I’m a fake. I’m a fraud. I’ve fooled them into thinking I’m smarter than I am. They’ll find out sooner or later. I don’t deserve this success. I’m not smart enough to have this role. I’m not as smart as them…
I remember… having these sorts of thoughts during school. I had great grades, won prizes and scholarships throughout secondary school and uni, but there was always the thought in the back of my mind: “How can they seriously think I’m smart? How have they been fooled?”.
I remember… getting 100% on a history exam in high school, and thinking: “yeah, but she [the teacher] pretty much told us what we needed to know. I didn’t get 100% because I’m intelligent. It was obvious”.
I remember… having really ‘smart’ friends and boyfriends studying Arts/Law, medicine, and other courses you had to be ‘smart’ to get into, and wondering why they wanted to hang out with me, because I wasn’t smart like them.
I remember… getting great operatic roles early on, with good companies, and wondering why they thought I was good enough for the role. I mean, seriously? How could they possibly think I was good enough? I must have fooled them, somehow…
It makes me laugh now – kind of.
The first research was focused on high-achieving women, but more recent research shows that men suffer from it just as much as women do. It’s not limited to a certain demographic.
Just last week a friend told me how a recently hired (and 3 weeks later fired) receptionist clearly sabotaged her job, saying to my friend afterwards: “It’s just not me. I knew I wouldn’t last. I told my friends it was just a temporary position.” Now that’s an extreme example, but almost all of us have felt like a fraud at some point or other, and almost all of us have self-sabotaged in some way or other because of it.
If you are one of the many who has felt like a fraud and imposter, consider these three things.
It’s not the truth. That little voice telling you you’re a fake and fraud is NOT telling you the truth.
It’s the result of unconscious programming from when you were young. It can even be intergenerational.
It can be changed. Good news!
Most of us have heard about neuroplasticity and the malleability of the brain. Picture the old, wizened “I’m a fraud” gremlin traveling down that neural highway in your brain as it spouts its nonsense in your head. Yes – that “I’m a fraud” belief is a well-trodden pathway in your brain. No more, no less.
Knowing that the “you’re a fraud” voice you hear in your head is just an old, wizened unconscious programme gremlin sitting on your shoulder and spouting falsity and nonsense, can help you to stop identifying with it. It can help you be more self-aware, and less affected by those thoughts and feelings.
On the other hand, imagine… feeling no self-doubt – only profound self-belief. Imagine knowing you’re the equal of any person and any challenge. Imagine knowing you deserve all the success you want in whichever areas of your life you choose. Imagine that sense of inner strength, calm, confidence… Just imagine.
It’s more than possible. We all need to tweak ourselves every now and again, but self-confidence and self-belief are much more than possible. They’re the truth of you. So stop identifying with that gremlin voice, and know your brilliance.