current position. 

2/ Making mistakes is part of the process, it is how we all learn and grow at work. One mistake does not define you or your work. 

3/ Be patient and kind to yourself as you transition into your new role. It may be new, challenging, and at times difficult but this will change as you become more familiar with and grow within your new role. 

4/ You are capable and good enough for the role. 

5/ Talking about how you feel may help you feel reassured and validated. There may be other people in your organisation who also felt like an imposter for example.

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