Ever Feel Like a Fraud?

By: Stephanie Osuba

Despite your degrees, acclaims, and accomplishments, do you ever sometimes feel like you are an imposter? That you’ve been getting lucky or that you’re a fake in your profession and one day people are going to find you out? As it turns out, you aren’t alone. Many successful people feel this way and often have to step back and remember all the things they have achieved – Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein among these people! While there is no diagnosis or even proper name for this feeling in the DSM-5, there are countless of reports of this in psychology and psychotherapy literature. In fact, the first time the term “imposter syndrome” was used was in an article in 1978 by Drs Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes who – after studying 150 educated, established, and highly respected women – found that they didn’t have an internal sense of success and found themselves to be “imposters.”

So what causes this “imposter syndrome” that befalls so many successful people? One reason could be that there is no real measure to success. There is always something more that you can do and regardless of how much success you’ve already had and you think you are content with, self-doubt can always creep in and say you haven’t done enough. Another reason could be “pluralistic ignorance,” which is believing something to be true without being able to prove or disprove it – usually involving unspoken or false beliefs about other people. For example, research has shown that all college students feel anxiety about school but the actual students think they are the only ones who feel that way and other people are having no trouble adjusting to college life. And lastly, talent can make us believe that we haven’t worked hard enough and don’t deserve the praise or success of what comes naturally to us.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201811/do-you-ever-feel-fraud 

If you or someone you know appears to be having issues with self-esteem or is suffering from anxiety, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

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Low Self Esteem: 7 Steps to Start Loving Yourself

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Self-esteem describes the way that we evaluate and judge ourselves. It is assessed on a continuum from high to low, with unfortunately many people who fall under the category of having low self-esteem. People who feel this way about themselves do not see themselves and their views as valuable, compare themselves to others, feel worthless, and lack self-confidence.

If you or anyone you know struggles with low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to bear the feelings that come with it. It can be draining, can impair overall functioning, can influence social interactions, and can cause one to be withdrawn from society. Although it is not easy to cope with low self-esteem, it can be improved through steps towards accepting and loving oneself. The capacity for change comes from within yourself!

Here are 7 Steps to Begin Loving Yourself and Boost your Self-Esteem:

1. Practice saying things you like about yourself in the mirror every morning when you wake up. Start your day taking the time to compliment yourself. This will begin to come naturally the more you do it.

2. Write out a list of your accomplishments. Accomplishments as big as landing the job you wanted or as small as getting the laundry done count. The more you applaud yourself, the more you will be able to boost your confidence.

3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failures. It is easy to hold onto failures and consider yourself to be a failure. Learn to accept and forgive mistakes, recognizing that everyone in the world makes them.

4. Stop comparing. Remind yourself that you are different from the people around you, and that you are not them. The more you try to compare yourself with others, the more you lose sight of who you are.

5. Spend time with the people you love. It is easy to isolate when you are not feeling your best, but surrounding yourself with the family and friends who you feel closest to can boost your happiness and make you feel good about yourself, especially seeing how happy they are to be with you.

6. But also, spend time alone. Take yourself out somewhere nice, go on a long drive alone, or even travel by yourself. Giving yourself “me-time” is important in developing a better relationship with yourself.

7. Remind yourself that no on is perfect. It is easy for us to feel bad about ourselves when we think we need to be this “perfect” person. Remember, perfect does not exist, so you should just try to be you instead.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Self-Esteem and Shaming Parents

By Stephanie Osuba

We have all felt, in one way or another, like we weren’t good enough or even felt embarrassed after making a mistake at work. This is healthy in that we are expressing sadness or just reflecting on a situation that could have been handled differently, but we move on and eventually feel valued and confident again. However, for some, that feeling of shame and guilt never goes away. Some believe they are inherently flawed, worthless, and inferior to everyone else. These negative emotions and lack of self-esteem are largely rooted in repeated childhood and adolescence trauma that is often left unprocessed. Internalization of this emotional abuse leads to a conditioning of sort, usually by the primary caregiver, that the negative emotions constantly felt reflect who one is as a person. This person comes to genuinely believe that he or she is a bad person, unlovable, never good enough, and deserves to be treated with disrespect.

The constant shame is also accompanied by a constant feeling of guilt. Everything is his or her fault, regardless of the context. There is a sense of unjust responsibility for other people’s emotions and the outcome of all situations. Its no wonder why low self-esteem can manifest itself in anxiety, self-harm or poor self-care, or on the other extreme, narcissism and antisocial tendencies. Here are some behaviors that can be a manifestation of low self-esteem:

  • Lack of healthy self-love: poor self-care, self-harm, lack of empathy, and inadequate social skills
  • Emptiness: loneliness, lack of motivation, and finding distractions from emotions
  • Perfectionism: this is often a behavior that manifests as adults because of the unrealistic standards these children were held to by their parents and were punished for not meeting
  • Narcissism: grandiose fantasies of who they want others to perceive them to be; even if they do succeed however, this protective personality doesn’t numb the negative emotions they truly feel.
  • Unhealthy relationships: people with low self-esteem are incapable of building and maintaining a relationship with others, largely because they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like. Both parties are usually extremely dependent.
  • Susceptibility to manipulation: the constant self-doubt, shame and guilt make it too easy to bend a person with low self-esteem to an experienced manipulator’s will.

