Social media is bursting with #girlbosses, #powerfulwomen, and #badassbabes. A historic 102 women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Indeed, it feels like women are on the rise! We are unstoppable!
There is certainly a lot to be excited about. However, women still represent less than 25% of the total number of elected officials in Congress (not to be a Debbie Downer or anything). As Barnard College president Sian Beilock points out in the Harvard Business Review, we’re making slow and steady progress on gender equality in the workplace—emphasis on slow.
Unfortunately, still-rampant gender discrimination leaves many women suffering from self-doubt. This self-doubt only perpetuates more professional setbacks, further continuing the cycle. But luckily, these crises of confidence don’t have to be crippling.
There are plenty of science-backed methods for combating negative feelings so that you can focus on success and pull up your fellow females with you.
1. Find (Or Become) A Mentor
Women who are exposed to powerful female role models are more likely to believe that women belong in leadership roles, according to this 2004 study. So, if you’re a junior-level employee, finding a mentor might increase your chances of landing a C-level position. And if you’re more experienced, you’ll be doing womankind a solid if you initiate a mentor relationship with a less-experienced colleague.
2. Write It Down
Research shows that journaling makes you feel better about whatever problems you may be grappling with. There’s even a book to help you get started if writing isn’t typically your thing. And hey, it’s 2019—if you don’t want to put pen to paper, you don’t have to. Just use your phone, tablet, or laptop instead.
3. Nevermind The Imposter Syndrome
Research shows that feeling like a fraud does not preclude success. In other words, self-doubt is often not crippling at all, and keeping that in mind can help you move forward when you feel like crawling inside a hole. Even celebs like Mayim Bialik suffer from this misleading syndrome.
4. Reboot Your Brain
As this research paper puts it, a “break in the attentive activity” might be what you need for a breakthrough. Take a walk, read something completely unrelated to your problem, or call a friend for a check-in. When you go back to the task you were stuck on, you might find that a solution comes seemingly out of the blue.
5. Reframe Setbacks
A 2008 study looking at swimmers who failed to qualify for the Olympics found that those who were encouraged to watch replays of their performance, study what went wrong, and plan for a better performance next time felt optimistic about their future competitions. Conversely, those without such prompting felt a sense of futility after watching the footage.
So, if you come up against something that sucks (a bad review, sub-par presentation, weird interaction with a colleague, etc.), think about (but don’t dwell on) what happened, and imagine what you’ll do differently next time.