What To Do When You Feel Like You’re A Fraud

Emma is a bright woman with a unique selection of skills and past positions from which to draw on in her role as consultant to HR departments in mid-level companies. If you met her, you’d think she was at the top of her game and her life is great. But Emma has a secret that’s eating her up inside.

Kennie is a go-getter who seldom takes “no” for an answer which has awarded him the lifestyle many envy. But Kennie, too, has a secret problem that keeps him up nights.

Dai is just starting out in a new career. Even though he has a lot of enthusiasm and has taken all the training that’s available, he suffers from the same secret as Emma and Kennie and it’s preventing him from growing his business.

What Emma, Kennie and Dai all share in common are the ideas “I really don’t know what I’m doing”, “but that person does”, “if someone finds out, I’ll be out a job”.

Most dangerous, however, is the idea “I’m the only one who feels this way, there must be something wrong with me”.

Have you ever felt like you really didn’t know what you were doing, like other people had it “together” and knew what to do? Or that if someone found out what’s really going on inside of you, they wouldn’t hire you, wouldn’t buy from you, wouldn’t pay you to do what you’re advertising as your service?

And worst of all, have you felt “alone”, like you must be the only one who felt this way, because everyone else is busily going about their business showing none of the signs of the stress you feel?

Well if you can see yourself in Emma, Kennie or Dai, you’re going to love what I have next; 3 easy and highly effective tips to help you overcome feeling like a “fraud” and on your way to a more authentic confidence!

But first, let’s take a closer look at what creates this feeling of being a fraud and being the only one who feels that way.

Let me start by saying, you are most certainly not alone.

In fact, feeling this way is the price of changing….and being human!

It’s not just Emma, Kennie and Dai who feel this way. And it’s not just you who may sometimes feel this way, but most adult humans; certainly those who are going through some change in their lives, whether by design or circumstance.

You may think you have proof that others know what to do and you don’t, thus making you a fraud, but it simply isn’t true. Anyone who is in the process of changing will experience discomfort as they change from who they were to who they want to become.

But why, then, do you feel like a fraud?

Well here’s why; you really have no way of seeing yourself except through the feedback and references you get from others. You can’t “look back at yourself” the way someone from the outside would, without privy to your inner dialogue, taking you at face value.

So you don’t seem quite solid to yourself to begin with, not in the same way others seem to when you look out and observe them from behind your own eyes.

When you feel insecure but (like you were trained to…), “talk a good game” or try to “look good” and that’s met at face value by those outside of you, then some part of you realizes the way you feel and the way people treat you are not in alignment with what you think you know to be true and that nasty inner critic can start giving you a hard time. So it whispers in your ear, “they don’t know the real you and would treat you differently if they only knew (your dirty little secret that you don’t really know what you’re doing)”.

This is what creates that sense of being a fraud, of being less real.

On the other hand, when you look out at other people, seeing and believing them to be solid; real, you probably take them at face value and assume (because you’re not in their inner world with them) that they are in alignment, which you can then take to mean that they are as confident or solid inside as you think you’re seeing them outside.

But what if (hint, hint…it’s true) they actually are feeling uncertain inside and just as much of a fraud as anyone, as everyone else!

Well that brings me to the topic of what to do if you sometimes feel like a fraud.

Remember you are not alone, become aware that others do feel like this too.

I guarantee it. I’ve worked with 1000s of entrepreneurs from a variety of industries and I see and hear about their stories of feeling alone, feeling like a fraud, all the time.

It’s one of the first things we look at, this inner critic mechanism and it’s siren’s song of fraud and failure.

Use this information for good.

When you confront this critical feeling, inside yourself, and see it for what it really is, just the inner critic trying to sabotage and derail you from the changes you want to make, you can put yourself in your clients’ shoes and understand that they may be feeling alone, uncertain, and afraid to make another decision, just like you.

When you are accepting of being right where you are, within yourself, can you extend that out to be accepting of where your potential client is?

To the extent you can, you create a circle of safety and well-being that others may not see, but will certainly feel, even if they are not consciously aware of it. Your business dealings will have a new level of genuine connection when you can carry this understanding into your business dealings.

Remind yourself (often) that when you feel the most alone, the most “out of sorts” is often the time when you are changing the most.

The process of true change is often misunderstood, resulting in that inner critic bullying you back to where you started, thus providing evidence (or so it tells you) that everyone but you can change and that there’s something wrong with you. But don’t you fall prey to it’s tactics to keep you stuck in your current box!

Remember what you set about to change in your life and remind yourself that the discomfort you feel is in actuality, powerful evidence that the change is occurring.

Finally, get support.

That inner critic is a slippery fellow and can wear some subtle costumes. Having someone who understands the change process and can help you see what is cause for concern, and what is really just that part that wants to pull you back down to where you started, can make the difference in success or failure.

Think back on the times you successfully created a change in your life. What supported you in completing that change? A mentor, a friend, who listened and offered feedback when requested?

A group of individuals committed to supporting and holding one another accountable?

A tool like regular progress reports or metrics designed to help you account for and acknowledge positive changes?

When you feel like a fraud

  1. Remember you’re not alone.
  2. Remember you’re in the middle of a change you wanted, you set in motion, and your discomfort is evidence that you’re changing.
  3. Use your understanding and empathy to build better relationships.

The very thing that feels so awful, feels so isolating, can be the very thing that brings you closer to others, that creates more momentum in the direction you want. Take heart!

After working with Emma, Kennie and Dai, to design the structures and resources to keep them remembering what they are doing right, doing well and what they still have to enthusiastically step forward into, each of them in their own way is now moving through their changes more rapidly and easily.

Kennie spends more quality time, guilt free with his kids. Dai may be the freshest member of his team, but he’s skyrocketing up the sales charts by connecting deeply with his clients needs and his own sense of enthusiasm. And Emma is finally allowing herself more time to care for her health and relationships outside of the office while still maintaining her income level, which means her clients are getting a better service and value from her.

Imagine what else you could do with the energy that goes into worrying about being less than, alone, a fraud? Imagine instead, feeling connected, triumphant as you overcome that inner critic and stand proud for the changes that you have earned for yourself!

And when you’re ready, if you want help with that, I’m here to assist at thebeingcoach.com


I’d love to hear how you used this information in your own life. Please comment below. And listen to my radio interview on this topic: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yourownuniversityradio/2015/10/08/its-your-turn-radio-show-deborah-ivanoff








Comments (2)

  • Dan Grant

    Hi Deborah,
    I like what you said about accepting and extending your own doubts/misgivings outward and empathizing with your client’s (or any valuable relationship’s) doubts and fears to create a circle of safety. Great Stuff!

    • Deborah Ivanoff

      Thank you Dan. I’d love to bust this myth, that it’s “only me”, wide open; so we can better support one another in moving forward to what we’re here to do!