Moment 133 Behaviour Change Scientist Reveals A Simple Solution To Imposter Syndrome Shahroo Izadi

Summary Notes


In a candid conversation about overcoming impostor syndrome and building self-worth, the host delves into these complex issues with their guest, a practitioner experienced in helping individuals confront and manage such challenges. The guest emphasizes the importance of acknowledging personal difficulties and reframing them as opportunities for growth, rather than as indicators of weakness. They discuss the significance of self-compassion and firmness in habit change, and the utility of creating realistic plans that reflect one's true self. The guest also advocates for understanding the root causes of behaviors like binge eating or substance abuse, rather than merely addressing the symptoms, and suggests practical strategies such as adding friction to unwanted habits to facilitate change.

Summary Notes

Impostor Syndrome

  • Impostor syndrome is characterized by an inability to internalize accomplishments and feelings of being a fraud.
  • Speaker B has personally managed impostor syndrome by addressing binge eating and anxiety.
  • Speaker B observes that giving oneself permission to find certain tasks difficult, regardless of their simplicity, can have a significant impact.
  • There is often shame and guilt associated with not mastering certain aspects of life, which hinders individuals from acknowledging their successes without caveats.
  • Speaker B mentions the importance of integrity and trust in oneself, even when no one is watching, and how that affects all areas of life.

"For impostor syndrome, essentially not being able to internalize your accomplishments, feeling like a fraud, which I've had managing my binge eating and my anxiety differently, helped me change my impostor syndrome for the better, and I'm seeing why that is now I've just started working."

This quote explains that Speaker B's personal experience with impostor syndrome was improved by addressing other issues such as binge eating and anxiety, suggesting a connection between personal struggles and feelings of inadequacy.

"When people give themselves permission to find whatever they find difficult, whatever it is, even if it's subjectively far more simple than all the things they're managing to do every day, something extraordinary happens."

Speaker B notes that acknowledging one's difficulties, no matter how trivial they may seem, can lead to a profound positive change, implying that acceptance is a key step in overcoming impostor syndrome.

"People don't know how I behave when no one's watching. And that bit, that's what drags people down. It doesn't let them really internalize and process their capacity..."

This quote highlights that the fear of being judged based on one's private actions can prevent individuals from fully appreciating their own abilities and successes.


  • Self-worth is a recurring theme in the context of impostor syndrome and personal struggles.
  • Marissa Pierre, as mentioned by Speaker A, observed that none of her patients, regardless of their success, felt that they were enough.
  • The discussion suggests that at the core of many personal issues is a fundamental lack of belief in one's own value.

"I remember sitting with Marissa Pierre, and she said that she's never had a patient, whether they were a sports star or a successful millionaire or whatever, that believed they were enough in terms of her patients."

Speaker A recounts Marissa Pierre's experience with patients who, despite their accomplishments, did not feel sufficient in themselves, indicating a widespread issue of self-worth among successful individuals.

"I think self worth. Self worth is something that comes up a lot."

Speaker B agrees with the importance of self-worth, acknowledging its frequent emergence in discussions about personal issues, which reinforces the idea that feeling valued is central to overcoming psychological challenges like impostor syndrome.

Self-Worth and Behavior Change

  • Acknowledgment of one's low self-worth as a starting point for change.
  • The desire to change self-destructive behaviors such as excessive drinking and substance use.
  • Establishing an honest baseline of current status through a snapshot letter.
  • The importance of planning for the person one currently is, rather than who they want to be.
  • The belief that individuals intrinsically know what to do to improve, but struggle with why they aren't doing it.
  • The gap between knowledge and action is a significant barrier to change.

"It's clear that I have my self worth is in the proverbial bin. I just think I'm a fucking useless, worthless, don't deserve anything." This quote captures the speaker's admission of low self-worth, which is a crucial step in acknowledging the need for personal change.

"I want to change this behavior." The speaker expresses a desire to change specific behaviors, indicating a readiness to work towards self-improvement.

