Episode 91 | Imposter Syndrome: Fact or Fiction

Imposter Syndrome is a common topic in our profession… one that is creating disastrous consequences in our lives. In today’s episode, I share once again about imposter syndrome and explore Five Key Points:

  1. Imposter Syndrome defined
  2. The reason for the label
  3. The little known truth about this “diagnosis”
  4. The compounding negative consequences of the Imposter Syndrome identity 
  5. Imposter Syndrome’s relationship with the normal human experience

Bottom Line… the labels we apply to ourselves create limitations in our lives. Breaking free from those limitations first requires releasing the labels themselves. 



Vet Life Academy


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Imposter syndrome, undeniable fact or self-feeding fiction with disastrous consequences. That's what we're talking about in episode 91. I'm Dr. Cari Wise and this is the Joyful DVM Podcast. Hey friends, Cari here. I just went back and listened to the episode that you were about to listen to and what I noticed is the audio quality has some issues this week. It's a little bit crackly,

so I wanted to give you a heads up, but I wanted to release this episode anyway because it's really important content and I'm pretty sure that it's gonna change your life. So sorry for the crackles, but enjoy the show. Hello my friends. Today we're gonna be talking about imposter syndrome, and this is a topic that I've covered before I went back and looked and way back in episode two I talked about imposter syndrome and specifically the upside of imposter syndrome.

Now, I'll admit before recording this episode, episode 91, I have not gone back and listened to what I said before. I'm sure I stand behind everything that I said, but the way that imposter syndrome has been coming up around me in recent weeks, I really felt inspired and led to talk about it again, and we're gonna look at it from probably a unique perspective.

You probably wouldn't expect anything less from me over here of the Joyful DVM podcast, right? So let's talk about imposter syndrome. Is it fact or is it fiction? Well, let's cut to the chase. It's fiction. Imposter syndrome is fiction. Now, hang with me. For those of you who feel triggered by my words, who are starting to feel defensive,

I want you to hang with me and listen to what I have to say about this. I have five points that I wanna make here over the next little bit around imposter syndrome, and I think that what I'm going to share can really change your entire experience. So just bear with me here and let's get through this. So point number one, what is imposter syndrome?

Let's start out and define it. We have to make sure that we're talking about the same thing. So what I did in order to get us an answer to this question was I went to the American Psychological Association Journal and I found the way that they described it. I found a passage in there that I'm gonna share with you. This is from back in November of 2013,

I believe is when this was originally published. So this is what it was written. First described by psychologist Susan, a PhD and Pauline Rose, a PhD in the 1970s, imposter phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.

Though the imposter phenomenon is not an official diagnosis listed in the dsm, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self doubt. Imposter feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and often depression. So that WA is what was written in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, and it talks about imposter phenomenon, which has been kind of relabeled imposter syndrome as something first described back in the 1970s.

So imposter syndrome is simply that combination of emotions that we experience so doubt, some fear along with these worries that we're gonna be found out as frauds. So that's really what the definition of imposter syndrome is. And so point number two that I wanted to make was why did this get a label in the first place? Why did this phenomenon and now what we call a syndrome,

why did we give it a label? Well, we gave it a label. It was given a label simply because these two PhDs, psychologists recognized a pattern of behavior and a pattern of experience among high achieving people. And in order to talk about those patterns, they gave those patterns a label. This is something that we do all the time. It's kind of the heart of language and it's definitely,

if we think about our medical profession and we think about the medical journals, or I'm sorry, the medical dictionaries that we have an entire medical dictionary. It just exists so that we can talk about things in a way that we all understand what we're talking about. So imposter phenomenon. Now, what is known as imposter syndrome is no different. It's simply a label that was given to a common experience and that common experience was really the feelings of doubt,

the feelings of insecurity, the worries that somebody might find out that you don't know as much as you think you know that you're a fraud. That common experience was given the label of imposter phenomenon. Now, why is this a problem? This kind of brings us number one to point number three, that kind of sounds weird, but point number three that I wanted to make today,

which is that imposter syndrome and the precluded label for it, imposter phenomenon. Neither one of those are actually diagnosable mental illnesses. Hear me on this. This is a critically important to the point I wanna make today. Imposter phenomenon and imposter syndrome. Neither one of those things are diagnosable mental illnesses. They are not diseases. Did you hear me? They are not diseases.

