If you only knew… then you’d know I’m a phony

This past weekend, a friend sheepishly told us about her day – she had been working hard for a month and turned down an invitation to a social business event to stay home and veg out.  She felt guilty, as if she was doing something wrong. She wondered if she was really hiding from colleagues and her boss in case she was “found out” as not knowing as much as they might think. It was a big reason behind her long hours at work.

I’ve felt that before.  Have you?

Feeling like a phony or a fraud is common in our culture, especially among women, but also among men.  It’s what drives some of us to never take time for ourselves, constantly afraid we’ll be “found out”.  Sometimes it’s part of the reason credentials are so valued – that false idol that says “I’m an expert”, even if you end up in debt for the rest of your working life, and emotionally a mess.  You can then say to the world “I may be a financial and emotional wreck, but I’m not a phony!” (There are also valid reasons behind having credentials – that’s a different story.)

Sometimes we feel like phonies because we aren’t as successful as we thought we’d be … or as respected by our peers. We’ve made mistakes, taken wrong turns and detours that cost us more than we expected; we’ve had our detractors and critics. We’ve had our moments of wondering whether we made the right decision … whether we’ve been going down the wrong path, wasting our time. Those are the times we feel knocked down and start to question ourselves.

But when we get knocked down, it doesn’t mean that we’re stupid, a looser, incapable, … a phony.  It simply means we’re human…. And courageous for stepping into that unknown.
If you sometimes feel like a fraud, Kyle Eschenroeder has some suggestions:

  • Get real. We feel like a phony when we have in our mind’s eye some vision of perfection that is actually unattainable.  It’s like the image we see of the perfect face and figure on the front page of Vogue – it’s the image that’s phony, not the model.
  • Give yourself credit for what you have achieved. Life isn’t fair – sometimes we get opportunities others never get, and so we think it isn’t fair and we don’t deserve to take any credit.  It’s true that life isn’t fair – life is about being available when opportunities come our way, and then deciding to take them or not.  So instead of berating yourself for taking opportunities that came your way, congratulate yourself.
  • Focus on providing value. When you get opportunities, then take the time to thank your community or the universe for sending those opportunities your way. There’s a shamanic belief that we are all connected, and in order to maintain a balanced connection, we must give energy for everything we receive.  For instance, if I grow tomatoes for consumption, I “thank” those plants with compost and care of the earth.  Similarly, if I get an opportunity to advance my learning, I gift the person or community who gave me that opportunity. By doing so, I acknowledge the debt I owe them, and that I couldn’t have done it without them.
When we feel like a phony or fake, we end up hiding behind a mask of either no concern or self-depreciation. We hide our vulnerability and deprive others of really seeing who we are.  You have something unique to offer others. Let it shine!

Reggie Watts: Beats that defy boxes (hang onto your hat!)



Quote of the Week
Don’t pretend to be what you’re not, instead, pretend to be what you want to be, it is not pretence, it is a journey to self realization. -Michael Bassey Johnsom


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co


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