"We would get an honest baseline of where you're at now." Speaker B emphasizes the need for a clear and honest assessment of the current situation as a foundation for building a plan for change.

"I think a lot of the time, we create plans for who we want to be as opposed to who we are." This quote highlights the common mistake of planning based on an idealized version of oneself rather than the current reality.

"You meet yourself and you get on board with who you meet." Speaker B suggests that accepting one's current self is a necessary step before embarking on a journey of change.

"I believe that the people who buy my books already know what to do." Speaker B asserts that people generally know what actions they should take to improve but lack understanding of why they aren't taking those actions.

Identifying and Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Action

  • Discussing the discrepancy between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
  • The feeling of patronization when being told what to do, despite knowing it already.
  • The use of self-reflection to identify the desired changes in one's life.
  • Recognizing the challenges in translating knowledge into action.

"I believe that a lot of people feel really patronized when they're told what to do." Speaker B acknowledges that being told what to do can be frustrating when individuals already know what they should be doing.

"I do know what I should be doing. I just can't do it." Speaker A recognizes the gap between knowledge and action, admitting the difficulty in implementing known strategies for change.

Reflecting on Past Attempts and Understanding the Fear of Change

  • Examination of previous unsuccessful attempts at change.
  • The punitive nature of past strategies, such as throwing out alcohol and attempting to control the environment.
  • The need to explore fears and doubts associated with change.
  • Understanding the emotional and psychological challenges that accompany the process of change.

"I've basically thrown all of the alcohol out my house... And then a week later, I'm back to all of the naughty habits." Speaker A reflects on past efforts to change, which were extreme and unsustainable, leading to a relapse into old behaviors.

"Did you establish what you're afraid you might have to experience if you change?" Speaker B highlights the importance of understanding the fears and doubts that can sabotage efforts to change.

"What self doubt are you going to have to push against and disprove and update along the way?" Speaker B points out the necessity of confronting and overcoming self-doubt throughout the process of change.

Anticipating Challenges and Preparing for Setbacks

  • The significance of anticipating potential triggers and planning how to respond differently.
  • The importance of preparing for the emotional and psychological challenges during the journey of change.
  • Recognizing that setbacks are a part of the process and should be anticipated.

"What triggers you going to have to respond to differently? These are the things people don't talk about." Speaker B emphasizes the need to identify and plan for triggers that could lead to a return to old behaviors.

"You should anticipate that in a week's time you're going to be able to focus on what's bad." Speaker B suggests that expecting challenges and setbacks is a realistic and necessary part of the process of change.

Preparation for Motivational Dips

  • Motivation is not constant and successful people are not always motivated.
  • One must prepare for the inevitable setbacks and relapses in life.
  • Preparing involves assuming that plans will not always work out.
  • Challenges should be reframed as opportunities to demonstrate capacity.
  • The internal conversation with oneself is crucial in these moments.
  • This conversation should balance firmness and compassion.

"I think the best bet you have is the conversation you have with yourself when your plans don't go to plan."

This quote emphasizes the importance of self-talk when facing unexpected challenges, suggesting that the way one converses with oneself during setbacks is key to overcoming them.

"You should assume that your plans will not go to plan."

This quote suggests the practical approach of expecting and preparing for disruptions in one's plans, indicating that flexibility and adaptability are important.

"The way that you do it is you start to reframe challenge as an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate your capacity."

Here, the speaker is advising to change one's perspective on challenges, viewing them as chances to prove one's abilities rather than as obstacles.

Balancing Kindness and Firmness in Habit Change

  • Changing habits involves dealing with discomfort, cravings, and urges.
  • There is a common misconception that being kind to oneself means indulging in whatever one wants.
  • True kindness involves making tough decisions for long-term benefits, like a parent deciding to stop giving an unhealthy treat to their child.
  • The process of change requires compassion for oneself while being firm and consistent in action.
  • The analogy with a child expecting a treat illustrates the balance of compassion and firmness needed in self-discipline.

"Very often people say to me, like, how can I hold kindness and firmness at the same time?"

