"I Thought I Could": From Self-Doubt to Self-Efficacy

Adriana Kipper-Smith PhD, HSP
EAP Clinical Psychologist at Work/Life Connections

Impostor Syndrome (IS) is described as the struggle to accept one’s own success. Someone who experiences IS will think their success is undeserved, despite their effort and skills. While this syndrome can be experienced by anyone, it tends to become more intense and, at times, paralyzing, when it involves a more competitive environment, such as graduate school or medical school. So, how can we move from paralyzing self-doubt to grounded self-efficacy? By pressing pause.

We can press "pause" by observing, instead of engaging with, negative thoughts and words of self-doubt and making the effort to identify and nurture our strengths. We can press pause and recognize our hard work. In other words, by pressing pause, we are reframing our thoughts and regulating our emotions, which is called cognitive reframing or reappraisal.

This intentional act of pausing can be more complex than it sounds, however. It’s difficult to stop negative thoughts or even pause in the moment when we are busy. To help you start practicing pausing and cognitive reframing or reappraisal, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Be aware of your desire for perfection. Perfectionism includes setting high standards, being intolerant of mistakes, and procrastinating on a task that’s intimidating to you. Try to change your thoughts towards accepting failure, learning from mistakes, and feeling excited about new challenges, regardless of the outcome.
  • Don’t judge or think negatively about yourself. It’s normal when you have to work hard to master something. You are not an imposter! You are working towards a great goal that takes effort and that’s ok.
  • Seek help. Shame becomes less powerful when its story is shared. By talking through these thoughts and emotions, you can begin to identify and correct negative self-talk.
  • Remember, there is no such thing as wasted time. The only “wasted” time is time spent dreading something or thinking about a difficult task while working on something else. Speak encouraging words to yourself and begin the task with confidence.

Cognitive reframing or reappraisal has a positive impact on our well-being. Work/Life Connections-EAP can assist you in learning reframing or reappraisal skills, mindfulness, overcoming imposter syndrome, and other struggles you may face. To schedule a confidential appointment with a certified counselor, call 615-936-1327 today!