If you haven’t watched the movie ‘Yesterday,’ you are missing out on a very charming movie which typifies the experience of someone who has Impostor Syndrome. Everything about the main character, Jack, is something anyone with this affliction can relate to.
Jack the Impostor
The movie starts innocently enough with our hero, Jack, being hit by a bus while riding his bike during a worldwide power blackout. He is certainly a victim of trauma, and realizes much to his disbelief that no one else he is aware of recognizes who the Beatles are, or is familiar with their music. He decides he wants to make everybody aware of their music, so he starts playing all their songs, recording them, and finally gets discovered by a big agent in America (Jack lives in England, just like the Fab Four did). He doesn’t appear to even think that the fame and adulation he is starting to receive is deserved, and this is typical of anyone who has Impostor Syndrome. The only difference is people with this problem usually aren’t in the spotlight like rock stars are, but they really don’t feel like they deserve the success that they do.
As Time Goes On, ‘The Discovery’ Is Inevitable
Much of the movie involves Jack relaunching his career in music, which has been flagging ever since he left his teaching job where his friend, Ellie, still teaches at. He is suddenly caught up in fame beyond his wildest dreams and is haunted by the realization that there are at least a few others who also know who the Beatles are. This is typical of those who have Impostor Syndrome: they feel they will inevitably be found out and exposed for who they fear they are deep down inside. There is a fear of being a fake or a sham, despite not having any pretense about themselves.
Shame is Often the Core of the Matter
This fear of being exposed as a fraud is at its heart an experience of shame. When Jack gets his big moment to perform at the biggest performance of his life, he is gripped by a fear that he will be exposed. The way he handles this is truly charming and touching, but others who aren’t in a Hollywood movie don’t always handle things with so much aplomb. They often turn down promotions or can also thwart their own success unwittingly because of shame. What needs to happen instead of giving into shame is that the individual needs to be able to focus on being grateful for their success instead. That sounds simple, but for folks who suffer from Impostor Syndrome and the toxic shame that relates to it this can be a gargantuan challenge. For fear is at the heart of impostor syndrome, and if it is gripping enough, it can drown out any gratitude that would seek to dispel it. If those who suffer from toxic shame have had abusive or neglectful childhoods, this can be practically impossible to shake on one’s own.
Help Is Out There
If you suffer from the toxic shame that characterizes this issue, professional help like that I’ve been providing to my clients for over 10 years now can be exactly what you need to shake it. I have helped many, many people who’ve struggled with the shame that characterizes Impostor Syndrome, and I can tell you that the vast majority of those who are sincere about wanting to get past it do recover. They are able to enjoy their successes and stop being their worst enemy, because the one they fear most will expose them as frauds lurks inside of them. I can help you to be your best friend instead of your most feared enemy. Don’t take my word for it though. Call me at 512-374-0100, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can simply fill out the form below. I offer free 15-minute phone consults where you can get an idea if I can help you with your own experience of toxic shame. If nothing else, hopefully you will go watch a really good movie and feel better for having done so!
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents 14 and up in private practice. His new e-book is entitled Life’s Lessons from the Young and the Old and is available for purchase on Amazon.
Click here to learn more about how Scott can help you with depression.