No. It’s difficult enough being myself without pretending to be someone else or believing (as one does with Imposter Syndrome) that I’m not as “good” as others think I am. In fact, the question of “internalizing accomplishments” is kind of strange because every achievement is the end of a quest. Anyone who’s achieved anything knows that.
It’s a common disconnect among people though I don’t think dogs or other animals suffer from it, except, perhaps, Dusty. Dusty — a classic example of an adult in continual recovery from early childhood trauma — does not have an easy time with normal things most dogs are confident about. About half the time, he still squats to pee, even though he’s a large, long-legged dog with the ability to lift his leg like a Russian ballet star. Only lately has he relaxed within his inner self enough to actually play, you know, P-L-A-Y.
Dusty explained this to me, “Until Bear came, I was afraid to play because I was beaten severely when I was a puppy, as you know. Puppies play and I thought I was being beaten for all the things puppies do, so I resolved to be very, very grown up all the time so you would love me. But after Bear came, and I saw you play with her, I realized that you wouldn’t have beaten me when I was a small puppy. I decided to try to play with her because I really wanted to, anyway.”
It went well. When Dusty broke out of his shell and was himself, he had a lot of fun and got substantial approval from me.
He doesn’t know it, but one of the most challenging aspects of his little personality is that he’s so tense and worries so much about who he is. It RADIATES. Faking it all the time causes him to — sometimes — behave badly because it has kept him from learning important boundaries such as, off leash, hearing, ‘Go! Run! Play!’ means he’s free to run and play. On leash, or with the command ‘Stay with me,’ means, ‘Walk with Martha.’ If he never runs and plays, he never learns either command.
I’ve spent all of Dusty’s lifetime trying to convince him he’s a good dog. BUT…sometimes he isn’t, and I have to let him know. If he gets reprimanded, he can’t take it in stride. He turns into a quivering mass of large, black, muscular Doberman mix. And I admit; sometimes I get very frustrated with him.
Challenging as Dusty is sometimes, I know he always tries his best to do well. I know he’s scared, and I know how much courage it takes him to do any new thing. I know his mission in life is to make me happy and keep me safe. He is loving and affectionate to anyone who comes inside the circle of our lives. Dusty has a heart as big as the world.