Journeying Toward Wholeness

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How Do I Deal with Imposter Syndrome? A Jungian View

March 21st, 2022 · deal with imposter syndrome

How do I deal with imposter syndrome? This is a vital question for many people who outwardly seem to be very accomplished and capable.

Fake It and Hope to Make It? …How Do I Deal with Imposter Syndrome?
(PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets)

“Imposter syndrome” refers to the psychological state in which  people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. It’s not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but the term “imposter syndrome” has been around since clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes published their paper on “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women” in 1978. Their initial work was on the imposter syndrome in high achieving women, but over time, it came to be realized that people of all kinds were subject to, and forced to deal with imposter syndrome.

When people are subject to imposter syndrome, they doubt their own accomplishments and they have a deep fear of being exposed as a fraud. People who are dealing with this issue may have ample evidence that they are successful and capable, and yet, they often fear that others will see “that I’m not really the person I pretend to be”.

If you’re subject to “imposter syndrome”, the anxiety and fear can be excruciating, and the effort to hide what are experienced as “failures and inadequacies” can be exhausting. So, how do I deal with imposter syndrome? How can I feel good about who I really am?

The Inner Narrative of Imposter Syndrome

In order to deal with imposter syndrome, we first have to become conscious of the inner story that it generates in us. Imposter syndrome produces anxiety-laden narratives that undercut our accomplishments.

If we land a good job, imposter syndrome tells us that we either put one over on the interviewers, or that they were short on good candidates, and “desperate, and so they had to pick me”. A common feature of imposter narrative is the feeling that our inadequacies and general ineptitude are just about to be exposed. The senior executive riding the elevator up to her office finds the inner voice telling her that “today will be the day”. This means that the day when her professional weaknesses and general lack of skills get exposed has finally arrived. The professional who has demonstrated great skill in doing one professional activity is bombarded with a sense of foreboding and failure if he has to do something slightly different from the familiar. “Now everyone will see who you really are”, the inner voice tells him.

What makes it essential to deal with imposter syndrome is the way it can stop us from seeking new opportunities, exploring new areas of our lives, and putting our energy out into the world.

In Jungian terms, the imposter syndrome is a powerful affect-laden complex. It is sensitive to, and triggered by. situations where we might be capable and confident in our own abilities. It seems to want us to not trust ourselves. Why?

Avoidance is Not the Way to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Avoiding looking at our imposter syndrome, and avoiding the feelings that go with it, is not going to help us to get out from under its self-sabotaging energy. Research shows that people with imposter syndrome tend to greatly doubt their abilities and to have a deep fear of failure. They often have a perception of phoniness about themselves that others often don’t experience. They often perceive others as having very high expectations of them, and that can often align with their own sense of perfectionism. They also tend to be people who have a strong need to achieve something of significance, and have a very strong need to be liked.

If we can stand to look at our imposter syndrome, we can see that it is often rooted in shame that originates very early in life. We may have experienced deep toxic shame at an early point in life’s journey, and now something in us is defending us from ever experiencing that again. As a defence against shame, it keeps us in a place of self-doubt and disengagement from life’s challenges. If this is the dynamic, we need to confront our need for healing.

Persona and Imposter Syndrome

From a Jungian perspective, imposter syndrome is rooted in the persona, that part of ourselves that we show to others and the social world. This social aspect or mask is something we can easily over-identify with, and mistake for being who we really are. Yet we’re actually much more than that.

We can deal with imposter syndrome by working on affirming our strengths and abilities. That may be very worthwhile. Yet a more lasting, deeper healing may come from the place of deep acceptance, when we are finally ready to experience, to be kind to, and to love the whole of who we are.

Working in a stable, trusting relationship with a Jungian depth psychotherapist can be one of the best ways to reach this deep acceptance and cherishing of who we are, both conscious and unconscious. To have respect and love for our own personal way through our life, and to feel that we are living that life out, is ultimately the best way to deal with imposter syndrome.

Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey,

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Dealing with Family Conflict and Family Rupture

March 7th, 2022 · dealing with family conflict

The reality is that many more people than you might think are dealing with family conflict. If family conflict is a reality you’re facing in your life, you are far from unique.

Family Conflict Can Take Many Different Forms (PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets)

What does it mean for our personal journey when we’re dealing with family conflict? The answer to that question can vary immensely. It depends on the type of conflict involved, the personalities of the individuals in conflict, and the nature of the family system. One thing that we know for certain is that individuals often deny or downplay the impact that conflict with family members has on their lives.

There are aspects of family conflict that properly belong in the realm of couples’ therapists or family therapists. Yet there is also real importance in looking closely at the impact on the individual who finds her- or himself dealing with family conflict. What is the impact on us personally and individually of dealing with conflict within our families? How does it affect the individual psyche? Is it part of a major life transition? What gets stirred up in the unconscious?

Clearly, family conflict is a matter of importance at all times and seasons. However, the pandemic has brought home the reality of dealing with family conflict in a way that is unprecedented. Long bouts of lockdown have led to tensions in families. Many have had the experience of deep rifts in families resulting from differing attitudes and values around COVID.

It is now clear to me that the family is a microcosm of the world. To understand the world, we can study the family: issues such as power, intimacy, autonomy, trust, and communication skills are vital parts underlying how we live in the world.

~ Virginia Satir

The greatest tragedy of the family is the unlived lives of the parents.

~ C.G. Jung

When We’re Dealing with Family Conflict

Needless to say, dealing with family conflict can have a huge psychological effect on people. We expect that conflict will have an enormous effect on the emotional security of children. However, what may be less apparent is the impact on the sense of security and well-being of adults. Certainly, conflicts between parents and children, between spouses, between siblings of any age, and all other forms of family conflict impact us in profound ways.

So, here are some of the most common examples of family conflict:

  • Issues over finances and jobs;
  • Issues related to in-laws;
  • Issues related to marital fidelity;
  • Conflict over family events;
  • Sibling conflict over care of an elderly parent;
  • Divorced parents in conflict over care of a child; and,
  • Conflicting political or social values within a family or extended family

These are only some of a large number of possible sources of conflict.

The Unconscious Aspects of Dealing with Family Conflict

When it comes to family conflict, we may be dealing with an “iceberg” situation. We may be consciously aware of feelings, attitudes and emotional responses engendered by conflict. Yet there may be a great deal of unacknowledged and/or unconscious material below the surface in the unconscious. It may be essential to try and make this material conscious, and to come to terms with as much of it as we can.

For instance, we may be carrying long-held unconscious resentments. Or, there may be repressed parts of ourselves that we could never bring forward into the family. Then again, there may be parts of our shadow bearing emotions or attitudes that are not even acceptable to ourselves, let alone to the family. These various factors may be linked to experiences of depression and anxiety. If we are to find any kind of healing or any sense of integrity around family conflict, we may need to explore such psychic contents.

Journeying Towards Wholeness and Healing

When an individual is cast into the depths of family conflict, it can be profoundly disorienting. It may be essential to seek healing and to discover ways to make meaning of what has occurred. As I write this, I’m thinking of clients who have experienced conflict with spouses and parents over the last two years. In many cases, this has been extremely painful, and has left individuals feeling that they have lost their bearings. As a result, they have a strong sense of wanting to recover their compass.

When dealing with family conflict, it can be of tremendous benefit to rely on the support of a relationship with a Jungian psychoanalyst or depth psychotherapist, who can help in processing all the aspects of the conflict.

With every good wish for your personal journey,

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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