Boosting Confidence

Boosting Confidence

How many times have you doubted whether you’re up to the task at hand? Whether you have what it takes to make it in a new role? Whether you’re good for anything?  In its more serious form, a pattern of thinking that leads the person to doubt their skill, talent, accomplishments or adequacy to be in a certain role is known as Impostor Syndrome.

At its core, impostor syndrome is an internalised and rationalised form of self-doubt.  It is accompanied by constant fear that one is going to be discovered and identified as a fraud.  Most people in this situation find themselves thinking: “What gives me the right to be here?” It is often a situation experienced by high-achieving individuals who find it difficult to accept their abilities and successes, and difficult to attribute such success to their capabilities. Instead, positive circumstances are attributed to luck and other external factors, while the person believes that once luck runs out, others people would become aware of their inadequacy.

Moreover, there is also a tendency to sabotage their own successes by not believing in their own abilities and by putting too much pressure upon themselves.  Impostor syndrome is often accompanied by anxiety and depression. Because of the fear of being found out, it is very rare for people to talk about their experience with impostor syndrome, and they generally find it very hard to ask for help because of the nature of the thinking pattern.  It is therefore important for people to know what impostor syndrome really is at its core and how to combat it.

For some, doubt serve as motivation, but for others may result in procrastination due to the constant fear and anxiety. Impostor syndrome is often accompanied by a sense of perfectionism and the need to measure up to self-imposed impossible standards.  Individuals struggling with these feelings tend to be overly critical of their performance and themselves in general.

The person starts to believe that they need to work much harder to keep up with the standards they have set for themselves, which may result in feeling burnt out or over-worked. Affected people might experience the constant need to prove themselves, and hence become overachievers, which takes a toll on both the quality of their work and also on their mental, emotional and physical health.

Because the goals set are often challenging and unattainable, there may be a sense of disappointment when these are not reached, hence perpetuating feelings of inadequacy and fear. These feelings flare up when the person feels challenged in completing a task and struggles to live up to expectations, be it their own or perceived external expectations. The person may also feel alone, as they believe that they have to accomplish everything on their own with no support.

Even when experiencing successes, the same thinking and behaviour seem to be reinforced due to the fact that success can’t be internalised. Imposter syndrome can really stifle growth and limit opportunities in all areas, such as academic, work-related, relationships or personal life

Although it may sound perplexing and exhausting, there are ways to deal with impostor syndrome. Acknowledging thoughts and feelings of inadequacy and fear and put them into perspective is a good place to start. Talking to mentors and supportive people for encouragement and validation could also help to challenge feelings of insecurity.  Making a conscious choice to appreciate  your own expertise, progress, ability to impart knowledge, and ability to practically employ what you know would help counter the feeling of inadequacy.

It could be helpful to list and evaluate strengths, and areas for improvement – having a visual reminder of the real perspective could help to bolster confidence and set realistic goals. A pertinent goal of this process is to realise that perfection is an unattainable ideal; Instead appreciate the value in your own work. Reframe your thoughts about behavior and successes into positive and constructive thoughts. And most importantly, do not compare yourself to others.

Each person is unique, making their very particular contribution to our community, and we’re all doing the best we can.

This article was written by Celine Baldacchino, Mental Health Recovery Officer, Richmond Foundation.

Boosting Confidence

How many times have you doubted whether you’re up to the task at hand? Whether you have what it takes to make it in a new role? Whether you’re good for anything?  In its more serious form, a pattern of thinking that leads the person to doubt their skill, talent,...

Early signs of burnout

What is burnout and how do we deal with it? You wake up in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, feeling exhausted.  Throughout the day you constantly feel this strong need to rest, to sleep even.  Your productivity is low, but you can’t find the strength to keep...
Early signs of burnout

Early signs of burnout

What is burnout and how do we deal with it?

You wake up in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, feeling exhausted.  Throughout the day you constantly feel this strong need to rest, to sleep even.  Your productivity is low, but you can’t find the strength to keep up.  Your breathing feels heavy and it feels like you’re pushing yourself around.  You might be experiencing burnout.

Burnout can perhaps be described as feeling drained, like you’re constantly running on a low battery. It may result from enduring stressful situations such as relational conflict, illnesses, stress at work or an influx of bad news.  It is the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that arises as a result of experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time.  This state of exhaustion makes it hard to cope with daily life and affects various aspects of one’s life.  These may include relationships with family, intimate relationships, friendships, career and work life, and often detracts from the quality of life.

How do I recognise if I’m burnt out?

Burnout has several effects that may get in the way of going about your normal day-to-day.  It may leave you feeling empty, unmotivated and consumed by dread. Responsibilities previously carried without issues start feeling heavier, whilst frustration and cynicism increase. You might be struggling to take initiative and feel low on energy.  Burnout can also present physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches and generally getting sick more often.

People who are experiencing burnout often feel that they are unable to cope.  Daily activities that may be affected include work performance, caring for family, relating to others, and tasks that require creativity and concentration.  If unaddressed, burnout may give rise to more serious issues such as depression, anxiety and heart related complications.

What leads to burnout?

Excessive pressure and unreasonable time frames at work may be demotivating, while lack of communication or little support may make you feel alone.  Demanding schedules and workloads eventually become too much to maintain, and real or perceived unfair treatment permeates a feeling of injustice. Caregivers can also experience burnout, and often feel guilty for not being able to do or give more to their loved one.

Burnout happens in five stages:

  • The honeymoon phase – be it a new job, a new task, a new relationship or friendship, we often experience a high in terms of energy and satisfaction and commitment. This phase is characterized by initial stressors.
  • Onset of stress – this is when one becomes aware of the stress they are experiencing and start to experience fatigue and decreased energy, focus, productivity and satisfaction.
  • Chronic stress – stress becomes more frequent and more intensely felt. Motivation decreases and irritability and fatigue persist.
  • Burnout – symptoms become very evident and daily functioning is clearly impaired. The person reaches their limits and coping becomes very difficult.
  • Habitual burnout – symptoms of burnout persist and affect other aspects of life.

What can I do?

Preventing and treating burnout is vital.  Accepting that we need help and asking for it is crucial. If at the workplace, try discussing specific concerns with your superior. Reach out to your friends or loved ones. If your work offers an employee assistance programme, make use of it to speak to a professional. Exercise is a good source of emotional and physical health boosts and good sleeping habits ensure that our body has time to rest and recharge.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to face rough times alone. Help and support are available – go ahead, take the first step and reach out.

 

This article was written by Celine Baldacchino, Mental Health Recovery Officer, Richmond Foundation.

 

Boosting Confidence

How many times have you doubted whether you’re up to the task at hand? Whether you have what it takes to make it in a new role? Whether you’re good for anything?  In its more serious form, a pattern of thinking that leads the person to doubt their skill, talent,...

Early signs of burnout

What is burnout and how do we deal with it? You wake up in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, feeling exhausted.  Throughout the day you constantly feel this strong need to rest, to sleep even.  Your productivity is low, but you can’t find the strength to keep...