This is so important for us to understand because although the motives behind giving this experience a label that we can all understand when we talk about it, it has grown into something that it was never intended to be and something that it still, here we are 50 years later from its original discussion, it's still not considered a diagnosable mental illness, but the way that we talk about it,

the way that we label it, the way that we then apply that label to ourselves creates that exact kind of experience for us. Creating the label and applying it to ourselves creates a massively negative and compounding consequence for us. This is what we have to understand this, this imposter syndrome that we label ourselves with. When we in, we literally label ourselves as I have imposter syndrome.

How many of you out there have said that I have imposter syndrome? We claim it, we own it, we embody it. And when we do that, what happens? It puts us at a disadvantage. It creates shame because we build a belief system around being less than. It leaves us constantly in comparison. As soon as we label ourselves as imposter,

as soon as we decide that we have imposter syndrome, our brain goes to work proving that true. It's just simply the way the particular activating system works. Your conscious awareness is programmed by what you focus on, and as soon as you label yourself as anything, your brain is going to gather the evidence to prove that that is true. Imposter syndrome is no different.

So when you start to label yourself and talk about yourself as an imposter, guess what? Your experiences will start to stack up to prove it. But friends, we have to go back to point number three. Imposter syndrome is not a diagnosable mental illness. This is not something that somebody gave you scientifically. This is not something that you can not undo,

right? This is not your height. This is not the gender you were born with. This is not the state where you have residency like these are not things that we can prove. Imposter center is not something you can prove. It's not something that is absolute. It is simply a label that was originally created for us to be able to have a conversation,

but now has turned into an identity and as we've id, we've turned it into an identity, we've turned it into a problem. As soon as we start identifying ourselves as imposters saying and believing that we have imposter syndrome, now we are automatically behind the eight ball. We are automatically at a disadvantage. We are automatically building this cycle of shame and judgment toward ourselves constantly in comparison,

never measuring up. We are striving to solve for this imposter syndrome through knowledge and achievement through perfectionism and all of this because underneath it we believe that if we cure our imposter syndrome, then we'll be happy, then we'll be more successful, then we'll be better veterinarians or veterinary technicians or whatever thing you wanna put on the other side of that. And friends,

this is the heart of point number four, that when we create that label and we apply it to ourselves, it creates a massively negative and compounding consequence for us in our lives. It does us no good to do that. Point number five, just let yourself be human. All of the things that came into the drive to label, the experience as imposter phenomenon and now what we call imposter syndrome,

all of those things are just simply very normal parts of the human experience. Very normal. It is very normal to feel self-doubt. It is very normal to feel insecure. It is very normal to get out of any professional program, to step foot day one as the now, the new professional. And to believe that maybe you're not ready to have that doubt,

to have that fear. None of that is a problem. But as soon as we give it a label, we make it a problem. We not only make it a problem, we make it into something that we're supposed to overcome, but how are you ever gonna know if you get there? The only way to know that you've cured yourself from imposter syndrome is to never feel a negative emotion around whatever the experience is that you've labeled yourself in imposter over.

So in our case, veterinary medicine to never feel a negative emotion about veterinary medicine again, how realistic is that? Do we think that's even possible? Is it supposed to be? No, it's not. This is the practice of veterinary medicine and my friends getting over your imposter syndrome and veterinary medicine would require veterinary medicine to be a perfection. It would have to be the perfection of veterinary medicine for you to ever get to the point that you would believe that you didn't have imposter syndrome anymore.

We're chasing our tails here. It's okay to feel doubt. It's okay to feel insecure. It's okay to feel afraid. And the truth is that it's not isolated to your veterinary career. Your veterinary career very well could have amplified it. But the truth is, all of this is anchored in very normal human experiences like self-doubt and lack of self trust and questionable self worth and questionable self value.

If we aren't very much anchored in the reality and the truth and the essence of who we are, then all of our life, our human experiences offer up the opportunity for comparison, offer up the opportunity for us to believe that we are less than. When we then go and label very normal human experiences with a title like imposter syndrome. Now we've turned it into a real problem.

