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To have a constant, fairly irrational fear of being fired

(17 Posts)
vulgarbunting Thu 03-Dec-15 22:51:51

I made a mistake at work this week. Not a huge one. Not one that will cost the company any money, but one that will cause some hassle to some people. I have always had good reviews and feedback, and work for a nice company that certainly wouldn't be the type to fire for a small mistake.

Despite this, I have spent today worried sick that I'm going to be fired. To the point that I took some valium which I am prescribed for flying to try and calm myself down, and I can't eat. I realised that I spend my life with the constant feeling that I'm doing a terrible job, that I'm worse than all my colleagues, and that I am on the brink of being fired.

Ok, IABU (I think), but does anyone else constantly feel like this at work?

Sometimes myself and my DH work from home together, and I am always astounded at his confidence when I hear him speak on the phone, and when he talks about his ability to do his job.

How do I get that?

southeastastra Thu 03-Dec-15 22:53:30

i always think success has alot to do with how you come across to others!

Can you not just explain that you have 'reflected' and learnt from the mistake and will change procedures etc to not let it happen again?

BestZebbie Thu 03-Dec-15 22:53:43

Perhaps CBT to address imposter syndrome?

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Thu 03-Dec-15 23:34:51

Me too OP. I have been considering going to the doctor about it.

I had my annual appraisal the other day. I was up all night the night before worrying about it and was convinced I was going to be told that after a year in the role I had done nothing of note and therefore would be demoted. Actually, I scored one below the top rating which was good.

But I still feel the same. My boss is great and has loads of confidence in me, just lets me get on with stuff and checks in every so often - I feel like I'm having a mini breakdown every week or so.

MoonlightandMusic Thu 03-Dec-15 23:44:44

Agree with Best it does sound a little like a fairly extreme version of impostor syndrome (basically where, despite praise from the company/doing the job well etc., you still keep thinking 'I'm not good enough and they're going to find out...').

It might help a little if you note down (could be an Outlook appointment with bullet points or similar) at least three things each day you've done well. Then read back the full list at the end of every couple of weeks. It will help to 'prove' to you that you are as good as the company thinks. As it goes on, you will start seeing patterns emerge (generally that yes, you are as good (or possibly even better) than the company thinks you are.

It is a horrible place to be, but it is possible to overcome (have been there and am now out the other side. grin)

GinBunny Fri 04-Dec-15 00:11:03

I'm with you too. Started a new job a couple of months ago, am in my probationary period and feel sick to my stomach in case I don't pass it. I hate feeling like this. I feel the same about DH's job. If ever he comes home having a bad day which is frequent I go into overtime about what would happen if he lost his job. At the moment I'm worrying about both of our job security and I can't sleep for it. I so envy people that breeze through life.

ilovesooty Fri 04-Dec-15 01:14:10

I'm with you too. I've been with my company for nearly 12 years and receive loads of positive feedback but every time I return from annual leave I don't sleep the night before as I worry they'll have discovered while I'm away that I can't do the job.
The good thing is that my managers know and they and I are able to talk about it.

ftmsoon Fri 04-Dec-15 07:23:31

vulgar I'm with you too. Since returning from mat leave, I feel like I'm crap at my job. I get no feedback apart from when things go wrong and always think the worst is going to happen when someone wants to talk to me. Even someone junior who could in no way have any control over my future! I'm terrified as DH is a SAHD and we would sink within days without my salary sad

Skiptonlass1 Fri 04-Dec-15 08:20:03

I feel like this.

Not helped by a change of line manager last year. I had always had great reviews from previous managers, been promoted, great feedback from my underlings and clients alike...
... Then I got a new boss based in the USA. Has no idea how European countries work, seri cultural awareness, zero people skills and I constantly feel like she's looking for something she can fire me for .

On the plus side, after worrying that it was me, the other people she manages confident hat they feel this way too.

It's so sad. I went from really liking my job to hating it, purely because of her.

NeitherQuietNorCalm Fri 04-Dec-15 08:46:02

Same here. Since coming back from maternity leave I've fallen to bits a bit. Not helped by going for a senior level job in my team and not getting it.

wasonthelist Fri 04-Dec-15 09:20:47

I have had this for about 30 years - sorry OP, not much consolation - although I have only come close once - and that was a bit of politics, not anything to do with my performance. That in itself taught me a lot.

I have a new boss's boss, also in the USA, who doesn't like my boss (who is US based). My boss is excellent at cultural awareness - his boss isn't and there's already been an outbreak of bullshit managementspeak. She got her 16 year old son to make us a motivational video featuring Kayne West - then she told us who he was. She is my age and I 100% guarantee I knew who Kanye was before she did. I am just waiting for the clash to come.

EBearhug Fri 04-Dec-15 09:25:08

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time - it's how you deal with it that counts.

If it's not something you can just fix - e.g. an error in some documentation - then I would be open with the people it would cause an issue for, to forewarn them, so they can plan to handle it when it does cause them hassle. I might not be totally open about it being my fault, more, "It's come to my attention that there's an issue with the month end reports. It's this (brief description), and you can get round it by doing (whatever). Apologies for the inconvenience; this shouldn't happen again next month."

Meanwhile, I agree with making notes of any good things you achieve - it's easy to forget those and focus only on the things you didn't do so well. Even those aren't necessarily bad, if you learnt from them. No one can expect to be an expert from the outset. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Preciousxbane Fri 04-Dec-15 09:38:51

My friend has actually been diagnosed with imposter syndrome and has had extensive counselling to help. We used to work together and got on very well as we were people from very humble backgrounds that did well surrounded by many Oxbridge folk. I didn't ever feel inferior but she did and the environment was a bit look down your nose. She was quite ashamed of her background though whereas I have always been of the opinion I managed this despite that upbringing.

I did make a bad mess of something once but it was something I did with my boss so as far as I was concerned it was just as much her fault as mine as a shared task. They actually changed a procedure because of that.

You need to find your root cause op.

flamingnoravera Fri 04-Dec-15 09:45:42

I have had this feeling throughout my career. It's almost disabling. I rarely sleep on Sunday evenings before work on monday and holidays are a nightmare because I worry the whole time that when I return I will be exposed as an imposter. It has got slightly better as I have got older and begun to care less about everything and I have reduced my efforts and the anxiety has dwindled somewhat.

Therapy might help.

wasonthelist Fri 04-Dec-15 09:48:51

OP (and others) I am sorry I didn't contribute much, but I wanted to thank you all. I'm almost in tears to know I am not alone. I work from home most of the time, which doesn't help. Thanks.

blueshoes Fri 04-Dec-15 09:50:04

I cannot really speak for imposter syndrome but as far as making a mistake at work is concerned, is not to be defensive, acknowledge, apologise and move on. As precious says, be part of the solution to rectify.

Try not to feel bad. Easier said than done.

vulgarbunting Fri 04-Dec-15 09:56:31

wasonthelist I work from home too. It is very lonely when you feel like things are going wrong, and everyone else apart from you has it together. I actually hate it.

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