This quote introduces the dilemma people face when trying to change habits—how to be self-disciplined while still treating oneself with kindness.

"Compassion. I know why you feel this way. Of course you feel this way. You deserve to feel this way. You scream all you want, babe. That doesn't mean I'm going to do what you want."

The speaker is illustrating how to express compassion towards oneself during the struggle of habit change, acknowledging the difficulty while maintaining resolve not to give in to immediate desires.

"That's the conversation you have with your body over and over again, where you hold compassion and firmness together until you've done it in a row, until it's easy."

This quote reinforces the strategy of repeatedly engaging in self-talk that is both understanding and resolute, until the new habit becomes easy or second nature.

Environmental Influence on Habit Formation

  • The environment can significantly impact one's ability to maintain or change habits.
  • Removing temptations from one's environment can aid in the process of habit change.
  • The struggle with environmental triggers is a common issue for many individuals.

"And does it help to remove. The kid wants the candy or whatever the thing the kid was expecting in the morning. Does it help to remove it from the environment?"

This incomplete quote brings up the question of whether altering one's environment, such as removing temptations, can facilitate habit change, suggesting that external factors play a role in one's ability to maintain discipline.

Trigger Management and Habit Formation

  • Discusses the impact of environmental cues on habits, specifically the temptation of sweets.
  • Explores the concept of removing triggers versus learning to coexist with them.
  • Highlights the psychological negotiation that occurs when facing temptations.
  • Emphasizes the importance of decision-making and self-control over one’s actions.

"I knew I didn't want to eat the sweets. But when something would happen, maybe it'd be late at night, I feel a bit hungry, maybe bit stressed, I'd end up in the drawer."

This quote reflects the struggle with environmental triggers that can lead to unwanted habits, such as late-night snacking on sweets.

"So at the core of my message is you decide what you do with your hands."

Speaker B emphasizes personal agency and the power of choice in managing one’s actions, even in the presence of temptations.

Strategies for Overcoming Temptations

  • Discusses the concept of adding friction to make unwanted behaviors more difficult.
  • Suggests creating “speed bumps” to encourage reflection before acting on a habit.
  • Speaker B provides personal examples of how they manage temptations, such as removing convenience from ordering food late at night or preparing for exercise by reducing barriers.

"I don't just delete deliveroo. Card details are out, addresses out. It's not because I don't trust myself. It's because I want to put in moments where I think, remember you didn't want to do this."

Speaker B shares a strategy of removing convenience to create a moment of reflection, which can prevent acting on an impulsive desire.

"I used to go to sleep in my gym kit. There was just one less thing to do."

This quote illustrates a method of reducing friction for desired behaviors, making it easier to follow through with positive habits.

Late-Night Eating and Its Consequences

  • Speaker A shares their personal struggle with late-night eating and the negative physical effects it has the following morning.
  • The discussion touches on the challenge of breaking the habit of late-night snacking.
  • Suggests that being proactive about hunger can be a simple yet effective approach.

"I do a lot of late night eating, and then I always regret it in the morning because you wake up feeling bad, especially if you've eaten just before you fall asleep."

Speaker A describes the personal consequences of late-night eating, highlighting the importance of managing this habit.

"Don'T be hungry at that time."

Speaker B offers a straightforward solution to late-night eating by suggesting to prevent hunger at those times, which could reduce the urge to snack.

The Complexity of Food Relationships

  • Recognizes the complexity of individuals’ relationships with food.
  • Acknowledges the psychological and emotional aspects of eating habits.
  • Critiques the overwhelming amount of conflicting nutritional advice and the pressure to be “good” or “bad” based on food choices.

"There's so many deep psychological stuff and we all have our own complex relationship with food and stuff."

Speaker B acknowledges the deep psychological factors and the individual complexities in people’s relationships with food.

"Conflicting nutritional advice, like it's got out of hand."

This quote highlights the confusion and frustration that can arise from the abundance of conflicting nutritional information available to the public.

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