Imposters Syndrome – Overcoming Self-Doubts


Robin Williams, Richard Nixon, Oprah Winfrey, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, John Steinbeck, George Washington, John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and many others struggled with their self-esteem and thought themselves imposters at some point during their lifetime.

Why do so many successful people struggle emotionally and psychologically? Why do they often feel that they don’t deserve their success and that soon everyone will see them for who they really are… a fraud. These feelings are usually brought on by a flood of self-doubts rooted deeply in their personal history and psyche… often the same psyche that drove them to succeed.

This is often referred to as Imposters Syndrome, which is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud… Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.” (Harvard Business Review, 2/11/21)

During our deep grieving, many of us often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of self-doubts about our role as husbands, friends, and lovers of our better halves.

These self-doubts may cause us to feel that others will see what a crappy husband we have been, even while others are supporting and encouraging us. When we are covered over in grief and missing our wives, every comment can impact our self-image and mental health. (Even more so if you start dating.)

Subtle comments from others can turn into full-blown breakdowns that further aggravate already depressing thoughts and deteriorating relationships. These can include questions/statements (with possible self-responses) such as:

  • How are you holding up under all this pressure? (I say “ok,” but I am crumbling)
  • Were you able to be there for her while she was dying? (I say “yes,” but the answer is “no.”)
  • Are you able to fulfill the requests she made to you before she died? (What requests? Did I miss something?)

Self-criticisms can cause even more damage, such as:

  • I should have taken better care of her! (No matter what I did, it was not enough)
  • Did I listen to her and what she wanted? (I know she had more to say, I did not hear her)
  • Could I have found better medical care for her? (I had early doubts and did not act on them)

Even accolades from others can hurt as you often feel undeserving of them.

  • You took excellent care of her during her last days. (It was not enough, I could have done more)
  • You seem to be holding up really well. (I melt down every day, I try to put on a good face)
  • It looks like you are moving on; good for you! (Not really! I will never move on)

Being unsure about your past, present and future is normal, but it should not lead to doubting yourself! We all have self-doubts, which may drive us towards success, or they can cause us to hide in a closet and avoid dealing with the challenges facing us. Each of us has to decide which response is right for us.

I came to believe that I had to confront my self-doubts, self-condemnation, and often self-imposed isolation. Was it easy? Heck no! It was hard, and I found that I had to be constantly on guard as niggling dark thoughts would attempt to invade my consciousness.

Over time I became better and better at recognizing these negative thoughts for what they were and better at rejecting and turning away from them to more life-affirming thoughts. This primarily included relying increasingly on “Gratitude” as my weapon of choice in defeating negative thoughts.

As I progressed along these lines, I regained my sense of self-confidence. Eventually, I even gained a sense of happiness in my life again. If I could do it, you can too.

© Copyright 2022 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

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Widower to Widower 2nd Edition is available through:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie bookstores, Target, Walmart, Overdrive, libraries, and more.

To buy autographed copies from the author, go to: https://www.fredcolby.com/buy-books

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