Saying Goodbye to That Imposter

The phrase Imposter Syndrome has sprouted up recently in our everyday conversations. Coined as a phrase in 1978, it is a feeling not rooted in reality but self-perceived to be true. Imposter Syndrome occurs after a period of change and it is the sense and fear that you are still the “lesser” person you once were.

Got a new promotion as an Executive Director? In a loving, healthy relationship? You might question your new state of happiness. You worry that you have everyone duped. Can it be that you’re faking this? One day the Imposter Police will show up to your door and whisk you away from this new state of bliss.

The reality of the Imposter Syndrome is that — in one way or another — you earned to be where you are. You invested in the upgrade. You are a new, beautiful fantastic version of yourself. This can take a while to recognize…particularly for people with eating disorders.

A 2004 study found that 1 in 3 women treated with an eating disorder will relapse within 2 years of treatment. That doesn’t even take into account women who try to resolve it themselves.

I struggled with food as early as 9 years old and all the way through my mid 20s. Hospitalized three times for Anorexia, I spent much of my childhood and early adulthood in a whirlwind of restriction, exercise, overeating, isolation, anxiety and anger. My relationships suffered with my friends and family.

Anyone who has been impacted by this knows that eating disorders are not just about food and being thin. It is addictive. It is reactive. It is a response to chaos, power, instability. You form deep habits to hold onto the thin veil of control. And those habits send you spiraling into dark, murky waters.

Relapse stems from relying on old patterns of behavior. Communities across the world create idioms to explain these difficult habits. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” people will mumble.

What happens when you do learn new tricks? Can you allow yourself to embrace that? This is the ongoing pendulum that sways back and forth in the minds of people with addictive behaviors. It is uncharted territory and it is weird.

As with an eating disorder, it’s scary to think that you actually ate 3 meals without throwing up. That you had a piece of cake and didn’t immediately run to the gym or write in a food diary how you were going to restrict the next day. You’re not a normal person who can eat normal food, you think. And guess what? YOU ARE.

The Imposter Police are not going to break down your door. News alert: they don’t exist. The moment you feel yourself falling into Imposter Syndrome is the exact moment to give yourself total praise. Shout out, dance, jump around, let the whole world know. Congratulations — you are doing it! Your new reality is fully sponsored and presented by your own sexy self. Say it over and over again. This is who you are.