We've turned it into something that was never meant to be. We've put ourself into a situation of disadvantage. We're believing that we're broken and we've given that brokenness a label. You're not broken, you're normal, you're human. It's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be insecure. It's okay to doubt. That's all part of the human experience. The reason this is such a problem for us is because we were taught all along the way that negative emotion means something needs to be solved for happily ever after.

How many times have you heard me say this happily ever after is the biggest line of bullshit there ever was happily ever after is not the goal here. And even though it sounds wonderful in children's books, the truth is that it sets us up for an expectation that we are never going to achieve. You're never going to achieve a state where you are happy and untouched by negative emotion 100% of the time.

That's not how the human experience works, but it is what you're probably measuring yourself against. It's what most of us measure ourselves against. Until we realize that the measuring system itself is flawed happily ever after was never the point. I want you to be happy. Don't get me wrong. I want you to be fulfilled. I want you to be joyful.

I want you to be peaceful, and I want you to be able to create all of that for yourself. I don't want you to be dependent on something outside of you. I don't want you to have to rely on people telling you that you're good enough before you can believe it. I don't want you to keep chasing achievements just to cope with the doubt that you have about yourself.

I want you to get to a place that you believe that you are worthy simply because you exist, that you know that you are valuable because you are part of the human race and because you exist and this time in the world that you can trust yourself if you'll just listen to you. What you already know is everything that you need, it's all inside of you already.

You already have everything that you need. If you'll learn how to gain access to it, I want you to know that it's not a problem when you doubt that it's not a problem to take action in the face of fear, that that's part of what grows our confidence. Confidence isn't something that you're just born with. It's something that we develop over time.

And the way that we develop it is by intentionally putting us ourselves in situations that scare the crap out of us and then living through them. And here's what I know for sure and for certain that the greatest challenges in your life are things that you've survived. You're still here, so you have no evidence that you aren't capable. You have no evidence that you're not worthy.

You have no evidence that you shouldn't be in the job that you're in. If anything, you have all kinds of evidence. Quite to the contrary, you should be exactly where you are because you are there. You should have that degree because you've earned it. You've got the diploma that proves it. You're qualified to be a veterinarian or a credentialed veterinary technician because there's a licensing board somewhere that gave you a license.

Look at the actual factual evidence and let go of the nonsense that your mind offers you when it comes to your value and your worth and your capability. My friends, you are not a fraud. You can't be a fraud. You are simply a human and a human experience with a human brain. And with that human experience comes 50% positive and 50% negative emotion.

Some days the negative wins, some days the positive wins, but no matter where you're at, at any given day, you always have 100% ability to shift that vibration, that frequency for yourself. It's a skill to be developed. We don't even know. Most of us, we don't even know that we have that power, but you do. And it takes somebody showing you that you have that telling you that you have it before most of us even realize it because it's not what the world teaches us.

The world teaches us that happiness and confidence and and security are created through external achievements, through titles, through accolades, and in veterinary medicine, through clients who are happy, in patients who get better. It's an impossible uphill battle because none of those things are things that you control, not any of them. You're never gonna control the things outside of you.

And when our peace and our joy is dependent on what's outside of us, we will keep chasing it forever. And as we continue to fail, then our self doubt will build. Then our sense of self will fail, then our trust in ourselves will be deteriorated. We will believe we don't have value. We will believe we don't have worth, but friends,

it's simply because we're looking in the wrong place. It was never the responsibility of the people outside of you to convince you of your value and your worth. That's just something that you get to discover and embrace and embody for yourself. It's absolute, it's there. It's just simply covered up with a bunch of crap that the world's taught you. But I promise you,

your value is infinite. Your worth is infinite. You are infinitely capable. You are infinitely lovable. You are worthy. Everything that you have in your life and everything that has happened up until now is not an accident. None of this has happened by accident. This is all part of your intentional journey. And it takes us each getting to the point that we want to exist in a different way for us to take the actions to move toward it.

You get to create your own reality and labeling yourself as an imposter, accepting without question that you have imposter syndrome will never move you forward. So the next time you wanna verbalize that I'm an imposter, I have imposter syndrome, I want you to think of me. I wonder you to think of me being a bit wound up here on Episode 91 of the podcast.

