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Shut Down Negative Self Talk at Work

There’s a lot to be said for having confidence in the workplace, but it isn’t always easy to come by. Unfortunately, that little voice in our heads likes to spew negative and limiting beliefs about ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, these subconscious thoughts can prevent us from reaching our full potential in our careers.


Here are a few of the lies your brain tells you that could be holding you back in the office.


“I can’t do this.”

Professionally, there will be plenty of new tasks and challenges that will force you to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s natural to doubt yourself a little bit when you’re attempting to tackle something that’s foreign to you.


However, it’s important you push through and don’t give in to imposter syndrome. You must gather your courage and give it a whirl—because you don’t want your own negative (and false) mindset to be what prevents you from trying new things.


Need some reassurance before you take that leap? Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen. Chances are, it’s nothing nearly as bad as you think in your moments of doubt.


“Everybody here is better than me.”

Maybe you’re the newbie in the office, or perhaps you’re the youngest employee at your company. Regardless of your circumstances, there’s no point in obsessing over everybody else’s experience and talents—or your perceived lack of your own.


You’re in your position for a reason. You have a special set of skills and bring significant value to the table. So, don’t fall into the trap of constantly matching yourself up against others. That comparison game won’t get you anywhere that you want to be.


“This is how I’ve always done it.”

These are some of the most dangerous words in business—and for good reason. While there’s quite a bit of good that can come from having a reliable routine, you don’t want to be so stuck in your ways that you’re never willing to make any adjustments.


Perhaps you need to change your approach to a monthly project now that your company switched software. Or maybe you need to move a standard meeting time to better accommodate everybody’s schedule.


This is real life, and things come up. You must be willing to adapt to change when necessary. Your work life is flexible, so your approach needs to be as well.


“I don’t want to fail.”

First things first, nobody enjoys failure. But if you let your fear of failure or rejection keep you from stretching and challenging yourself? That’s a surefire way to keep yourself stuck in the safe little box that comes along with a career rut.


Failure will never be exciting or something that you look forward to. Even if you do end up missing the mark, at least you put yourself out there and took a shot. The best bosses allow their employees room to fail, and to fix their own mistakes. This is how we become better at our jobs. Rather than focusing on failure, focus on what you did to recover from it and the results you achieved.


“I hate this.”

I’m all for dreaming big. If that means you’re planning on eventually bidding adieu to your current job and trying something else, more power to you. You’re working toward a goal, and that’s great.


But it’s important that you keep your attitude in check in the meantime. If your thoughts are consumed by how much you hate your job, your co-workers, or your entire industry, you’re never going to be able to be your best self in the office.


Remember, your reputation is one of the most important things you have. Fostering a personality as your company’s resident sourpuss will only hurt you in the end.


We all experience a certain amount of self-doubt—especially when it comes to our careers. The important thing to remember is to keep those limiting beliefs in check and recognize when they’re getting in your own way. Once you’re aware of your negative self talk, you can take steps to turn it around!


Last Updated: March 27, 2017
About the author

    Alexandra Hoeflicker

    Alex is a Tucson-raised, Austin-based brunch aficionado. She enjoys a solid cup of coffee and browsing used record stores.