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Dear Dr. Rob: How Do I Eliminate Imposter Syndrome?

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Dear Dr. Rob: How Do I Eliminate Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is real. Not only does it make you feel like a phony, but it makes you feel like you’re going to get “caught” for being this so-called phony.

But regardless of if you have just recently started to feel like a phony – or if you have been feeling like a phony for a long time – you will continuously have to grapple with this phenomenon. And if you don’t master or overcome it now, it could have debilitating effects on your self-esteem, identity, and relationships with others over the long term.

When you feel like an imposter, the feeling of not being “good enough” will dominate your thoughts. And so too will the fear of being rejected if somebody finds out you are not supposed to be as successful as you are (or in the position that you’re in). As a consequence, you will continue to “compensate” by trying to be ever more successful just to prove to others (and yourself) that your accomplishments are not a fluke. Yet with each new shiny star you add to your resume, you still just can’t seem to shake this feeling that you’re about to be exposed as a big fat fake.

Even though you know you’re not a fake, it can still be difficult to convince yourself that you aren’t. But you can still do it. Here are a few helpful tips to overcome the imposter syndrome that might be weighing you down. 

  1. Embrace that “fitting in” is the enemy. When you understand that the desire to fit into a certain group that you crave to be a part of causes and perpetuates your own insecurities, you can begin to reject the idea that you “need to” fit in (through success or accolades). By rejecting this need to belong to a specific group, you will relieve yourself of the pressure that this group will make or break your identity, self-confidence, and self-worth. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t still pursue your goals and succeed within the context of this group; it just means that you are rejecting the idea that fitting in or being accepted by others is the goal (and purpose) of your life (or success). Fitting in is not the goal; being successful is and you can do that whether you fit in or not (even if not fitting in is a little more difficult to do). 
  1. Overcome the fear of failure and rejection. By fearing failure and rejection, you are really just fearing people’s fickle opinions about you. And as a result, you are trying desperately to prove to them that you matter. But even if you do prove to them you matter you might secretly believe that you don’t and so you will be keeping yourself in a straightjacket of fear that is deepening your imposter syndrome. To break this, you have to stop fearing failure and rejection and start accepting that fact that you will fail at times and be rejected by some but that this is not the end of the world (or as important as you think it is). Just be your best – that is all that matters.
  1. Embrace that you are “better than you think.” Because people – especially successful people- tend to judge themselves rather harshly, it can be difficult for them to get an accurate (or compassionate) perspective about themselves. So they see themselves as less capable and powerful than they truly are. This negative self-image worsens and worsens and, over time, becomes the default identity that fuels imposter syndrome. However, like with # 2, this can be overcome by simply starting to think better thoughts about yourself (you can do this by speaking or writing positive things about yourself, among other things).

Eliminating imposter syndrome will be a great challenge for you but you can successfully do it so long as you start re-calibrating how you think about yourself. Once you make a few adjustments, you can get rid of the feeling that you’re a phony because you most certainly are not. 

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” - is a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO whose mission is to entertain, empower, and uplift people and humanity.

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Dear Dr. Rob: Should I Ghost People?

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To ghost or not to ghost, that is the question.

On the one hand, ghosting somebody (especially if they are being annoying or disrespectful) is an easy way to shut them out of your life. After all, it requires almost no effort on your part, avoids confrontation, and is mentally and emotionally soothing. 

But on the other hand, ghosting somebody (even if they are being annoying or disrespectful) can stunt your personal growth and negatively impact your communication with others in the long run. But why? Because if you ghost somebody once (for a major or minor offense) it makes it easier to ghost somebody else and then somebody else and then somebody else. In other words, ghosting one person can create a pattern where you easily give up on communicating with multiple other people even if those other people haven’t done harmful things to you (ie, you end up ghosting these others just because you don’t “feel” like talking to them not because they have wronged you). 

We see this phenomenon often in (online) dating. For example, two people can be talking and then out of the blue one person stops talking and never gives a reason why (leaving the other person scratching their head). 

But this phenomenon of ghosting is also going beyond dating and is increasingly being transferred to friendships, certain types of work relationships, and all types of online communication. And it’s happening because people simply don’t feel like talking.

Yes, removing yourself from toxic people (or toxic communications) is something you should do. And yes, making sure people understand and respect your communication boundaries is important. But for many of the people who are ghosting others today, they are ghosting them without ever having a meaningful conversation with them about how to possibly improve the communication  that they believe is worthy of ghosting. And as a consequence, all sorts of confusion, resentment, and misunderstandings are happening simply because many people who ghost others have not yet developed the maturity, respect or empathy for others, or communication skills they need to truly engage with others on an adult level.

