What to Do When Self-Care Backfires

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With all the stress in the world, it's more important than ever to just look after No. 1 from time to time. Self-care means a lot of different things in all kinds of different circumstances, but every so often, it should really be about treating yourself. When we're lucky, that means indulging in something luxurious, something you wear or something you experience. There might be a downside, though, and it's all thanks to imposter syndrome.


The same fear that knocks you off-course in your work life can also impede the way you enjoy the finer things. Researchers at Boston College have just released a study looking at why some of us feel inauthentic while buying luxury goods. Craving fancy clothes, fabulous cars, and other signifiers of the high life is closely tied to a desire for status. If you're afflicted by wealth-related imposter syndrome, you may feel it's "out of character" to actually use the items you've bought — or indeed, that you don't deserve them at all.

The study is directed at marketing professionals, so you may see more high-end stores emphasizing "experiences and narratives that boost people's personal connection with products and possessions," which "can yield lasting benefits," as author Nailya Ordabayeva puts it. There's a cheaper way to beat back imposter syndrome, though: Without succumbing to self-justifications, simply remind yourself that you are allowed comfort and beauty, however you choose to find it. Luxuries don't define you (nor should they); instead, you get to choose and seek out what makes you feel best.