Imposter Syndrome (that feeling that you’re not as capable as others see you) really seems to hold women back more than men.
Why should that be?
Well, I have some theories.
Watch the video for the full exploration of why women seem to struggle with Imposter Syndrome more than men— where it comes from and why it’s so persistent.
From my own experience with clients, I’ve seen it come from personal experiences:
There was the client whose parents made it clear she was not supposed to outshine her brother.
Then there were the clients who created their own businesses after being passed over for promotion in favor of men one too many times.
And far too often, there was the implicit message (especially from their mothers) that they should not speak up, be seen, or stand out, that led them to doubt themselves.
There’s also the messages we’ve all gotten from growing up seeing boys and men in leadership roles in schools, sports, TV and movies, companies, government….
Well, you get the idea.
And all of these experiences set us women up to doubt ourselves, hold ourselves back, and step aside to let men do the leading.
That has to stop.
We need women to lead now more than ever.
(Look, I love men and happily work with some wonderful men who are doing important work in their lives and the world. But this message is for women.)
It’s time to step back from the competitive, Us v. Them, Win/Lose approaches that have brought so much suffering and limitation.
And I think women leaders are the answer.
So when you feel like you are called to do something bigger in the world, but you hold yourself back because you feel like you’re not good enough to do that, or someone else would be better, or “they’d find out you were a fraud” if you tried . . .
Don’t listen to that feeling.
It’s just a young part of you that learned that you were supposed to stay small so you’d be safe.
Staying small won’t really keep you safe. (You know that.)
It sure as hell won’t bring about the change that you are called to make in the world.
That only you can make!
And if your Imposter Syndrome is particularly loud and hard to ignore, tap on its messages. They aren’t true, and Tapping can help you realize that.
Because we need you to show up fully in the world, being the you that you are truly meant to be.
What you tell yourself has true power. Really. It’s like a magic spell, and not a good one. In this video you’ll hear some of the “spells” I and many other business owners have put on ourselves to prevent us from creating the businesses—and lives—we’re meant to have.
Of course, it’s not just business owners who have these kinds of negative spells running in our minds. As far as I can tell, everyone has at least some. They get called different things like: • Negative Self-talk • Limiting Beliefs • Cognitive Distortions • Inner Critic and more.
The thing is, these spells aren’t just harmless words, they actually hold you back from reaching your big goals.
In the video I tell you about one of my personal favorite negative spells (that slows down a lot of business owners) and what I did to change it.
I’ve countered my own spells, and you can, too. Watch to find out how.
Then really listen to what you tell yourself. You might be surprised. And when you’re ready to lift those negative spells you’ve put on yourself so you can create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
If lack of self-confidence is keeping you from going after the life you want, you have to meet Julie. She’s a smart woman with a mission to change the world.
When she began working with me, Julie was just starting her business providing Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) to children on the Autism Spectrum and their families. RDI helps children on the spectrum form personal relationships, develop the ability to think flexibly and improve their quality of life.
Julie was just finishing intensive training to be certified in using RDI. She knew it worked. She knew she could improve the lives of children and their families enormously. But she wasn’t getting her business out into the world. She was questioning herself, afraid to ask for money, and allowing herself to be stopped by fear. She was holding herself back.
So we got to work. Now she is able to speak about what she does much more naturally, without the fear. She is making connections that will help her reach more people. And she has clients starting with her.
As we worked together, the changes in her were so noticeable they even turned her husband from a skeptic about this weird EFT stuff I do into a fan who was happy to take over childcare whenever she had a session with me!
Julie gives a lot of credit for all these changes to doing EFT/Tapping with me. In fact, I’ll toot my own horn here and quote Julie, who said: “You have to work with Nancy to get past the blocks that have been holding you back. I think where I am now would not be possible without my work with Nancy.”
Watch the video to hear from Julie herself.
I’m so impressed by Julie. She has worked so hard and is finally poised to make a huge difference for so many people. You Go Girl!
When you’re ready to stop procrastinating and create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
“Elizabeth” had a big block. Lately she had been unintentionally sabotaging her relationships with her big clients She was worried that it was jeopardizing her business, and she was right. She needed to get rid of her block. But her block wasn’t quite what she thought it was.
Elizabeth works hard at everything she does. When her clients say they need something, she always takes on the project immediately no matter how unreasonable the time frame. Then she knocks herself and her staff out getting it done. She has taken that old adage to “underpromise and overdeliver” and thrown away the “underpromise” part. She promises her clients everything they want in record time, struggles to make it happen, and then finds that they don’t appreciate how hard she works. Of course, she rarely tells them how difficult it will be to meet their deadlines, so how could they?
