I posted on Facebook about the Impostor Syndrome (IS) a while ago and was surprised that I couldn’t find any blogs of mine about it. To remedy that deficit, here’s an explanation of what IS is, how it impacts dysregulated eaters, and what to do about it.
According to “Feel like a fraud?” by Kirsten Weir (American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine, 11/13, http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx
, accessed 11/26//17), The Impostor Syndrome or Phenomenon is a form of “intellectual self-doubt” and is “generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.” As these three conditions are commonly seen in dysregulated eaters, it pays to learn how to stop feeling like a fraud and start believing in yourself to up your self-worth.
The term was first described by Suzanne Imes, PhD and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD in the 1970s. They found that high achievers were unable to assess themselves adequately and appreciate their success. Rather than attribute it to natural talent or hard work, they saw their accomplishments as due to good fortune or luck and lived in fear of being found a fraud. According to Imes, most people with IS suffer in silence and firmly believe that they are unworthy of success or praise. Does that describe you?
Individuals with IS often feel inadequate and insecure and overdo because they often don’t know when enough is enough. They over-prepare because they hope that doing more will prevent people from seeing that there is really nothing or very little to them. Overdoing leaves them stressed, but still feeling inadequate and anxious which can lead to eating to soothe internal distress. No surprise that they tend to be perfectionists, viewing life in terms of good or bad, success or failure, and all or nothing.
Imposter Syndrome develops by making an incorrect meaning of events that happened in your life, starting in childhood. If your parents accepted and praised you for nothing less than perfection, you might have come to believe that all your efforts must be perfection order to be worthwhile. If they kept raising the bar (say, every B on your report card had to rise to an A), you never learned what would satisfy you, and your achievements became associated with fear rather than pleasure (ie, Will I do well and get approval?).
Examine your beliefs and self-talk. Make sure they’re promoting feelings of success, accomplishment, and pride and that they encourage you, not others, to decide when enough is enough and when you’re satisfied with your success. Let fears and doubts go by and don’t attach to insecure thinking—and eventually it will stop haunting you.