So if you are considering ghosting somebody please think long and hard about whether you are considering it because they are being toxic to you or because you simply don’t feel like talking to them. If it is for the latter reason, I’d highly encourage you to keep the communication open with them for their sake (and your own).

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Dear Dr. Rob: How Do I Heal From My Trauma?

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First off, I’m so sorry that you’ve had to experience trauma. As a trauma survivor myself, I know recovery can be difficult and painful. I understand that not only did you have to experience the original traumatic incident (or incidents), but that you have been left with the memory of that trauma which creates a whole different set of issues.

Nevertheless, please know that it is possible to overcome the trauma of your past as millions of people have and so can you. Here are a few helpful ways to begin your healing process:

  1. Acknowledge that you have trauma and that it can be overcome. The simple act of not only admitting you have pain but acknowledging that it can be overcome is cathartic. By giving yourself “permission” to overcome your pain (by believing you can), for example, you will get a needed mental and emotional boost as you work through the things weighing down your soul. By maximizing your hopefulness you can speed up your recovery as strange as that sounds. 
  1. Forgive the person/people who caused or contributed to your trauma. Although forgiveness can be incredibly difficult, it is an essential part of your healing. Even if the person/people who hurt you in the past never apologize, forgive them in your heart so you can move on emotionally. This might require you doing this more than once, however, so keep forgiving and forgiving until you feel “free” of unforgiveness, resentment, or grudges. Not only will this make you feel better, but it will also release healing chemicals into your body so that you do not let the people who hurt you in the past continue to hurt you.
  1. Listen to stories of successful overcomers. The simple act of hearing from people who not only went through what you went through, but who have successfully healed from it will give you hope that you can heal too. But be careful when doing this as it could further trigger your own trauma so you will want to do this when you’re feeling in the right frame of mind and, if possible, around supportive people who can help be there for you if you do get triggered. But listening to successful overcomers will give you the sense of, “hey, I can overcome too.”
  1. Practice “releasing techniques.” For example, you can “release” your trauma through journaling your feelings or even writing an objective letter to yourself for how to overcome what you’ve been through. You can even release your trauma by saying “trauma get out of my soul” similar to how athletes like Muhammad Ali would say “I am the greatest.” In other words, the more you release trauma from your mind and emotions through simple techniques the less power it will have over you.

Of course, these are only a few techniques you can use to overcome trauma. They were ones that have worked for me and ones that I’ve seen work for countless people around the world. Just know, though, that your trauma can be overcome and that you are not alone in this process. 

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Dear Dr. Rob: Do Celebrities Deserve To Be Bullied?

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Dear Dr. Rob: Do Celebrities Deserve To Be Bullied?

As I’ve written about before, fame is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it provides some benefits like better service at restaurants and various other social and financial perks. On the other hand, it can cause many who get it to become depressed and act out in other self-harming ways because of the unimaginable pressures.

But the question is, given all of their influence and money to afford therapy and other protections the everyday public is not privy to, should celebrities be immune from being bullied? After all, they signed up for it so don’t they deserve to be human punching bags if we say so? 

Although the modern celebrity often becomes a soulless object for society’s wish fulfillment and sometimes twisted protections, they don’t deserve to be bullied (as almost every celebrity will tell you they are – and often bullied by millions of people (have you ever heard of mean tweets?)). Nor do they deserve to be stalked, harassed, or turned into commodities from which to make money because they are people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just like everybody else. 

That said, that doesn’t mean celebrities should be above being criticized – or above being held accountable – but it does mean that we need to dramatically redesign our relationship with celebrities as a culture so that it is not as toxic and superficial. It means we should stop hiding behind our anonymous screens sending them malicious and vile messages; it means that we should stop playing voyeuristic games with their love and personal lives; and it means that we should stop exalting them to the status of gods so that we can then crucify them if they do not live up to the perfect images we have built of them in our ever-changing artificial social hierarchies.

In a nutshell, being a celebrity doesn’t make one immune from the right to privacy or immune from feeling the mental and emotional effects of millions of people who, at any given time, could be bullying them. As a society, we no longer need to view our celebrities as if they are in a Roman Gladiator-like coliseum waiting to conquer or be conquered; we should instead view them as regular people who happen to have a little more name recognition than others. If we do this- instead of treating them like objects- we will not only help them live a healthier existence, we will help ourselves (and our culture) live healthier existence too. 

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