Feeling like you’re not enough.
Knowing you’re a fraud – and it’s only a matter of time until everyone else knows it too.
Feeling afraid to put yourself out there because the more people who see you, the more chance there is you’ll be found out for the failure you really are.
How many of the decisions you make, each and every day, are the result of trying to hide how unworthy you are? What does life even look like without this?
And how much of the food you put in your mouth is an attempt to hide this truth even from yourself?
My journey to self-doubt
These aren’t questions I thought were relevant to me. Sure, I knew that a lot of my friends, clients, and loved ones often struggled with ‘imposter syndrome’, but I didn’t. I felt confident in my worth – my training – my ideas – my place in the world.
And here comes the ‘but…’
After moving countries, changing jobs, and starting a new qualification I started to experience a lot of anger towards people, places, and organizations when things I wanted to do didn’t go my way. Anger that didn’t make a lot of sense and felt frustrating and confusing. ‘Home’ became the place I wanted to be all the time – where no one could see me. I felt constantly ‘under siege’ and like every interaction I had was someone judging my abilities, my worth, or my acceptability. I started really craving comfort foods to escape into.
Though, I didn’t know it was about self-worth for months.
I was just like, “Why am I so angry? Why do I want to be alone all the time? Why am I so dissatisfied? Am I doing something wrong? Am I living incorrectly? Do I need more hobbies? Am I just a spoiled brat who needs a chill-pill? Do I need more self-care?…” You know, the usual mental roundabout when you think you’re not enough.
After a couple of month of this, I finally got a clue and was like “If one of your clients were going through this, what would you encourage them to think about – and what patterns would you see?”.
Talk about a light-bulb moment.
And yeah, my emotional eating was there, telling me that:
- Aw, you’ve had a stressful day – these cookies won’t judge you.
- Hey look, pasta thinks you’re very highly qualified.
- No, of course you don’t need any vegetables with your meals – the mashed potatoes know you’re one cool chick.
And then the total ‘truth bomb’ moment came when I was standing in the kitchen, reheating a frozen meal there is no way I would have eaten 6 months ago, and I suddenly thought,
“How much of your life has been about looking worthy to other people? And what the heck would it even look like if you stopped doing it and just trusted that you were?“
I cried in front of my pie.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. It has nothing to do with food – but I’m sure my eating will change as I do.
If this post has resonated with you, or if people pleasing, self-worth, or worrying about what other’s think is getting in the way of you deeper awesome, I invite you to join me.
Dr. Melissa McCreery says that “The fear of not being good enough is one of the biggest shame magnets anyone can have and most of us carry at least some version of this fear.” And if you’re here, chances are that this leads to emotional eating or overeating.
So my plan for the next little while is this:
- In a situation where I start to feel threatened, angry, judged, or afraid of how I’m being seen by others, I’m going to get curious. Take a deep breath and ask myself why I’m feeling that way.
- If the answer has to do with fear of not being good enough or being seen as a fraud, I’m going to:
- Remind myself that what other people think has everything to do with them, and very little to with who I actually am.
- Think about the ways that I am competent, enough, and worthy just as I am. There is nothing I need to do to be good enough.
- Remember that life has many paths, and any opportunity denied to me simply leaves me open to something else coming along.
- See my cravings, hear what they have to say, and then tell them to go away. I’ll go for a walk, listen to a podcast, or look up photos of my dream kitten… anything nourishing – but not put unwanted food in my face to feel better.
And, if you feel like it’s taking an insanely long time for your emotions to catch up to your brain, take heart – Dr Karyl McBride explains that “When we make changes, we usually take a cognitive leap of understanding first and then it takes our emotional being some time to catch up so that the head and gut are congruent and saying the same thing.”
So, be patient with yourself. I’ll be doing the same.