Source: Cikanavicius, D. (2018, September 03). A Brief Guide to Unprocessed Childhood Toxic Shame. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-self/2018/09/childhood-toxic-shame/ 

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-esteem, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Anxiety and Guilt: Survivor’s Guilt (Part 4)

45e6c1edf37ff2b80fe3120ae690ec26In the last part of our series on guilt, we will explore survivor guilt—the type of guilt that arises when you are doing better than those you care about. Survivor guilt is most common in those who have survived a traumatic event when their friends or family members did not. The most common case is in the case of veterans. They may feel guilty because they lived while their fellow troops died. Similarly, a daughter who survived a car crash in which her parents died may feel this guilt. She might think, “Why did I survive and they didn’t?” “How is that fair?” “Why them? Why not me?” While this type of survivor’s guilt is common, you also don’t necessarily have to have survived something in order to experience it. You might just be doing better than someone else at something—maybe you’re living in a million dollar house while a close friend’s on the brink of homelessness due to financial struggles.

rsz_img1_802Whatever the case may be, someone struggling with survivor’s guilt tends to think that they did something wrong by surviving the traumatic event or for doing better than someone else. Sometimes it may arise as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a mental condition that can arise from experiencing trauma. Survivor’s guilt may come with an influx of emotions such as joy, relief, grief, sadness and gratitude. You may feel happy and relieved for surviving but sad and burdened because others did not. It is also common to feel like you’ve been given a second chance and you, therefore, respond by taking a huge burden upon yourself to live life to its fullest. While it is good to have this heightened sense of purpose, these emotions and self-imposed burdens can get very overwhelming.

In order to overcome survivor’s guilt, it is important to realize that there are people out there that genuinely care for you and love you. What happened isn’t your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong by surviving. While it’s so heartbreaking to deal with a loss, remember that whoever you lost would probably feel happiest if you used the experience to build a better you. Make them proud, but don’t overload yourself with expectations. While nothing you do can bring them back, use this new, broader vision of life to your advantage and to others’ advantage. Make them proud, but more importantly, make yourself proud!

If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are having trouble dealing with guilt, PTSD, self-criticizing thoughts, or self-esteem issues, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Written by Kassandra C.
 Sources: Krauss, Susan W. (2012, Aug. 11). The Definitive Guide to Guilt: The five types of guilt and how you can cope with each. Retrieved from
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201208/the-definitive-guide-guilt

Anxiety and Guilt: Feeling Guilty for Something You Did (Part 1)

As we all know, anxiety can be caused by many things. One cause that we don’t often see discussed is the type of anxiety that arises from guilty feelings. Most of us know what guilt is and have experienced it sometime throughout our lives. You may have felt guilty for doing poorly in school and disappointing your parents, being a bystander while witnessing a crime, or even thinking thoughts that go against your moral code. This is the first of a four-part series we will be doing on guilt in the upcoming weeks. Today we will explore the type of guilt that is typically the most common: guilt for something that you did in the past.

When you do something wrong—for example by hurting someone else or violating your own morals—it is completely normal to feel guilty for it. You may wish that life was a VHS tape and you could just hit rewind and redo what you did, but sadly, this isn’t the case. People make mistakes—in fact, mistakes are one of the most effective ways that human beings learn.

The important thing to do when you feel guilty for something you did is to work at accepting it and learning from it. It’s definitely easier said than done and will take time and effort. It is also important to understand exactly what happened. Step back and look at the situation; examine why you did what you did. When something like this happens, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of self-criticism and self-blame. What this does is it lowers your self-esteem, self-confidence, and it makes you believe that you’re a worse person than you really are. Though these feelings are completely valid, sooner or later, you will need to accept what happened and learn to forgive yourself. Only through acceptance and forgiveness can you find healing and work to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Remember that a mistake in the past does not define who you are. Just because you made a mistake does not mean you are a bad person. In fact, feeling guilty about it now is a sign that you regret it and that you really didn’t mean to hurt anyone. If you hurt someone, apologize as best as you can. Let them know how you feel about it now and that you understand the harm that you’ve done. Sometimes people will forgive you and sometimes they won’t. In the latter case, know that no matter what you do or say, you cannot control another person. What you can control is the way you react to the situation. People will heal on their own time, just as you’ll heal and learn from this on your own time. Accept the consequences, watch the self-blaming thoughts, and keep in mind that this is a work in progress. Ultimately, there is always a lesson to be learned from any mistake you make. Don’t try to change it; just use it to work at a better future and a better you. Your past does not define you, this guilt doesn’t have to consume you, and your future can still be bright.

Of course, these guilty feelings can be overwhelming and it is normal to seek help for them. If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are having trouble dealing with guilt, self-criticizing thoughts, or self-esteem issues, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Written by Kassandra C.
 Sources: Krauss, Susan W. (2012, Aug. 11). The Definitive Guide to Guilt: The five types of guilt and how you can cope with each. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201208/the-definitive-guide-guilt