How to deal with imposter syndrome



I have just started a new role and I have also just returned from maternity leave. It’s a bit of a double whammy in the anxiety stakes.

This is a role that I have been coveting for a while, but, as with any new role, it will take a while to really get into the swing of things.

New team members, new office, new work, new challenges. You know how it goes.

I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit like an imposter right now, especially as I am still running on no sleep thanks to my darling daughter.

The phrase ‘imposter syndrome’ was created by clinical psychologists Clance and Imes in the 1970s as a way of referring to high-achieving people who have a fear of being ‘found out’ or a feeling that they are a bit of a fraud at work. Their study confirmed that this feeling stays with a lot of us no matter how senior we may become so it’s not something that we grow out of. It’s also worth noting that we can be haunted by imposter syndrome throughout our careers, always looking over our shoulders to see if people think we are doing a good enough job and so it isn’t exclusive to a new role.

Although it’s a perfectly normal feeling, if we allow it, this so-called ‘imposter syndrome’ can hold us back from accepting our own worth, taking on challenges that we really should relish and perhaps most importantly, asking for help for fear others will see it as a sign of weakness.

What to do?

Well, in true blogging style I have come up with a few tips to help shut the door on imposter syndrome whether you are just returning from maternity leave or are starting a new project/role in the company:

Talk it through with someone

I have a mentor at work and I found it really useful to talk it through with her. I was surprised to find that even at a really senior level in the company, she too has had the same feelings. This really helped to place things into perspective.

Fake it until you make it

An element of bravado can help to begin with until you find your feet but…

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It isn’t a weakness, it is almost always the smart thing to do. The right people will help you and they will also likely remember how it felt to be the new member of the team.

Don’t overthink it

If you do slip up, don’t spend the rest of the day wallowing in your mistakes. Own it, learn from it, correct it and move on.

Just take a breath

If you feel like the anxiety is all getting too much or you are put on the spot then just stop. Take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. It will give you a chance to calm the ‘fight or flight’ reflex we all feel when under pressure. If you don’t know the answer or are unsure then it is ok to say as much.

Believe in yourself

Despite your reservations as to why you were hired – you were hired for a good reason. You are the right person for this job. That doesn’t mean it won’t take a few months to get up to speed. It will and that’s ok.

These six tips are universally useful.

What about you? How do you cope with the challenges a new role brings?

*Fi is a mum of two and founder and editor of , a UK parenting and lifestyle blog. With a career in digital communications and an award-winning blog, she also hopes to encourage and champion other women to pursue their own ambitions. 

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