You’re a Fake: Impostor Syndrome and What You Can Do About It

You’re a Fake: Impostor Syndrome and What You Can Do About It

If you struggle with feeling like you’re a fake,  feeling less worthy than other people or criticizing yourself for mistakes, you may be feeling what is called impostor syndrome.

Maybe you’re familiar with the anxiety that shows up when you start to wonder how long it will take before someone “catches on to you”. You can’t help but feel like you “have them all fooled”, but are convinced that before long someone will realize that you are not as competent as they had believed.

If this has been your experience, you are not alone. An estimated 70% of people struggle with this at some point in their lives according to this article in the International Journal of Behavioural Science.


Impostor syndrome, is not really a syndrome or a medical diagnosis, but you’ve likely heard of this phenomena.  These painful thoughts and emotions often lead people strive for perfection, set unrealistic goals and feel paralyzed by negative judgements and self-doubt. 

It was initially defined by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s.  Through this work, Clance noticed that struggling with profound feelings of self-doubt  can lead to anxiety and low self-confidence. 

In a more recent book, Unlocking Your Authentic Self, the author Jennifer Hunt, notes that “people with impostor syndrome under value and under appreciate their own skills and talents”  

Women (and men!) who struggle with impostor syndrome may feel like they are always wearing a mask and hiding their more authentic selves. 

Valerie Young, author of “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women” notes that people who struggle with impostor syndrome can have trouble putting their thoughts and feelings into perspective.  They magnifying their view of  themselves and their mistakes and fail to recognizing that others make them, too. 

To make things worse, people who struggle this kind on negative self-judgement will also attribute often their successes to luck or other factors beyond their control.

Talk about a no win situation!

In her work with people struggling with impostor syndrome, Young created a ‘rule book’,  helping people to identify the unconscious rules in their mind that they hold themselves to in order to feel competent. These rules tend to begin with “should,” “always,” or “never.”

Which of these ‘rules’ do you identify with?


Doing it all Perfectionism Impostor Syndrome Bedford Halifax Counselling
perfectionist impostor syndrome Counselling  Bedford Halifax Nova Scotia
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These rigid rules and fixed ways of responding can keep us stuck in unworkable, draining behaviours.  These behaviours persist, because in the short term they serve a function; perhaps they decrease our anxiety or silence our inner critic.  However, in the long term they lead us to increased emotional pain and exhaustion.

Wonder if you are experiencing Impostor Syndrome?  ,

Take the quiz here .


Feelings of never being good enough and not measuring up not only impact the workplace, but can spill over in to your relationships and home life.  A 2019 study published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that employees who experience persistent thoughts of feeling like a fake were emotionally drained and struggled to maintain family and work demands, even though they were highly accomplished individuals.  

This is because it is emotionally exhausting and discouraging to feel stuck struggling to measure up.  rapped in this way of thinking and judging yourself,ese unworkable ways of responding, you can easily become exhausted, discouraged and stuck.  There is evidence pointing to a connection between impostor syndrome and burnout, and in my work with women at my counselling practice, I see this happening for many women; from stay-at-home moms to all kinds of professions .  

1)Notice how you feel  

According to Dr. Jennifer Hunt, people that struggle with impostor syndrome may have a harder time with emotion regulation.  She states that people internalize their emotions and believe them to be 100% true rather than recognizing them as temporary and changeable.  They may be prone to holding onto thoughts and feelings from the past, overthinking, forecasting into the future.  

This reminds me of ‘The Sushi Train’ metaphor by Russ Harris. 

The better we get a noticing our emotions, naming them and allowing them to come and go in their own good time, the less emotional energy we expend on trying to fix or get rid and the less impact they have on us. 

Try: Keeping a journal to help you connect your thoughts, emotions, body sensations and how you have been coping with them.  Here is a journalling page to get you started.

2)Notice your Inner Critic

When was the last time you heard from your inner critic? You know, that voice in your head that constantly judges you, puts you down and compares you to others. The one that tells you you’re not good enough or smart enough and says things you would never dream of saying to another person.

Now you may think this inner critic, while annoying, is relatively harmless. But this is simply not the case. This inner critical voice limits you and stops you from living the life you truly desire. It hinders your emotional well-being and, if left unchecked, can even lead to depression or anxiety.

Here are some ways you can silence that inner critic and stop beating yourself up.

Give it Attention

That’s right, in order to gain control over your inner critic you have to know that it exists. Most of our thinking is automatic. In other words, we don’t give our thoughts much thought. We barely notice a critical thought has passed. Give attention to your thoughts, all of them. This will help you recognize the critical voice.