She also overdoes things at home. Despite having a successful business making more than enough money, she does all the cleaning and cooking at home. She manages her seventh grade son’s schedule, personally making sure he gets to all his after school activities, attends his games, and hosts his friends at home at least once a week. And when he started struggling in math, she researched geometry books, got the one with the most recommendations, and tutored him herself. When her husband complained about their outdated kitchen, she hired the general contractor then made all the decisions and dealt with the inevitable problems on her own.
Today I want to give you a way to figure out whether your have a common block which can completely derail your progress. I’ll also give you a way to defuse it.
Although this block is common, it often manages to go unrecognized in most people since it only shows up when they start to make—and actually see—real progress towards their goals. That’s when it starts driving them to sabotage the progress they are making, which can be completely confusing as well as frustrating.
Why would anyone sabotage their own efforts just when they are starting to see some success?
Actually, it makes perfect sense that someone would sabotage themselves when they are starting to see improvement if the block they have is a fear of letting go of how they think of themselves. Take my client “Dominic,” an independent consultant who has a history of cycling back and forth between periods of expanding his client list and backing off from his business and letting it shrivel. He’s even been known to take a job in an entirely different field during a period where he is stepping away from his business. He truly loves what he does and wants to build a thriving practice, so we’ve been knocking down the internal blocks that get him off track.
After making some initial progress on his blocks, we decided to tackle his backlog of paperwork. Dominic had been letting his billing slide, which was doing a number on his cash flow. We made a plan, breaking down the project into several steps, then putting the steps on his calendar. We also made a plan for him get the billing done on a weekly basis going forward. What had seemed an insurmountable problem turned into something he could catch up on within a few days, then easily take care of after that. Dominic must have felt great, right?
Wrong. When I asked him how he was feeling, Dominic said with surprise in his voice that he was feeling “a little anxious.” As I asked more questions, he admitted that he didn’t know what it would be like to have his business running smoothly. He was a “flake.” Everybody knew that, including him. Who would he be when his business was thriving? He wouldn’t be that flake anymore. So who would he be?
Fear of losing…everything
When we have been holding a picture in our mind for a long time of who we are, anything that threatens to replace that picture can feel dangerous, even if on the surface we really want the change. It can seem to us, on some deeper level, that who we are will die if we change too much—even if we think the change is for the good. That’s extreme language, I know, but that’s how this block makes us feel. Then we will do anything, even sabotage what we want most in life, to avoid that frightening feeling.
Of course, we know that becoming more successful in our business or job will not make us die. But simply knowing that on an intellectual level does not change the emotional reaction we have to the “threat” to our self-image. And those emotions get triggered if we take a significant step towards change.
So if you notice that you start out full of good intentions on a new effort to move forward in your job or business, but pull back whenever you start to make progress, you may have this emotional block. If you have a pattern of doing something to screw up what had been off to a good start, you may have this block. Perhaps you just have a feeling that this might be a problem for you. If you have any of these indications, try this experiment.
What do you see when you visualize change, in detail?
Close your eyes. See yourself as more successful than you already are—maybe you are one more rung up the corporate ladder, or your business has a wait list of clients clamoring to hire you. Whatever you’ve been telling yourself is your next big goal, imagine you have achieved it and it’s effortless now. What do you look like? What does your workplace look like? Picture what you do during the day. Are you busy in important meetings? Traveling and giving presentations? Do you have more direct reports or people working for you? Who do you talk with and how do you interact with each other?
I assume that you will have more income. What are you doing with it? Imagine what it feels like to have more than you need to pay the bills, pay off all your debts, be able to go on more exotic vacations, pay for education, move to a bigger house, or donate more to your favorite charities—whatever you would do with the increase.
Now hear in your mind what the important people in your life are saying to you about your newfound success, whether that is your spouse, family members, clients, co-workers, bosses, or friends. Include important people from your past (your soccer coach, first wife, and brother you haven’t talked to in years). Don’t forget to “talk” to people who have died. Next, imagine what those same people are really thinking. Some of their thoughts will be the same as what they say to you, but some will be different.
