How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome when Caregiving for Your Loved One

Woman removing garden of weeds symbolizing family caregiver weeding out unnecessary challenges and doubts.
Getty Images/SolStock

Imposter syndrome can be overwhelming when caregiving for a loved one. Here’s how long-term caregiver, Susanne White, overcomes self-doubt.

I am confident and skilled at many things, especially caregiving. I appear to sail through life knowing where I'm going and how to get there, with success waiting for me once I arrive.

I can make solid decisions without hesitation and do not panic in challenging situations. I would say my caregiving approach is “doer and action-taker.” I have gained wisdom from failure, risen from the ashes, and rarely retreated when confronted. I have a long list of accomplishments and remain a survivor through thick and thin.

Yet I will often lay awake at night thinking that soon I will be found out, someone will finally notice I don't know what I'm doing. The world will discover that I'm not this accomplished wonder of self-confidence. Instead, I am an imposter, clueless, useless, and a charade. Something disastrous will happen at my hand; those I care for will be injured or hurt, and the whole thing will fall apart because of me.

This nagging worry and fear is imposter syndrome or imposter phenomenon, and it plagues so many of us. It chokes us and makes us feel bad about ourselves. It's a liar and a cheater and robs us of the ability to see how magical we truly are.

I use the following psychological tools to get out of the clutches of imposter syndrome. I use them to bolster me and return to the authentic, confident, divine person I know and love.

5 Ways to combat imposter syndrome as a caregiver

1. Listen to self-talk

I listen to the chatter in my head. I'm often appalled when I stop, stand back, and hear what I'm saying to myself. I would never say to someone else the things I say to myself. I've heard it said our inner voice is like having an awful roommate in our minds who is mean and destructive.

Awareness of that self-critical voice allows me to change it. I flip the switch, actively bringing forth good memories of people thanking me for being kind, caring, compassionate, and committed.

I list what I have accomplished throughout my life, day, or even the last hour. Instead of berating myself, I give myself credit. Instead of questioning my abilities, I review and honor my abilities. Instead of second-guessing myself, I look at the intelligent, caring decisions I've made on my journey. I remind myself of the loving way I move forward despite the challenges.

I may have to do this several times a day, but it is well worth every effort I make.

2. Focus on the thing in front of you 

Rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, I concentrate on what I'm doing in the here and now. Unhelpful thoughts will try to break my concentration, but I persist with mindfulness and dig deep.

I can come out of my thoughts when paying attention to a task. I can do a better job with everything I touch, and my mind is engaged in action, not distraction.

3. Let go of perfectionism

I don't need to be perfect to be effective. I have already done a terrific job by showing up and my willingness to move forward. I would love everything tied up in a beautiful package with a neat bow, but life doesn't work that way.

I'm doing the best I can. I care about what I'm doing and am a good person.

4. Share your doubts and feelings

I know this may be hard, but don't be afraid to tell those you trust that you are doubting yourself.

I am pleasantly surprised at the positive response when I open up to friends and family, especially those who are also caregivers. It feels so good to receive heartfelt support from someone who sees me as a caregiving champion and tells me so! If they think I'm doing a great job, I must be!

5. Set yourself up for success

Finally, consider that it's not always YOU that's "lacking." You may actually be lacking the support you need to succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

When we're constantly hitting roadblocks, it wears on us and makes us doubt our abilities. There could be (and usually are) some things in the way that make our caregiving feel close to impossible.

Instead of blaming or doubting ourselves, we must ensure we have what we need to succeed. Some outside influences, circumstances, or even peers aren't working in our best interests. Once you've identified them, weed these hindrances out as soon as possible. We must give ourselves a safe, positive environment that encourages us to do our best.

I still struggle with imposter syndrome at times. I always will, to some degree. However, when I'm kind to myself and follow the suggestions above, I come back down to earth. I'm ready to carry on, proudly and confidently, trying to make a difference for those I care for.

I hope I've given you some gentle reassurance with these tips. Remember, no one is as special as you are in the role you've taken on. You know what you are doing, and everyone around you is better for it. You are capable, accountable, and magnificent. Imposters need not apply!

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 


I found this article:

Share this article:

You might also be interested in...

Who Cares for the Carers?

By Teva
Read more
Man and daughter playing with dolls as a fun caregiving preparation activity

How Should We Raise the Next Generation of Caregivers?

By Marc Lawrence
Read more