Here are some emotional clues the critic has reared its ugly head: whenever you feel doubt, guilt, shame, and worthlessness. These are almost always signs of the critic at work.

Separate Yourself from Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic is like a parasite, feeding off you. You were not born with this parasite but acquired it along the way. Your inner critic hopes it can hide and blend in, and that you’ll think ITS thoughts are your own.

You have to separate yourself from this parasite. One way to do that is to give your critic a name. Have fun with this naming. You could call your inner critic anything from “Todd” to “Miss. Annoying Loudmouth.” It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you learn to separate it from your authentic self.

4) Face the REAL Reality

Are you someone that generalizes your self-criticisms? By that I mean, do you make generalities about yourself such as, “I’m an idiot,” when you make a mistake? The truth is, we all make mistakes from time-to-time, and this mistake does not make you an idiot.  The sum of who you are is greater than this mistake. 

If you’re going to work on stepping out from the grip of impostor syndrome, you need to first recognize that you might be keeping yourself stuck with these generalities.

To see this more clearly, make a list of 10 of your strengths and 10 weaknesses.

When you’re done making this list, ask yourself if any of these things are true about you 100% of the time.  I bet not.  Remind yourself that these are behaviours you can choose to engage in (or not) but they don’t define you.  That way, you can choose to respond more flexibly rather than out of these generalities. 

4) Practice self-compassion

If you want to defeat an enemy, you need to have a powerful ally on your side. It’s important at this juncture to create an even more powerful inner voice. One that is on your side and acts as your BFF.

To create this new voice,  respond to yourself the way you would to a good friend or someone you love very much.  Acknowledge that this is a difficult moment and that it is painful.  Offer yourself some kind, encouraging words.

Life is short. To have the most fulfilling one possible, we have to stop wasting time on beating ourselves up.

To learn more about self compassion, check out some of my other blogs on the topic.

How To Practice Self Compassion

Why Being Kinder To Yourself Matters


If you are struggling with impostor syndrome, anxiety or self doubt and need support and guidance, don ‘t hesitate to reach out.  I offer free 15 minute consultation appointments so we can make sure we’ll be a good fit.  All of my appointments are being done online through a secure video platform or by phone for people who live anywhere in Nova Scotia.

Do New Moms Struggle with Low Self-Esteem?

Do New Moms Struggle with Low Self-Esteem?

Having a child is incredible – it also comes with mood swings and psychological changes

If you’re a new mother who has been experiencing low self-esteem, you’re not alone. A group of researchers recently took a look at why new moms and low self-esteem are common, along with dissatisfaction with their romantic relationships.

Analyzing data from over 80,000 Norwegian mothers, the researchers uncovered some significant patterns that represented how pregnancy and motherhood changes a woman’s attitude about herself and her partner.

The Self-Esteem Roller Coaster Ride

The study found that women’s self-esteem comes and goes. During pregnancy, a woman may experience a dip in her self-esteem. However, once the baby is born, her self-esteem begins to rise again. But only for a short time, then it dips again, only this time the dip is more gradual but prolonged.

Relationships Take a Hit as Well

New mothers don’t seem to be excited by their romantic relationships either! The researchers found that during pregnancy, first-time mothers tend to be very satisfied with their romantic relationships. However, once the baby is born, these same mothers experience a gradual decline in relationship satisfaction over the next few years.

The pattern is fairly similar for mothers having their second, third or fourth child. Though a bit less pronounced than new mothers, experienced moms gradually become less and less satisfied with their relationships once the baby is born.

The biggest takeaway from the study is that self-esteem and relationship satisfaction are definitely linked. While the researchers did not uncover exact mechanisms for these mental health changes, we can safely surmise a fluctuation in hormones and a big lack of quality sleep most likely contribute.

Having said that, motherhood is hard enough without having to battle low self-esteem and relationship dissatisfaction. Here are some things you can do:

Have Realistic Expectations

New mothers have an idea of what motherhood will be like, Sadly, they’ve gotten this idea from Hollywood and Madison Avenue. The reality is, motherhood is not one big bouquet of flowers. In fact, at the very beginning, all you may really notice are the big, prickly thorns. Later, once the baby sleeps through the night and stops waking you every two hours, you may notice how lovely the roses smell.

All of this is to say you have got to have realistic expectations. Breastfeeding may not come naturally to you – and that’s okay. You may not like your baby at first – and that’s okay. You may not feel like you know what you’re doing most of the time – and that’s okay. In fact, all of these things are perfectly normal.

Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself as a mother will only cause your self-esteem to take a nosedive. Don’t try and be the perfect mother, they don’t exist (sorry Mom). Just try and do your best and enjoy the experience as best you can.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Mothers

Nothing pokes at our self-esteem quite like unfair comparisons. If you’re a brand-spanking-new mother, it is hardly fair to compare yourself to someone who’s been doing it awhile. So what if your sister, who’s on her third child, makes motherhood seem like a breeze AND bakes her own scones? She’s had time to practice, you haven’t.

While it’s fine to seek advice from other moms, never make comparisons or you’ll just set yourself up to feel badly about your own mothering abilities.

Consider Couples Counseling

If your relationship has taken a hit, it’s important that you and your partner try and reconnect. This is sometimes easier said than done, which is why seeking the guidance of a therapist is often the best way to heal the relationship.

A therapist can help the two of you communicate respectfully and effectively, something that’s not always easy when you’re both averaging 3 hours of sleep per night!

If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

3 Reasons to Stay Single (At Least For a While) After a Breakup

3 Reasons to Stay Single (At Least For a While) After a Breakup

“Try, try again…”

“Dust yourself off and start all over again…”

“Get right back on that horse…”

These are just some of the common phrases we use to support the idea that trying something after it didn’t go so well the first time is a good idea. And in many instances, this is the right attitude. But there is something to be said about taking a break after a breakup.

When you’ve ended a difficult marriage or relationship, you may feel like putting yourself back out there and start dating again. But here are some reasons why it’s best to stay single for a while:


You Need to Process

The longer and bigger the relationship, the more events and feelings you’ll need to process. Dating is a great distraction from your feelings, and that is exactly why you need to remain single for a while. It’s important to process all of your feelings regarding the relationship and the breakup. Ignoring your feelings will only cause them to fester.


You Need to Learn

Every heartbreak in life is an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. Now is the time for you to think about what went wrong in the relationship and why? What was your part in it? What could you have done better? How will you choose your next partner based on your experiences?

Failure to truly understand your relationship history will only cause you to make the same exact mistakes.


You Need to Grow

You can either bring an excessive amount of emotional baggage to your next relationship, or you can bring a new version of you that is whole and healthy and vital. Now is the time to nurture yourself and your passions. What hobbies have you been ignoring because of your broken relationship? Have you been wanting to take a night class? Learn a new language or travel more? The more time you spend on yourself now to grow as a human being, the more you will have to offer that next Mr. or Mrs. Right.


Breakups are never easy, but they are often a part of life. The key is to not rush into the next relationship but take some time to reflect on the one that just ended. What can you learn and how can you grow?

Five Polite Ways for Introverts to Leave a Party Early

Five Polite Ways for Introverts to Leave a Party Early

Most people who are introverted have no desire to attend a party. For introverts, parties are torturous social affairs, putting you far out of your comfort zone and forcing you to interact with strangers. Unfortunately for the introvert, there are moments in life when you absolutely must attend a party. If for you, the best thing about a party is leaving it, here are five ways to make a quick exit.

1. Tell The Host in Advance

One polite way to leave a party early is to make your excuse ahead of time. When you reply to accept the invitation, let the host know that you have to leave early because of another commitment. If it’s a less formal affair, you can let the host know when you arrive that you have to leave early. That way when it’s time to go, they won’t be surprised.

2. Take a Bathroom Break

Using a bathroom break as a method of escape is most handy for sit-down or small parties. Excuse yourself to use the bathroom; when you come out of the bathroom, grab your coat and/or purse and make your way to the host, thanking them for a lovely time.

3. The Early Morning

The tried and true “early morning” is the perfect excuse to leave a party. “I’m sorry I have to go, I have an early morning tomorrow.” Everyone understands having to hit the hay a bit earlier because of an early morning commitment.

4. Sudden Sickness

Alcohol at the party is a convenient scapegoat for your early departure. Let the host know you drank too much, or that the alcohol didn’t hit you well, so you have to head home.

5. Blame the Sitter

Letting your hosts know you have to get home to relieve your baby or pet sitter is a no-fail way to leave a party early.


Whatever method of escape you choose, when it’s time to duck out, make sure you take the time to find your host and thank them for inviting you. Be sure to let them know they were a great host by complimenting the food or saying how much fun you had, so they don’t interpret your exit as their party being a dud.

If you’re an introvert and are looking for support and guidance in overcoming shyness or handling social situations, a mental health professional can help. Call my office today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.

