How to Accept Yourself FullyWe accept the love we think we deserve. ~Steven Chbosky
I’ve been going through life feeling like a fraud.
Every time a friend expressed awe over my seemingly perfect life, I gulped a big one and prayed they would never realize what my banal day-to-day existence was really like.
When I was in school, at every exam I hoped that this wouldn’t be the first one I would fail miserably, starting a chain reaction of terrible grades, followed by flunking out of school and ending up on the street … or in jail.
- Every time I walked into an interview, there was a big part of me wondering if this time I would be able to outsmart them. Or if I would finally bare all my crap on the table and embarrass the hell out of myself.
- Every time I walked into a meeting with the boss, a part of me cringed at the idea that he would finally have caught on to my fraud and decided to let me go.
- When I started coaching people, a little voice inside of my head kept convincing me that my next client would hate me, demand her money back and compensation for her time, and go off leaving terrible reviews about me to everyone on the Internet.
But, no matter what I did, I never did get outed.
Every time I took a test I did just fine. Every time I walked into an interview I walked out confident. I passed my classes, did research, graduated (that defraud didn’t happen either), got hired, got married (yep — guess he hasn’t caught on yet!) and am loved by my clients.
So why do I still feel like a fraud? And how can I overcome those feelings so I can actually feel relaxed and confident?
Through much observation, journaling and meditation, I learned three mindset shifts that helped me overcome my anxiety and stop feeling like I’m fooling everyone about my gifts.
1. It’s Not The End Of The World
Put yourself in the situation of your fear being true. The first step of what you dreaded has happened. What now?
If you really think about it, you may just realize that it’s not that big of a deal.
You live and let live. You just move on.
You won’t die. You won’t turn into a werewolf. You won’t pick up drugs. You’ll be just fine.
You might even learn a thing or two from it.
Maybe you’ll realize what ended up happening was actually better than what you had initially planned. Maybe you will be glad it all happened this way after all.
Anxiety and worry focus on a narrow perspective. They turn a potential event into a major threat by blowing up the negative consequences.
You have to work to see the whole picture, but once you do, you see the inner Photoshop in action and are able to let it go.
2. People Want To Like You
Chances are, the person who hires you to be your coach has absolutely no incentive to hate you. Neither do your admissions officers, your professors or your boss.
Contrary to my inner ramblings, no one was really out to hate and humiliate me. Au contraire. People feel lonely. They are looking for a pleasant encounter — someone to like. As much as hating and yelling can be cathartic, doing that is not pleasant by any meaning of the word.
The people you’re interacting with are people who have something or another in common with you — whether it be that you simply take the same train to work, are both looking for a match (e.g., company — employee) or are in some way connected to you (professor, boss).
Also, they feel lonely too. They want to be liked.
They want their problems to be solved, and, if you’re in that position, they want you to solve it for them, whether it’s being the right person for the job, helping them through a tough time, working hard in school or just being a good friend who won’t betray their trust.
As long as you treat them with respect, love, and trust, they don’t give a rat’s booty about what shortcomings you have. Besides, they have their own shortcomings to worry about. (You’re not the only one feeling like a fraud, no matter how much you think you are).
3. You’re Using The Wrong Mirror
Don’t you just hate those extra magnifying mirrors that show you every pore and zit on your face? All they do is point out every little imperfect detail about your face.
But all of those little hairs, black spots, and funky pores don’t even matter when you look at your whole face. Or your body as well.
When you criticize yourself, the default mirror you’re looking at yourself with is that ginormous super-mirror that shows off every little imperfection.
You see everything that you don’t like within yourself, and you cringe, because others don’t seem to have those things.
But what you’re really doing is comparing apples to oranges, because you can’t look at others with that mirror. You see them with a much bigger mirror, one that makes those imperfections much smaller and showcases their positive qualities just as much.
So switch the mirror you look at yourself with. Take some perspective. See yourself for who you really are.
- Create a feel-good folder where you save all of the love messages you get from your customers, friends and collaborators.
- Keep a long, open list of reasons why you’re not a fraud — in all facets of your life. With evidence.
- Actually notice when you do something well, and don’t be afraid to pat yourself on your back — loving yourself does not lead to cockiness or a loss of friends.
- When you catch yourself being stuck in worry and anxiety, pull out the notebooks, or even a sheet of paper. Write down everything that is good and amazing about yourself — it’s only fair to balance out the mirrors.
Anti-Fraud Anxiety Homework
I want to give you an assignment — one that has made a huge difference in my life. Send an email to three people you trust and admire. Ask them to tell you what they like about you – what makes you awesome.
You can feel free to link to this article or just tell them you got the assignment on a dare. But make sure you mention that you just need some love and that you would be happy to return the favor. Save the emails they send you in return, and look at them as often as you need to.
What is the number one tool you use to overcome your inner fraud anxiety alarm? Share your experience in the comments.