If I’ve missed anything, be sure you put it into your picture. The goal is to really imagine all the aspects of your success. When you’ve spent some time getting a complete picture of this success and what it will change in your life, check out how you are feeling about it. You might expect to feel happy, excited, hopeful, even relieved, and you probably will feel some of those emotions. But if anything negative came up—like nervousness, worry, fear, heaviness, sadness, or overwhelm—some part of you is probably trying to avoid the loss of the “old” you.
Getting a negative feeling from inside yourself while visualizing your dreams coming true? Yep, you’ve got the block we’re talking about here.
Three simple steps to end the self-sabotage
One way to get around this block is to set aside time every day to do exactly what you just did. Visualize yourself as this more successful you, going through your day with all the perks of the success. You really only need to do this a few minutes at a time. But to make this work, you need to do three other things:
First, if negative things come into your visualization, like your boss yells at you, or you screw up and tick off your clients, or you are working too many hours, correct that part of the visualization. Visualize it again, but this time visualize the way you really want it to turn out (even if you have your boss acting out of character). After all, this is supposed to be the success you want, so see it that way.
Second, while visualizing, put each of your thumbs on the side of the index finger next to it and rub gently in slow circles near the base of the fingernail. This is a relaxation technique that will help you let go of the negative emotions that come up when you are visualizing your own success. This is key, since those negative emotions are the ones that are driving you to sabotage yourself when success starts to loom on the horizon.
Keep doing this exercise for a few minutes each day until the new you feels comfortable, and there are no more negative emotions connected to seeing yourself as successful.
We usually think that, to change how we think of ourselves, first we have to change what we do. It’s counterintuitive to think we have to change how we think of ourselves in order to change what we do, but that is exactly how you will get past this particular block.
So if you’ve discovered you have this block—you’re thinking of yourself as less successful than you want to be—it’s time to get started changing your thoughts. Until you do, it’s going to be nearly impossible to change what you are doing.
When you think about yourself in your work, do you see yourself as successful, competent, professional, just the way you want others to see you? If your answer is “yes,” then this tip is not for you. But if you see yourself in any other way—e.g., as a little kid in the corporate grown-up’s world, or as an arty type who’s floundering as a businessperson, or as a small-time player only pretending to do what you’re claiming to do and hoping no one sees through you—then read on.
I’ve found with many of my clients that one of the biggest internal blocks they have is that they don’t believe they are the person they are trying to be. They focus on what they are doing, thinking that if they just do what they are supposed to in their role, they will grow into it and finally be, and feel, successful. While there is no denying that you have to do what your boss, clients or customers need, how you see yourself—whether that is as a respected VP or successful business owner or, conversely, as the complete opposite—will also have a big impact on how well you succeed.
Take for example the solopreneur who knows she has a great service that other people need. She’s knows the marketing steps she needs to take to get the word out so customers who need her can find her. But she sees herself as someone who just isn’t a “real” businessperson, just someone who’s dabbling in her business. When she considers going to networking events, or giving presentations, or fielding calls from prospective customers, that internal view of herself is not only going to block her from doing things she needs to do (“oh well, maybe I’ll skip this networking event since I’m not likely to impress any potential customers”), it’s going to leak out when she does get out there and talk with people (like mumbling her words when she asks if they would like to buy her service).
When you feel like you’re faking it, it’s almost impossible to keep all of the discomfort you’re feeling from showing up in the subtle ways you hold yourself and act. Even those who are able to “stop up all the leaks” still aren’t presenting themselves as powerfully as they could if they weren’t using so much energy to combat the negative image they have of themselves.
Of course, there is some power in the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” You will get more confident the more you do something, but it takes time and that can lead to lost opportunities. So I recommend taking a shortcut to get that confidence more quickly: start doing things to see yourself as the successful person you want to become.
Dress for the part you’re playing.
First, be sure you look the part. There is a truism in career coaching that, instead of dressing for the job you have, you should dress for the job at least one step above you on the corporate ladder. The reason given is usually that you are more likely to get noticed and thought of as being capable of handling that role. This is true and not to be sneezed at, but there is an even more powerful reason in my book. When you dress a certain way, you start to act that way.
I once heard that when judges put on their black robes, something changes inside of them. They feel like a judge and start to act more authoritatively than before. Similarly, military people keep their uniforms carefully tended. Think of the sergeant yelling “Tuck in that shirt. Shine those shoes. You’re a Soldier now!” or words like it to the new recruits at bootcamp. Dressing that way helps the recruits start to act with the conviction that they are soldiers.