My Favourite Things – June 2019

My Favourite Things – June 2019

One thing that people often tell me when they come to my Bedford Counselling Office is that they worry that I am sitting in my therapist chair looking down on them, judging them for their failures or shortcomings.  

It’s understandable that you might feel that way.  It makes perfect sense to me, that as you open up to a stranger, you might wonder that kind of a thing.   I hope that by giving you some glimpses into my life, that I might seem more human and that it might help us build a better working relationship, should you decide to see me for counselling.

I love the metaphor that Russ Harris-acclaimed ACT therapist and trainer- uses to describe the perspective he has as a helper.

What’s it like is, you’re climbing your mountain over there and I am climbing my mountain over here.

From where I am on my mountain I can see stuff on your mountain that you can’t see. For example, I might be able to see an alternative pathway that’s easier, or you’re using your pickaxe incorrectly, or there’s an avalanche about to happen.

But I’d hate you to think that I’m sitting on the top of my mountain, no problems, no issues, just sitting back and enjoying life.

I’m climbing my own mountain, over here. And we’re all climbing our mountain till the day we die. But what we can learn to do here is to climb more effectively, climb more efficiently; learn how to enjoy the climbing.

These words resonate with me. I approach my work counselling women and couples in Bedford, NS, with the perspective of a guide.  I am here to help you as you climb this tough stretch of mountain you’re on.  I can equip you with some of the skills and tools you need. I can loan you some hope when things seem impossible, that you’ll get through this tough place.

So in the spirit of  us both being on a journey, once a month I want to use this blog to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned or that have been impactful for me.  It’s my hope they’ll be helpful for you too.

What I’m listening to 

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately with the launch of this new website. I read this interesting article, Music That Focuses the Brain, and it talked about how certain types of music increase your concentration. I didn’t get around to testing out Mozart yet, but this music by Piano Guys has been amazing. If you need to concentrate, try it out and see if it helps your focus. You can even take a mindfulness break and listen to the melody with intention for a couple of minutes and every time your mind tries to pull you away, turn back to the melody and your breath.

What I’m Reading

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love books.  I love the feeling of picking up a paper back, sitting with a cup of coffee and reading a few pages.  But most often, these days, my ‘reading’ is Audible audiobooks being read to me while I drive my kiddos all over the place! 

I’m really digging into research and brain science on self-compassion this month. So, I was thrilled to find the audio version of a book I’ve been reading by Dr. Kristen Neff ‘Self-Compassion’

She talks about how high self esteem requires us to compare ourselves to others, and to feel like we measure up in order to feel good about ourselves. But, she’s got a great point! There is always going to be someone who is ‘more’ than we are. Always striving to measure up is an exhausting pursuit.

Self-Compassion, research and experts believe, is more effective for our well being because it does not depend on how we measure up in comparison to someone else. Self-Compassion is acknowledging that as humans we can all wind up in some disappointing and difficult places and responding to ourselves in those moments with the same kindness we’d extend to someone we love.

In her essay, Dr. Neff cites a survey with over 3,000 people that found self-compassion to be associated with much more stable feelings of self-worth (assessed 12 different times over an 8 month period) than self-esteem. This may be related to the fact that self-compassion was also found to be less contingent on things like physical attractiveness or successful performances than self-esteem.

Check out last week’s blog post on Why Self-Compassion Matters to find out more.

What I’m hooked on

A friend took me for coffee to The Nook in Bedford the other day. If you haven’t been there….you need to go! I love what they stand for as a company. It really appeals to my sense of compassion and empathy for others. They have awesome locally roasted coffee from North Mountain Roasters and I’m hooked on the peanut butter cups. I *may* have been back a few times since to indulge.


I just finished up writing my ‘7 Days to Live a More Purposeful Life‘  course. I think you should go check it out.

After all,  I think we all need to recalibrate from time to time.

If after checking out this blog post you find out more about what it would be like to come for counselling  in my Bedford office, or online if you live outside of Halifax (but still in Nova Scotia), you can book a free 15 minute consultation call online at or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to book an appointment.  I look forward to hearing from you.






Find out more about how we can work together. 

1600 Bedford Highway Suite 220, Bedford, NS B4A IE8, Canada I (902) 702-7722 I
Office Hours: Mon/Tu/Wed/ & Fri 2pm-9pm Thursday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-5pm
Reception Hours: Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm

As a private clinic, we’re unable to handle emergency situations. If you are in crisis, please call the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at 902-429-8167 / 1-888-429-8167 (Toll Free), 911 or attend your nearest emergency department.
Copyright 2021 © Restore. Renew. Revive | All Rights Reserved | Privacy & Terms | Website by Windrose Web Design

Why Being Kinder to Yourself Matters

Why Being Kinder to Yourself Matters

 Women often come to see me In my Bedford counselling office for help with improving self-esteem.  They tell me that they are so tired of feeling like failures and the sense that they will never measure up.  Often, they tell me that they have struggled with self-esteem for as long as they can remember. In fact,  if you google the term ‘women self-esteem counselling’ you’ll come up with nearly 72 million results.  This leads me to believe that the women I work with are not alone in this struggle. 

