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Doubting yourself? 10 common imposter feelings, and what to do next
We’ve scraped our own barrel of self-doubting inner-monologues, and it was painful. So we’ve added some tips to respond to the doubts.
Last updated24 Sep 2022
Reading time4 min
Some people talk to themselves in the mirror. Others do it while walking down the street. Almost all of us do it more than we think. And much of this self-talk is full of doubt and insecurity.
Here are 10 common concerns that many people have, along with tips to help you move forward.
1. “This isn’t near as good as it could be”
Everything can be better. Perfection is a myth that can drive us to greatness or drive us up the wall.
Tip: forget perfect
Being good at something doesn’t mean you always get it right, or that you have every answer, or that you don’t have bad days. Your team isn’t expecting you to be infallible—they’re expecting you to be positive, open, and ready to learn.
2. “They only said ‘nice job’ to be nice”
Many of us don’t realize the constant chatter going on in our heads. “You’re not good enough.” “You don’t belong here.” “He only said ‘nice job’ because he felt sorry for you.”
Tip: be aware of your own mind
Are you aware of the stories you tell yourself? Does your internal dialog match the external cues? Noticing your negative self-talk is a first step toward calming it.
3. “They’re so confident, and I don’t know what I’m doing”
You’ve got that feeling inside that says you aren’t cutting it. And your coworkers all look so confident. That is, from the outside.
Tip: don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides
You never know how someone else is really feeling. And guess what? Their insides likely don’t match their external façade. Stop comparing how you feel with how they look.
4. “I can’t believe I even got this job”
How many interviews did you go through to get this job? How many other people applied?
Tip: look at objective data
People aren’t hired out of sympathy. There’s a reason they picked you. Clearly, people think you're competent and want you on their team.
5. “I don’t do anything well”
We tend to remember our critiques much more than our praises. This is especially common amongst perfectionists who always see room for improvement.
Tip: start documenting
Create a doc where you screenshot and keep positive feedback. Having documented praise can help counter fraudulent feelings with concrete proof.
6. “Am I the only one who feels lost and unsure about this?”
Remember when you had that question in the classroom, but didn’t ask because you felt like you were the only one? So instead, it’s kept inside—eating away at you, like so many other people.
Tip: talk about it
Sometimes just sharing your feelings is enough to shed light on a solution. So talk to a trusted manager, mentor, friend, or colleague—someone who will listen to you non-judgmentally. It’s okay to ask for help.
7. “No one even notices me and the work I do”
You spend too much time at work not to be with people who respect and support each other.
Tip: surround yourself with good, caring people
You deserve it. Make sure your employer nurtures a culture where mental health matters—not just with words but with actions in practice.
Tip 2: we know a place where lots of talented, caring people work. If you value transparency, respect, and thoughtful feedback, check out our open roles.
8. “I’ve been doing this forever, and I still feel like a beginner”
Many high-achievers constantly compare up, judging their success against peers a step above them. This can motivate you to keep pushing, and it can also leave you in a constant state of ‘not good enough.’
Tip: mentor junior colleagues
Don’t overlook how far you’ve come. Sharing your expertise with those less experienced can help remind you of what you do know.
9. “I’m struggling because I don’t have the skills for this”
Often we interpret a temporary uncertainty as a general character flaw (review 3. and 5. above). But sometimes, we actually do need more training. That's okay!
Tip: get additional training
Even in your own areas of expertise, there is always something new to learn. Realizing that, and working to fill those gaps, is a big step that will take you far.
10. “I can’t do this anymore—I’m just not good enough”
Sometimes feelings of anxiety and self-deprecation persist over a long period of time. In this case, you may need to look for outside support.
Tip: get professional help
One of our very competent colleagues acknowledged that “when first starting at Hotjar, I had CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) for imposter syndrome because it completely floored me.” And fortunately, they're part of a culture that supports this with a €2,400/year well-being budget.
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