165: From Self-Doubt to Confidence – Conquering Common Mindset Blocks

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In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, we talk about 3 mindset blocks that RD’s commonly struggle with and how to address them in your practice. We chat about 1. When a desire to help people starts to feel...

In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, we talk about 3 mindset blocks that RD’s commonly struggle with and how to address them in your practice. We chat about 1. When a desire to help people starts to feel draining, 2. Imposter syndrome, and how to know if you’re actually an imposter and 3. Perfectionist tendencies that are stopping you from feeling like the superstar that you are. 

If you’ve found yourself asking the following questions, this episode is for you: 

  • What do I do if a client isn’t making any progress? Does that mean I’ve failed as a practitioner? 
  • How do I feel like less of an imposter going into counseling sessions? 
  • What if a counseling session doesn’t go perfectly, or what if it even feels like it went poorly, does that mean I’ve failed? 


Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Dietitian Success Podcast. Here at Dietitian Success Center, we’re all about making it easier for you to build your confidence and expertise. So, whether you’re a dietitian or a dietetic student, we’ve got something for you. I’m Krista, your host and the founder of DSC. Now, are you ready to ditch the imposter syndrome and join our incredible, vibrant community?

If so, let’s jump in.

 Hey there and welcome to a new episode of the dietitian success podcast. In this episode, we decided to actually take a lesson from our nutrition counseling and coaching certificate of completion program, which if you’ve been listening to. The podcast regularly, you know, that we’re just getting ready to relaunch that program.

So we’re opening it up for enrollment at the end of March. Uh, 2024. So just depending on when you’re listening to this. Um, and so we thought, Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we took one of the lessons from that course and just turned it into a podcast episode. Uh, just to give folks an idea of some of the content that’s within the program. But also the reason why we chose this topic is actually because we think it, regardless of whether you’re interested in the course or not, and that’s cool if you’re not.

Uh, but I actually think that this topic really has a way wider reach. I think that it can, has the potential to resonate with everyone, regardless of your area of practice, regardless of your needs. We all have mindset stuff that we deal with. Uh, so I hope that you listen to this episode and there’s moments where you can be like, Hey yeah, me too.

And maybe feel a little bit better that you are not alone in some of those feelings, because I think back to myself as, particularly as a new practitioner, and that’s really where these ideas came from, right. Is all of us brainstorming on, like, what were those feelings that we had. Um, working with patients and clients, like what were those mindset?

Things that would come up that were often really uncomfortable? And so hopefully this podcast episode is helpful for you regardless of where you’re at in practice. And if you are interested in the nutrition, counseling and coaching program, then more information about it can be found in the description of this podcast episode. Uh, make sure that if you are interested in it, you do join the wait list.

Um, there’s a link to join the wait list again, below this podcast episode, because we actually only open up enrollment to people that are on the wait list and you get a promo code. If you’re on the wait list. All right. So with that, I hope that you enjoy this episode.

We’re going to start this module and ultimately this course by talking about a really, really important concept, and that is the counseling mindset for you, the practitioner. As part of this course, we actually conducted a survey before we created the course content to understand the main learning needs of practitioners.

And no surprise, a lot of the challenges that practitioners experience are with regard to mindset. So, for example, what do I do if a client isn’t making any progress? What best does that mean? I’ve. failed them as a practitioner? Or how do I feel like less of an imposter going into a counseling or a coaching session?

What if a counseling session doesn’t go perfectly? Or what if it even feels like it went poorly? Does that mean that I failed? Does that mean that I’m bad at my job? And so we wanted to start with this really important conversation around mindset. Now, a common mindset block that we’re going to start with, and you can let us know if this is something that resonates with you too, is just this overwhelming desire to help.

And in fact, a feeling of failure if you feel that you haven’t been effective. This can also manifest as feeling frustrated if a client isn’t getting results. Does that feel familiar at all? Now in the world of psychology, this is actually often referred to as something called the savior complex, which has been defined as a psychological construct, which makes a person feel the need to save other people.

This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them. And this is maybe the most important part, often sacrificing their own needs for these. people. So how might the savior complex look for nutrition practitioners? Well, some examples here, feeling like you can be the one to change someone else, always needing to find a solution for another person, making personal sacrifices like boundaries or time, feeling like you’ve personally failed.

If someone isn’t making progress, let’s run through a couple examples of what this could look like in a patient or client scenario. So let’s just imagine you’re counseling a client who has chronic kidney disease, and they are really worried about having to go on dialysis. You as a practitioner feel this strong urge to rescue them from this situation.