As women, we are often quick to criticize ourselves or beat ourselves up for our perceived failings.  We’ll talk to ourselves in ways that we never would to others.  We get accustomed to using our inner critic as some warped form of motivation.  And for a while it might work… until it doesn’t and you crumble under the crushing weight of feeling like you are never good enough and will never be able to get it right. 

This experience of feeling like we are not enough is a common human experience.  So common in fact, that it has led to countless books, blog posts and articles having been written in recent years about self esteem and how to improve it.  Self-Esteem has become a buzz word.

Kristin Neff, an author, professor and social researcher, has studied self-compassion and self-esteem and she notes that “the pursuit of high self-esteem has become a virtual religion, but research indicates this has serious downsides. Our culture has become so competitive we need to feel special and above average to just feel okay about ourselves (being called “average” is an insult)… And then, once you’ve gotten high self-esteem, how do you keep it? It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride: our sense of self-worth bounces around like a ping-pong ball, rising and falling in lock-step with our latest success or failure.”

And so it is not that as women we should settle for low self-esteem, but rather that we want our own ability to be kind to ourselves not to be dependent on our performance or being better than someone else.  We want to have the capacity to treat ourselves with kindness when life feels difficult or things are not coming together the way we hoped.  The alternative to the pursuit of improved self-esteem is self-compassion.  

While self-esteem causes us to stack our performance up against others around us and to appraise how we measure up compared to others, self-compassion is really the acceptance of who we are and what we are going through without being judgemental or harsh towards ourselves, knowing that life on this earth is full of hard stuff.

I love the metaphor that Russ Harris uses in his book ACT Made Simple (p. 203) “Suppose you are going through a really hard time in your life.  There are all sorts of problems and difficulties, and just about everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong.  Now as you’re going through this, what kind of friend would you like by your side?  

“Would you like the sort of friend who says ‘Ah, shut up.  Stop your whinging and whining.  I don’t want to hear about it.  What do you have to complain about…Suck it up and get on with it.'”

“Or would you like the sort of friend who says, ‘This is really rough.  What you are going through right now, anyone would be struggling.  I want you to know I am here for you.  I’ve got your back.  We’re in this together.  I’m with you ever step of the way.'”

I know which friend I’m picking.  You?

Neff has found that increased self-compassion carries all the benefits of self-esteem (happiness, less depression, etc.) but without any of the down sides (not sustainable and can lead to narcissistic qualities).   Social Researcher Brene Brown notes that self-compassion helps increase our likelihood of being more vulnerable and able to connect with others.  Here are some interesting clips of Kristen and Brene talking together about self -esteem and self-compassion 

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably curious about how you can begin to develop greater self-compassion.  

If you’re looking to do this work on your own, here are some resources that I encourage you to check out. 

1. Brene Brown has an amazing documentary on Netflix 

2. Kristen Neff’s book on Self-Compassion

3. Kristen Neff & Christopher Germer’s Workbook on Self-Compassion

3. Russ Harris’s book Called the Reality Slap which focus on self-compassion amidst grief and loss

Often as people are working to step out of their old ways of doing things, it is helpful for them to work 1:1 with a therapist who can really help them to apply new perspectives and new learning to their situation so that growth and transformation can occur.  

If after checking out this blog post you realize you’d like to talk to someone  how to use self-compassion to  change how you feel about yourself, let’s connect.  You can book a free 15 minute consultation call  online at or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to book an appointment. 

I look forward to hearing from you.





Find out more about how we can work together. 

1600 Bedford Highway Suite 220, Bedford, NS B4A IE8, Canada I (902) 702-7722 I
Office Hours: Mon/Tu/Wed/ & Fri 2pm-9pm Thursday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-5pm
Reception Hours: Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm

As a private clinic, we’re unable to handle emergency situations. If you are in crisis, please call the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at 902-429-8167 / 1-888-429-8167 (Toll Free), 911 or attend your nearest emergency department.
Copyright 2021 © Restore. Renew. Revive | All Rights Reserved | Privacy & Terms | Website by Windrose Web Design

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