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DrMorganLevy687 karma

How do you deal with patients that undergo imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is super common. I see imposter syndrome soooo much. It’s interesting because in my experience usually people who are considered conventionally successful experience it the most. Perfectionists might often view their accomplishments as just sheer luck and that they just happened to get to where they are and didn’t really earn it/deserve it based off their own merit. When I work with those individuals, I try to work with them on addressing the underlying low self-esteem and self-worth. We also work on self-confidence. Sometimes these feelings come from childhood and the belief that in order to be loved and accepted by others that they need to succeed and be perfect.

DrMorganLevy595 karma

School avoidance is so common and it so often gets misjudged as a child being defiant and just being a “difficult kid.” I would encourage students to tell someone how you are feeling. It’s so difficult open up, so I would suggest trying to find one adult that you can trust and feel safe with.

My number one piece of advice for teachers is to be open to the signs and listen when a student is struggling. Don’t immediately assume that they are just being defiant for the sake of being defiant. It’s also SO important for teachers and educators to talk about mental health and therapy so that it has less of a stigma in schools. Teachers should reach out to resources on campus (hopefully there are resources – I know many schools are short-staffed with mental health professionals).

To relate this to perfectionism, a lot of high school students are facing an increased amount of pressure to perform well and get straight A’s. I think teachers who encourage a well-rounded approach to life can make a huge impact. I notice a trend on focusing on performance rather than well-being and it’s unfortunate.

Here is a resource list for educators: https://apps.nasponline.org/search-results.aspx?q=school+refusal

Also, to all teachers, I seriously applaud you for all that you are doing – especially during this pandemic.

DrMorganLevy555 karma

If you could sum up the underlying thought or belief that a perfectionist needs to embrace, to go from desperately needing to be perfect... to embracing the imperfect reality of life for a happier existence.. what would it be?

That all we need is to be good enough, not perfect. :) It can feel very freeing to realize that you don't need to be perfect.

DrMorganLevy304 karma

Usually perfectionists have extremely high standards for themselves that are almost impossible to meet. This creates an endless cycle of feeling not good enough and consistent self-criticism which can then lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s also likely that because of these high standards – a perfectionist may feel a really strong need to control and they might be overconscientious. It’s also likely a perfectionist has certain “rules” and “shoulds” that they apply to their life, but they may not really know where these rules come from (in my approach to therapy we typically explore how these beliefs originated in childhood).

Not one perfectionist is the same or has the same life story – so therapy is likely to look slightly different for everyone. I’ll talk about the approach that I generally take (please keep in mind that this is just one approach – there are experts in other styles of therapy and I don’t want to pretend like I know them all! )

Usually, I will work with a client to understand how the perfectionism is impacting their life and to understand what they would like to change. We then dive deep to understand where the perfectionism comes from and what purpose it served for them when they first noticed it. Usually, this self-exploration and understanding helps create a perspective shift. We typically work to examine other possible explanations and perspectives that could be possible. One of my favorite mantras is that the goal is to be “good enough.” Perfection is unattainable (and in my opinion, doesn’t exist). I hope this answers your question!

DrMorganLevy288 karma

It can create some real difficulties when a perfectionist starts applying the standards that they hold for themselves to the people in their life. They might start acting irritable, critical, and maybe even lash out. It’s also likely that they resent the people in their lives who seem to not care about being perfect and are able to live a more carefree life.

Sometimes the perfectionism is a result of childhood trauma or childhood pressure which leads to feeling unsafe in relationships. This could lead to someone not feeling truly safe expressing their feelings to others and holding in/bottling up their feelings because some negative emotions may be considered “less than perfect.” This could create a barrier in communication and may prevent intimate and honest relationships. I've worked with a lot of individuals who crave realness in their relationships and they find that the pressure to always be "perfect" and to never look bad/fail really prevents that from happening.