Parental Imposter Syndrome: Understanding and Overcoming why you Feel like a Fraud
The saying “fake it ‘til you make it” is meant to inspire confidence in people, suggesting that they overcome any doubts they have concerning their own abilities by persisting in their attempts until they finally achieve the very goals they didn’t believe themselves capable of.
As earnest as its intentions may be, the unfortunate truth is that many people find themselves trapped in the “fake it” part, and can experience a great deal of stress and anxiety in the seemingly impossible journey to “make it.”
This problem can happen to anyone, though it’s especially common in women. No matter how much training they have or how many goals they accomplish, all they can see are their own weaknesses and failures. Their insecurities insist on highlighting every flaw, no matter how minor, causing them to dwell on even the smallest of mistakes and write off any successes as accidents.
This mentality is physically and mentally draining, occasionally leading to poor performance and self-fulfilling prophecies, which only exacerbate the situation. It’s bad enough when athletes struggle with feats they could usually carry out with ease, or when entrepreneurs have difficulty bringing their business goals to fruition, but when it happens to mothers responsible for tending to children, the stakes are especially high.
The fact of the matter is that parenthood is a herculean endeavor, and all the preparation in the world will still leave you feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for it. Be that as it may, you must come to accept that you are learning as you go, that you will occasionally make mistakes, but that you are capable of learning from them. It’s easier said than done, I know, but you need to know that no one is perfect, and accepting that will aid immensely in the recovery process. Having concerns is healthy and valid, questioning your own abilities and keeping an eye out for more effective methods is how we improve, but letting yourself be consumed by worry and indecision is dangerous for yourself and your children.
A good way to begin combatting your imposter syndrome is to avoid comparing yourself to those you believe have it all figured out. They may look practically perfect in every way, but I assure you, they are more than likely fighting intense battles you cannot see or imagine. Another useful tool is to keep a record of your successes to help you work through the pain of your mistakes, you mustn’t let your weaknesses or failures overshadow your strengths and accomplishments. Build a network of friends or colleagues you can talk to and vent your frustrations with, then be sure to listen to what they are going through and try to help one another when possible.
Above all, seek therapy or professional opinions if your problem gets too severe or debilitating, there is no shame in getting help. Granted, they may tell you things you don’t want to hear or offer advice you aren’t comfortable taking, but remember why you went to them in the first place.
It’s difficult to admit, and even more challenging to carry out, but if you really care about getting things right, then sometimes you need to accept that you’ve been doing things wrong.