Hey. It’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. Now if you sometimes feel like a fraud no matter how much you accomplish or do, this episode is for you.
Today’s question comes from Z, who writes, “Hey Marie. I’m really struggling with Impostor Syndrome. No matter how many people tell me I’m amazing, and I’ve really helped them, no matter how much progress I make in my business and life, I still feel like it’s all a fluke and I actually suck, and I should give up. I know that’s normal. Lots of people have it, but hey, all the more reason to ask for your help. Got any tips? Thanks so much. Z.”
Oh Z, my love. Yes, yes, yes. This is a great question. You know, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, a whopping 70% of us suffer from Impostor Syndrome, or that feeling of being a total fraud. So you’re right, you are normal. And guess what, you’re actually in very good company.
In fact, here are just a few people you might’ve heard of who can totally relate. Jennifer Lopez said, “Even though I had sold 70 million albums, there I was feeling like I’m no good at this.” Jodie Foster said, “When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out and they’d take it back. ‘Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.’” Even the legendary Maya Angelou said, “I’ve written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’”
While this fraud feeling impacts everyone, it tends to hit women the hardest. Why? Because as women and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups, it’s easy to look around and feel out of place or like we don’t belong. And socially, we’ve been conditioned to self-deprecate and downplay our abilities. When we internalize that message that we’re not the real deal, we suffer major consequences, and not just emotionally or mentally, but financially. I’m talking smaller careers and smaller bank accounts.
That’s why it’s so, so, so important that we’re talking about this. Let’s dive in with six strategies to help you combat those negative effects of Impostor Syndrome.
Strategy number one is share the shame. Most people who are high achievers feel this way, but never talk about it. It’s like this dirty little secret that everyone’s afraid to admit. I will tell you right now, I still feel this way. And I’ve been doing what I’m doing for almost two decades.
My friend, Brene Brown, says this, “As a shame researcher, I know that the very best thing to do in the midst of a shame attack is totally counterintuitive. Practice courage and reach out.” A-to-the-men, Brene. And amen to you, Z, for sharing with this question. You know why? Because shame always shrivels when you share it out loud.
Here’s what to do to take this even further. What I want you to do is put a few people on speed dial for when that fraud festival comes to town and it won’t go away. These folks are your new hashtag fraud squad, people who you can jump on a call with and just say something like, “You know, hey guys. I’m feeling like I kind of suck right now. Can you remind me why I don’t?” Now naturally, you should be willing to return the favor. You want to be that person who’s always lifting others up and reminding them of how great they are, especially when they can’t see it for themselves.
Strategy number two, shine your light out, not in. Now I did a whole episode about this idea that you should watch right after this one. And I will put a link below. But here’s the flashlight method in a nutshell. Z, I want you to think about your attention, your mental and emotional and spiritual energy as a flashlight. And that flashlight can only shine in one direction, so in any given moment that flashlight is either shining in on you, and how insecure you are and how much of a fraud you feel like. Or it’s shining out, where your attention is on your customer, what they feel and what they need and want, and most importantly, how you can help them.
Now here’s the cool part. When your life is 100% focused on your customers or helping people, you’ve got zero light shining in on you. That means you have zero attention on your fraud feelings, which means they practically disappear. The next time you catch yourself feeling like a fraud, I want you to remember that you’re probably shining your light on yourself, rather than directing it to where it can be most useful and most joyful, which is out on helping other people.
Strategy number three is start a hype file. Now you may have heard of a swipe file, and I’m suggesting that you start a hype file. This is a place where you can keep a running list of compliments and thank yous and any comments from people who’ve shared how you’ve helped them. The next time you’re feeling like a fraud, all I want you to do is open up that hype file.
[hype file voiceover]
Marie is a living miracle.
If loving Marie is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Marie, best show ever.
I got your logo tattooed on my…
You inspired me to start a business.
You inspired me to start 10 businesses.
[end hype file voiceover]
And let them remind you that, yes, you are the real deal.
Strategy number four, track your successes and your stumbles. Two facets of Impostor Syndrome are that, one, we don’t internalize our success. And two, we are terrified of making mistakes. That’s why it’s really important that you start to keep a list of both. For example, every year I do a year in review. I write down each year’s successes and my stumbles, and most important, what I’ve learned from them all. This way, I have this very factual list of what I’ve accomplished, and the mistakes I made along the way. And I can see that not only did those mistakes not ruin me, but they helped me get stronger, and they helped me get better, which makes me less afraid of making more of them in the future. We did a whole episode on this year in review process too, so that link is also below.
Strategy number five is get a go-to mantra. This strategy involves making up just this little phrase that you can say to yourself in those clutch moments, either when you’re about to go into a big meeting, or when you just need to sit down and do your work. Mindy Kaling, whom I love, suggested this as a motto. “Why the fuck not me?” And she’s got the book to back it up.
Now I have to say, I’ve got my own version that I pull out when I need it every once in a while too. You’re Marie fucking Forleo. You’ve got this, bitch.” Okay. Say it back. “You’re Marie fucking Forleo. You’ve got this, bitch.” Yeah, you do. Chest bump.
Now a little science note here. When it comes to motivational self talk, research shows that talking to yourself in the third person can help you actually feel less anxiety and perform better, so get yourself a go to mantra, and some bonus points if you use your first name.
Finally, strategy number six is be humble. Look, the most accomplished and respected people in the world stay humble. They’re curious. They’re openhearted. They’re lifelong learners. Don’t ever feel like you have to overcompensate for Impostor Syndrome by becoming an arrogant, asshat, know-it-all. Not only do you not have to know it all, but you become extra trustworthy when you say these three magic words: I don’t know. You know, I consider myself a forever student. And I happily admit when I have no idea what something is, or how to do something.
But you know what, everything is figureoutable, so not knowing doesn’t make me a fraud, and it doesn’t have to make you one either. And there you have it, six strategies to help you overcome Impostor Syndrome. Z, that was my A to your Q, and I really do hope it helps. Now I would love to hear from you. We’ve got a two-parter today. First, have you ever felt like a fraud? If so, I want you to shout it out in the comments below. We need to strip the shame attached to this feeling and realize how universal it really is.
And then second, I want to know what strategies have helped you stay out of impostor land.
And for bonus points, what a fun go to mantra that you can use in those clutch moments? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Now as always, the very best conversations happen after the episode over at marieforleo.com, so head on over there and leave a comment now. While you’re there, hop onto our email list and become an MF Insider. You’ll get instant access to a powerful audio I created called How To Get Anything You Want. Plus, you’ll get exclusive content, special giveaways, and some personal updates from me that I don’t share anywhere else. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world needs that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching, and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.