May 13, 2024
3 min

Imposter Syndrome & Caregiving

Imposter Syndrome
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Imposter syndrome, the feeling of inadequacy or self-doubt despite evidence of success, can be particularly prevalent among Sandwich-Generation caregivers due to the unique challenges they face. Sandwiched between their growing children and their growing-older parents, these caregivers often have a nagging sense of responsibility when it comes to being all to everyone and providing for them physically as well as emotionally and mentally. 

Imposter syndrome is a term that we often equate with business, however caregivers have a deep sense of feeling like they are “just keeping things together” even though they may have years of experience and sometimes even alternative experience that they can draw from to get things done. 

Remember, most family caregivers have no training and use what they can to make caring for their loved ones, both young and old, successful. 

Here's how imposter syndrome may manifest in this group of caregivers:

1. Feeling Inadequate in Caregiving Roles: Sandwich-Generation caregivers may doubt their ability to effectively care for both aging parents and dependent children, especially when faced with complex medical or emotional needs. They may compare themselves to others who seem to handle similar responsibilities effortlessly, leading to feelings of inadequacy.

Social media does not help this group as it only showcases the positive aspects of caregiving. However, everyone struggles with very similar aspects.

2. Balancing Multiple Roles: Juggling caregiving responsibilities along with other life demands such as work and personal commitments can exacerbate feelings of imposter syndrome. Caregivers may worry that they are not performing well in any of their roles, leading to self-doubt and anxiety.

In addition, caregivers often need to take a leave of absence from their employment in order to be the main caregiver, leaving them with a feeling of defeat, that they couldn’t “do it all”.

3. Perceived Expectations: Sandwich-Generation caregivers may feel pressure to live up to societal or familial expectations of being the "perfect" caregiver, parent, and employee simultaneously. This pressure can fuel imposter syndrome as they fear they are falling short of these expectations.

Often, the pressure this group puts on themselves to meet the perceived expectations is greater than any potential, actual expectations. By continuing to try and meet these perceived expectations, caregivers approach burnout much quicker.

4. Comparisons with Others: Constantly comparing themselves to other caregivers, who may appear to be managing their responsibilities more effectively, can intensify feelings of imposter syndrome. Caregivers may underestimate their own abilities and overlook their accomplishments, focusing instead on perceived shortcomings.

Understanding that it is ok not to do all the things, all the time is often not an option for these caregivers. Running full out to compete with what they feel society as a whole is doing often means burning themselves in the process.

5. Lack of Recognition: Sandwich-Generation caregivers may not receive the recognition or support they need from others, leading them to question their worth and competence. Without validation for their efforts, they may internalize feelings of imposterism and struggle to acknowledge their achievements.

Additionally, it can also feel very lonely if you do not receive any or little recognition from close family leading caregivers to believe that no one notices or cares about their efforts.

Addressing imposter syndrome among Sandwich Generation caregivers requires a combination of self-awareness, self-compassion, and support from others. Encouraging caregivers to recognize and celebrate their successes, seeking professional help if needed, and fostering a supportive environment where they feel valued and appreciated can help alleviate feelings of imposter syndrome and promote overall well-being.

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