So consider how the person you want to be dresses. This is especially important for small business owners. Maybe you think you can get away with wearing old T-shirts and jeans, or even a robe and fuzzy slippers, since most days you don’t see customers. Don’t do it! You need to change the way you see yourself. Dress every day as if you were going to meet a potential customer. The more you dress the part, the more you’ll believe in the “new you.” (Plus, you never know when you’ll meet a potential client at the local cafe.)
For the same reason, keep your grooming up. Successful business professionals typically don’t let their hair get shaggy, or pour on the goth eyeliner of their rebellious youth. You want to catch sight of your reflection in store windows and wonder who that successful person is, not reinforce the idea that you’re somehow not good enough.
Gather photographic proof that you are the person you want to be.
You can get a regular boost from seeing pictures of yourself looking the way you want to look. Perhaps you have a photo of you with an expression of complete determination as you are going down the rapids on your last vacation. Or one from your sister’s wedding where you are holding your head up with great confidence. Maybe you have an easy smile in a candid shot from your last training. Gather up as many photos like this as you can find. Put together a collage of them and hang it on the back of your door. Use them as rotating wallpaper on your laptop. Or put them around your home where you’ll notice them every day.
If you have trouble coming up with photos that speak to you of the success you want, get a good headshot. A lot of people try to save money by hunting around for a decent candid shot from the last company retreat, or use a photo from ten years ago that is “good enough” on their websites, business cards or announcements. That won’t accomplish what you want. You need a headshot that shows the parts of you that are capable, confident, professional—whatever it is you are trying to grow into. Just know that you have those abilities already, even if you haven’t exercised them as much as you’d like. A good photographer can capture the moments when those expressions shine through. You’ll probably have to wade through a lot of mediocre shots, but that’s normal. Don’t get discouraged. There will be a few that make you say “Wow” when you see them.
Don’t skimp on this. Ask around for referrals to a photographer who has a good reputation for getting great shots of businesspeople and go with them. You’re looking for someone who can capture the sparkle in the eye of people who don’t spend their lives in front of a camera. (Not everyone offers this service. I know of a small business owner who went to a photographer who worked with models and actors. She was shocked when she found out he hadn’t been practicing his smile for their shoot. And neither of them liked any of the pics she took.) A good headshot can really remind you of who you are becoming.
Stand up straight and smile. (Really.)
How you hold your body and your expression are additional ways you can start to change how you think of yourself. Remember that soldier? He is taught to stand at attention with “chin up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in.” Try it now. You actually feel more confident when you stand or sit that way. And there is a famous study in which people making certain expressions (e.g., anger, fear) for a time started to feel the emotion they were mimicking, even though they hadn’t felt that way when they began. So channel your mother. Remind yourself to stand up straight and smile at times during the day. (Don’t smile constantly though. That’s just creepy.)
If you take these simple steps to change the external you, you’ll be on your way to changing the internal view you have of yourself.
Mom was right: you need your sleep. The research that has been pouring in has been telling us over and over that we all need enough sleep. When we don’t get it, all sorts of bad things happen. We eat more. We get depressed. We get anxious. We have more accidents. With too much sleep loss we develop chronic and life-threatening problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
These are all excellent reasons to make sleep a priority, but many people fail to act on them the same way we fail to exercise or eat healthier even though we know the importance of both. We are pretty good at discounting the downsides of losing sleep with a “Maybe someday that could happen to me, but I don’t have time to think about it now. I’ve got too much to do!”
We are all so busy, it can seem like a reasonable trade to give up an hour or two (or three) of sleep and suffer those consequences in the future just to get more done in the present. But it’s not. Let me tell you what losing sleep actually does to your work right now.
First, losing sleep lowers your ability to concentrate and think through cognitive tasks. And this can happen with just one night of too little sleep.
In addition, your creativity and insight drop. Perhaps some folks don’t need to be able to make connections and come up with new ideas to succeed, but the executives, professionals and business owners I work with all see those abilities as essential to what they do. Again, you only need one night of short sleep to lose ground.
A night of too little sleep also often leads to irritability, which is not great for bringing in new business, dealing with higher-ups, keeping customers happy, or even getting the best out of those people working for you.
You might have memory lapses or even memory loss as you lose more and more sleep.
Finally, lack of sleep lowers your immune system, making it more likely that you will get sick. How productive were you the last time you had the flu? Or even just a cold?
For any and all these reasons, if you don’t get enough sleep your career or your business will suffer. So follow the example of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and insist on getting the right amount of sleep every night to be able to do your work.
Next time I’ll help you figure out how much sleep you need. Until then, pleasant dreams!