And I want you to remember that I will never believe that about you, that you can try to convince me as much as you want. But bottom line imposter syndrome is not a diagnosis. It's not something that's recognized as a diagnosable mental illness by the American Psychological Association. And if they don't recognize it as some true factual illness, then I'm definitely not going to either and neither should you because accepting that as your identity will limit you.

It already is. And it's also put you in a position of trying to solve for the human condition it has. You constantly arguing with the experience of negative emotion and my friend, you're so much more powerful than that. You don't need to be afraid of a human emotion. You don't need to be afraid of a vibration in your body. You just need to understand what's happening.

And that's what's so scary about it. That's why we wanna change it. That's why we don't wanna experience it. It's because it's uncertain and we are hardwired to avoid things that are uncertain because uncertainty comes with danger. But my friends are not a danger here. When you look around, you're not about to be eaten by a lion. You're just simply at a point where it's time for you to understand what's happening with you from an emotional standpoint.

Your wellbeing is not something that you will create for yourself with external achievement. It's not something you will create for yourself by external validation that is never going to be the source of your wellbeing. The source of your wellbeing is inside and it's already there. It's always been there. It's just that it's gotten covered up with a lot of the noise of the world like I've already shared.

And so what you can do thankfully, is you can change this for yourself. You don't have to take any massive action externally. You don't have to be better. You don't have to learn more in order to do this. You just simply have to be curious and you have to be willing to explore what's really been going on. And there's no need for judgment and shame here.

There's no need for that. We all learn these things at the point in our lives when we're supposed to learn that. And for some of us, we're gonna learn it in our twenties. And for our others of us, it's gonna be our thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and even later. None of that's a problem. You're gonna learn it at the point that you're supposed to learn it.

And so if today, as you've heard me talking about imposter syndrome, you recognize you are one of those people who has identified yourself as a imposter, who is living into the identity of imposter syndrome, suffering from imposter syndrome, being held back by imposter syndrome. I want you to consider just letting that go. I want you to consider what your life would be like if you didn't believe that was true.

Because here's the truth, it doesn't have to be true. The only thing that makes it it true is your persistence in hanging onto it as reality. It's not something we can prove. It's not an absolute, but it will continue to influence your decisions and your experiences if you let it. I know this can be a lot to take in all at once,

and I know that you may not have the slightest idea where to start, but don't you worry when it comes to imposter syndrome and veterinary medicine, which tends to really amplify a lot of that self doubt and that insecurity and even shake our self worth. That's exactly the reason that I created about Life Academy. Everything that we do inside of about Life Academy is there to help build you up,

to help you understand the power of who you are to help you become an empowered individual in your own life. And in that journey, your whole career experience changes as well. The best place to start is in our reboot course. The doors for that are gonna be opening very soon in our self-paced reboot course. And then we'll be opening up again at the beginning of the year for our interactive Vet Life Academy for life experience.

So when you wanna get those updates about that, jump over to joyfuldvm.com/VetLifeAcademy and sign up for notifications that way as soon as the self-paced course becomes available. And as soon as we open up for that interactive lifetime experience, again, you will be the first to know. Trust me, the process works. You just need the right people on your side encouraging you,

building you up instead of tearing you down, helping you to see how amazing you really are. Friends, vet me didn't ruin your life. It's just preparing you for what comes next. It's a catalyst in our personal development. And that personal development opens up all the doors of possibility for your future. Don't give in to that belief that because you feel like an imposter,

you never should have done this job. Don't give into the belief that vetmed ruined your life because I promise you it didn't. The only thing that holds you back is what you believe is possible. And as long as you continue to embody the label of imposter syndrome, you will limit that possibility for yourself. So let's just ditch it. There's no upside to continuing to believe that.

Instead, embrace what is true. You are a human in a human experience, and that human experience is going to include moments of fear and doubt and insecurity. That human experience is going to offer you opportunities to compare yourself to others. But the amount of time that you spend in those disempowering thought patterns is yours and yours alone to decide. As soon as you develop the skill of shifting your perspective to something more useful,

something empowering you then begin to change your whole experience for yourself. All right, my friends, that's gonna wrap it up for this week. Jump over to joyful dvm.com/vet Life Academy if you wanna get the updates about when the new program's open again, and we'll see you next time. Bye for Now.