Our shame filters reality and skews how our perceptions. A typical pattern is to project the negative and dismiss the positive. We filter reality to exclude the positive while magnifying the negative and our fears. We take things personally and overgeneralize something small to condemn ourselves and our potential. We use black and white, all-or-nothing thinking to rule out a middle ground and other possibilities and options. We believe I must be perfect and please everyone (impossible) or I’m a failure and no good. These thinking habits distort reality, lower our self-esteem, and can create anxiety and depression.
Many people with imposter syndrome are perfectionists. They set unrealistic, demanding goals for themselves and regard any failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness. Perfection is an illusion, and perfectionism is driven by shame and reinforces shame. The fear of failure or making mistakes can be paralyzing. This can lead to avoidance, giving up, and procrastination. Our inner critic interferes with our attempts to take risks, achieve, create, and learn. The disparity between reality and our expectations generates internal conflict, self-doubt, and fear of mistakes that cause suffering and serious symptoms. (To overcome perfectionism, do the exercises in the e-workbook: “I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism.)
We can overcome shame, low self-esteem, and perfectionism by changing our thoughts and behavior, healing our wounds, and developing self-compassion. Do the steps in Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.
© Darlene Lancer 2019
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Written by Darlene Lancer JD, MFT
Originally appeared on WhatIsCodependency.com
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