Lie of the Imposter Complex #4: You Have Nothing Useful to Say

I find that Lie #4 of the Imposter Complex tends to show up a lot in the guise of writer’s block.

(By the way, here’s why I say Imposter Complex instead of Imposter Syndrome).

We sit down to write a blog post, or an article, or an email, or a book, or a course, or a flippin’ Facebook post and we pause…

You have nothing useful to say,” a voice whispers inside.

“(Or original. Or important. Or valid.)”

And it puts a hard stop to any creative output we might want to produce.

Of course, it might show up for you somewhere else — in conversation, in a meeting at work, at a party with friends, or anywhere your voice might be heard.

When we believe this lie, we say nothing. We don’t communicate with our audience, our clients, our fans. We pass up opportunities to share our message (what message?) and don’t collaborate with our peers (everyone knows more than I do about the topic!) And we miss out on growth, learning, and connection.

We imagine speaking to a thousand-person audience about the topic for which we feel woefully ignorant and entertain two possible outcomes: crickets or pelted tomatoes.

I hear this a lot, in particular, from people who want to write books — fiction or nonfiction.

They’ll be toiling (or poking, as the case may be) away at an idea or a manuscript, and then something with a similar premise hits the bestseller list.


OK, so there is indeed a distinct possibility that what you’re saying HAS been said before.

But it’s never, ever, ever been said in the way you will say it.

YOUR WAY will be informed by your unique and complex structure of values, perspectives, experiences, strengths, heart, and your very character. And your people want to hear YOUR WAY.

Going back to our author friends, they say that there are only 7 plots (or 20, or 36 depending on who you ask).

Yet there are hundreds, maybe thousands of original books and stories published every year, each one a different version of the archetypes we already know and love.

The details are what’s important, and the details come down to each individual author — each individual person who brings their own voices, opinions, experiences, and values to the stories.

How Lie #4 might manifest for you

Depending on which of the six behavioural traits of the Imposter Complex you most often experience, you might experience the self-doubt of Lie #4 in different ways:

If you’re a people-pleaser, you might find you don’t want to “bother” people with your unoriginal thoughts. If it’s not earth-shattering, there’s no point in clogging their airwaves.

If you have leaky boundaries, you may find yourself NOT wanting to read what anyone else has said for fear it will influence your own thought process, so you isolate or deeply curate your input (perhaps to your detriment).

If you tend to compare, you’re probably super familiar with this lie! Because you’re always comparing what you want to say with what others have already said (and probably finding your version lacking).

If you’re a perfectionist, you hold such a high standard for yourself that nothing but perfect originality will suffice.

If you’re a procrastinator, thinking about how someone else has said it better will be the perfect reason to put off saying it yourself.

If you tend to diminish, you’re certainly going to get stuck on the idea that not only has it been said before, but it’s been said better.

No matter which behavioural trait is keeping you from speaking your truth in the way that only you can, the solution is to remember that your people want to hear your take, your version, your view.

These very words are a curation of learnings you’ve probably already heard. But they’re told through MY own lens. Packaged in a way that I have intended to be practical and valuable and useful.

May it be so.

Your way’s the way.


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Originally published at on April 28, 2020.

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