So you suggest a strict diet to fix the situation. You schedule multiple appointments per week with them, even though this isn’t your typical appointment schedule. And you have this overwhelming need to kind of take control of the situation. And maybe you even feel personally responsible for their actions.

This could be a sign of a savior complex. Another example. Imagine you’re counseling a client who has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease and they’re struggling to adhere to a gluten free diet. So, you know, you’ve provided them with comprehensive guidance and resources, but you find yourself consumed with worry about their dietary choices.

You begin to obsessively think about their well being. You constantly check in on them, perhaps, maybe you even contemplate their situation outside of your work hours. You have this sort of intense need to rescue them from the potential consequences of consuming them. gluten, and maybe even feel personally responsible for their dietary compliance.

Maybe you feel like you’ve failed because they’re not doing what you’ve advised them to do. Again, this could indicate the savior complex. Now, the desire to help people is actually a huge reason why many of us got into our profession in the first place. And this in and of itself is not necessarily a negative characteristic, but when it’s attached to someone else’s behaviors and feelings, so that feeling like you can be the one to change someone else, this is where the issue.

lies. We need to be aware as practitioners that we are there to help facilitate change. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the patient or the client to actually make that change. We cannot control other people’s actions, period. End of story. It could even be helpful to both you and a client to set this expectation right off the bat in your counseling sessions.

So one of our RD contributors mentioned that they actually often outline roles with a client in an initial session. So they might say something like, so my role is to give you the information and tools that you need to make changes in your life, but how you choose to implement these tools is ultimately up to you.

So we’ll come back to this concept throughout this course as we talk about facilitating behavior change based on a client’s readiness and how we can utilize effective questions to challenge a client to take action.

Now let’s talk about Imposter syndrome. One way that imposter syndrome has been defined is as feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. So, maybe feeling a lot of self doubt, feeling like you’re a fraud. You may feel like you need to be perfect and you need to know everything. You may feel totally insecure when you graduate from your internship or your practicum and you’re feeling like you just have no idea what you’re doing.

Who let you be a practitioner operating on your own? And funny enough, imposter syndrome is actually often most common in individuals who are highly trained and highly educated. And so interestingly, feeling like an imposter is actually a result of our brains wanting to make sure that we’ve quote unquote checked all the boxes.

If we’re in an uncomfortable and new situation. So it’s sort of this form of self protection that can also be really detrimental to our overall mental health and feelings of competence. So let’s go through, again, a couple examples.

Let’s say you receive a referral for a client who you notice is actually a medical doctor. And despite you having extensive training in nutrition and successfully helping numerous clients achieve their health and nutrition goals, you find yourself doubting your abilities. You worry that you might not have all of the answers or that your client won’t see the expected results.

You know, maybe they’ll see through you. They’ll feel like you’re a fraud. These self doubts and the feeling of not measuring up in your role as a nutrition counselor are often signs of, of course, imposter syndrome. Let’s go through another example. Imagine you’ve been working as a contractor for a renowned nutrition practitioners private practice for several years.

You have extensive training, you have certifications, you have even received numerous positive reviews and testimonials from clients that you’ve helped. However, before each counseling session, you question whether you’re capable of providing valuable guidance to your clients. Even after sessions where clients express satisfaction and gratitude, you are still overwhelmed with satisfaction.

Self-doubt. Maybe during discovery calls with potential clients, you often find yourself recommending that they even see other nutrition practitioners on the team instead of you , despite knowing that you know you have the knowledge, you have the experience to help, but you can’t shake this feeling that you’re just not good enough.

Okay, so how do we work through these feelings of imposter syndrome as practitioners? Well, experts in psychiatry suggest the following tips. Number one, learn the facts. In the context of nutrition care, it’s important to take a step back and recall how far we’ve come in our education and or training. And I absolutely love this quote.

This is something that resonates with me. And I think about it all the time when I start to feel imposter syndrome, popping in, Amy Porterfield, who is a course creator in the online business space. She has famously said, you only need to know 10 percent more than someone in order to teach them something.

So let’s consider. When you’re working with patients or clients, how much more knowledge do you have? You’ve gone through perhaps years of education and training. does that qualify as 10 percent more? I certainly, certainly think so, right? You only need to be one step ahead realistically in order to teach somebody something.

You are many, many, many, many, many steps ahead than the average client or patient that you’re going to be working with. So just remember that stress and learn the facts, focus on the facts. Number two is knowing that you’re not alone. So understanding that, you know, a lot of other people feel this exact same way.

