Shrink Rap: Dr. Paul On The Imposter Syndrome!

A Telluride local, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is an internationally recognized expert on treating clinical issues at the nexus of relationships and behavioral health. Dr. Paul’s book,Fragile Power.” is about the psychological challenges of celebrity and power, Go here for our review.

Last week, Dr. Paul was asked by FinitoWorld, the U.K.’s leading employment news channel, to address what is known as the Imposter Syndrome and to provide a roadmap to help us move out of it.

As he wrote in “Fragile Power” (Hazelden, 2019), the Imposter Syndrome describes a chronic and persistent feeling that we are a fraud, not good enough and that we’re going to be shamed for our incompetence. If you’ve ever had a dream that you’re naked, unprepared or can’t get where you need to go, chances are you suffer from it.

“The good news is there’s a way out. It starts with writing out your beliefs about success and your worthiness to receive it,” explains Dr. Paul.

For more, read on…

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Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Over the years, I’ve found it exists at both sides of the success bell curve. Most of the “failure to launch” patients I treat, people with great potential but who can’t quite get it together to pursue their dreams, suffer from it in equal measure to the people who present as ‘having it all’, crowing on about their talents and successes.

As I alluded to in the beginning of this article, the imposter syndrome manifests in people’s psyche on both the conscious and unconscious levels through messages they internalize along their developmental path and from the dominate culture that surrounds them. These messages turn into beliefs which in turn manifest in limiting and destructive behaviors. The net result is that the Imposter Syndrome constrains a person’s ability to enjoy peace of mind, to claim their rightful place in the world and to be seen as a human being of value and substance. It also prevents them from producing their best work by causing them to operate from a place of deficiency rather than abundance, weakness rather than strength.

In my work, I’ve found the most common signs of the imposter syndrome are as follows.

1. Having nightmares of being unprepared and shamed: Chances are that if you’ve ever had a dream where you can’t get to where you need to go, find it’s time for an exam for which you’re totally unprepared or shamed in some other way for being deficient or not fitting in you suffer from IS.

2. An inability to accept and hold a compliment: People who suffer from IS find it difficult to accept complements with grace. Rather than saying ‘thank you’ for praise directed their way they feel uncomfortable by it and discount or deflect it.

3. Feeling their success is based on luck rather than talent: Generally, people who attain success express gratitude for the events outside of their control that added to it. But people who suffer from IS discount and discard their hard work, talent, grit and resilience in attaining their goal.

4. Deflecting their success on to someone or something else: Humility and graciousness are important, but so is owning one’s accomplishments. Success doesn’t occur in isolation. Other people, places and things, play significant roles in success, but people who suffer from IS disregard their hard work, innate talent and drive in its attainment.

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Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Dr. Paul L. Hokemeyer is a fellow in the Global Leaders in Healthcare program at Harvard Medical School and author of “Fragile Power: Why Having Everything is Never Enough.”

A licensed marriage and family therapist, consultant and author, he is one of the world’s foremost experts on resolving the complex, sensitive and highly nuanced issues that arise among the world’s most prominent families and is listed as one of the world’s top “Problem Solvers” in Tatler’s High Net Worth Address book.

Dr. Paul founded Drayson Mews International in London to provide direct services and strategic solutions to high profile and high performance individuals, couples and families around the world. His work in the realm of mental health and power has been utilized by the World Economic Forum and the Emirate of Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Paul has appeared regularly in a variety of media outlets including CNN, FOX News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Men’s and Women’s Health, and The Johns Hopkins Newsletter.

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