And actually research suggests that 82 percent of people experience imposter syndrome. Many people in the online world have discussed the idea that in reality, if you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, likely you aren’t one. Um, so, you know, people who don’t feel imposter syndrome are often people who have nothing to lose, people who have a delusional perception of themselves, and people who are genuine narcissists or con artists.

And so, you know, this feeling of imposter syndrome generally means that you’re not an imposter. Next is celebrating successes. Even if they feel small, take some time to focus on things that went well instead of things that didn’t go so well. So when applied back to a counseling scenario, this might mean for both you and the client.

focusing more on the journey instead of the end result. So what actions have been done over the course of working together? What changes have been made over time and turning those into the measure of success instead of, you know, specific blood values or biometric measures. Next is just letting go of perfectionism and embracing a growth mindset.

We’re going to talk about that in a minute. And lastly, is Or second last rather is cultivating self compassion. Um, so in the workbook, there’s a section on affirmations. We’ve given you a list of positive affirmations that you can utilize to embrace positive self talk and self compassion. So make sure and visit this activity after watching this.

lesson. Another thing that can be really helpful is just sharing your failures with colleagues and coworkers. Even if it feels vulnerable, be open around failures, be open around things that maybe make you feel, you know, a little uneasy or a little uncomfortable. This helps others feel safe to open up about their own struggles as well.

At the end of the day, we all have struggles, we all have failures, and then accepting it. When we’re thinking about imposter syndrome, much like anything in mental health, it’s never all or nothing. We don’t just get rid of negative feelings. Imposter syndrome is not just going away. They may come back or they may only come in different situations, different scenarios.

Maybe when you’re in a new scenario, maybe when you’re challenging yourself, you find that feelings of imposter syndrome are stronger, but helping to build awareness around these feelings, why they’re there and how we can manage them is really the important factor. The last mindset block that we want to discuss is a concept called a growth mindset.

Basically a growth mindset is in opposition to the mindset blocks that we’ve discussed so far. As well as the concept of perfectionism. Perfectionism assumes that we will eventually reach a finish line, right? And when we get there, we will finally be perfect. As I’m sure many of us have realized, perfection is an unattainable goal.

It’s always a moving target. We achieve a goal. And then we find ourselves wanting to reach that next goal, or, you know, maybe we get somewhere in terms of our career path that we’ve wanted to get to for a long time. And when we’re there, we think, well, you know, wouldn’t it be great if I just had this, right.

Or maybe we learned something new. And in that process, we actually realize how much more there is to learn. Perfection keeps us feeling like we’re never enough. And so instead of trying to achieve. perfection, the goal should be to adopt what we call a growth mindset in which we view ourselves as constant works in progress.

And so a growth mindset requires that we shift our beliefs from this concept that we view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning versus. threats. Recognizing that expertise is something that’s developed with time and experience. It’s not something you can just force.

Recognizing that mistakes are opportunities for growth versus failure. Viewing situations that are unfamiliar to you as opportunities to expand and grow as practitioners versus something that need to be, the things that need to be avoided. Um, this idea that, you know, I can’t do this job versus I believe in my ability to prepare myself for that job.

And a growth mindset requires us to shift from the idea of I don’t know that to I don’t know that yet, but I believe in my ability to learn. So to put this into perspective, consider what a growth mindset looks like for your client. Let’s imagine a situation where you’ve been counseling a client to manage their diabetes through dietary changes, and they’ve made progress, but occasionally they see a quote unquote slip, you know, maybe they indulge, they see a big blood glucose spike.

And so instead of viewing this as a failure, you see it as an opportunity for growth and learning. You encourage your client to reflect on the situation where this happens to identify maybe situational or environmental triggers and strategize ways to handle similar situations better in the future, right?

We tend to have a bit of a double standard when it comes to our clients. versus ourselves. We don’t expect perfection from them. So why do we expect it from ourselves?

So to summarize, three mindset blocks to reflect on as you’re going through this course and working with patients or clients. Number one, your role is not to be a savior. You do not have control over other people’s. behaviors or actions. Number two is understanding that imposter syndrome is a normal psychological phenomenon that can be challenged in a healthy way.

And number three is letting go of perfectionism and embracing a growth mindset. So as a next step, we’ve given you a list of 20 affirmations in the workbook section titled affirmations. What you’re going to do is you’re going to select Two or three that resonate with you. I want you to write them on a sticky note and post them beside your workstation or somewhere that you can see them daily.

Get in the habit of repeating them to yourself when you start your work day.

And if you feel like you’re struggling with your mindset, find a mental health professional that you can talk to. You should not have to suffer in your job. Taking care of you is taking care of your clients and your patients. And just remember that all of this stuff is so normal.

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