Lie of the Imposter Complex #5: You Must Not Tell Anyone About This

Because of Lies #1 and #2 of the Imposter Complex, you don’t speak of your big thing. To ANYONE.

And you definitely don’t mention that you’re nervous about it, or feeling anxious, or, you know, struggling with the Imposter Complex.

(And yes, we call it Imposter Complex, not imposter syndrome, and you can find out why here.)

Because speaking your fears will just draw attention to said inadequacy, right? Besides, what they don’t know won’t hurt anyone, right?

(Except, of course, maybe you.)

I famously (infamously?) call this “slipping things into the water.”

When you launch the product, release the album, write the book, finish the course, achieve the goal…

But you don’t want to make a big deal about it….

(Because secretly you’re nervous, anxious, afraid it isn’t any good…)

So you make such a little deal about it that even your nearest and dearest don’t know.

That’s slipping it into the water, trying not to make waves, trying not to rock the boat.

And then, when the product doesn’t sell, the album doesn’t top the charts, the book doesn’t get rave reviews, and nobody congratulates you on the thing, your Imposter Complex translates that as proof positive that you weren’t ready, aren’t successful, don’t deserve it.

See? Nobody cares. You’re not good enough…

The reason I’m infamous for it is that I tend to call people out on it.

You didn’t get the sales / reviews / recognition that you wanted? Did you slip it into the water?

It’s not to make anyone feel worse — absolutely not. It’s about naming what happened and shining light on that tactic of the Imposter Complex that convinced you not to tell anybody about it because they would judge you.

Naming the thing removes some of its power

We think that by naming whatever is inside of us that others will judge us.

The converse is more likely true. And more productive.

By naming the experience, you are speaking the shame and bringing compassion into the fold.

Try this: ‘’I’m excited to be doing this and nervous because it matters.”

“I’m putting out this product because I’m proud of it and I know people need it.”

“I poured my heart and soul into this, and I’m anxious that people won’t like it, but I want to share it.”

Discernment alert: I’m not talking about Lie #6 — I must tell everybody about this.

I’m just inviting you to name it. And to sit back and watch as relief spreads across the room. Empathy too. And where there’s empathy, connection is possible. (And isn’t that what this is all about. after all?)


How Lie #5 might manifest for you

Depending on which of the six behavioural traits of the Imposter Complex you most often experience, you might go quiet with Lie №5 because of different things:

If you’re a people-pleaser, you might find you don’t want to “bother” people with whatever you have going on. And you certainly don’t want to annoy anyone by being “promotional” or “too salesy.”

If you have leaky boundaries, you may find yourself NOT wanting to get feedback or hear other people’s thoughts on your feelings or doings. (Note: it’s perfectly ok to say something like, “I’m not interested in feedback right now.”)

If you tend to compare, you don’t want to talk about your thing because you think it’s not as good as somebody else’s; and you certainly don’t want to name your fears and anxieties if she isn’t…

If you’re a perfectionist, you don’t want to share because you feel like what you have to share isn’t perfect — or that your feelings just put your imperfections on display.

If you’re a procrastinator, you might be prone to convincing yourself that you’ll say it, promote it, share it later. When you get around to it…

If you tend to diminish, you’re probably going to convince yourself that nobody cares, nobody is interested, it isn’t that good, nobody’s going to listen anyway… etc.

Of course, these are all just variations on a theme — variations on the lie, designed to keep you alone and isolated, out of action, and doubting your capacity.

That’s what the Imposter Complex wants.

But when we name it — name the lie, but also name what we’re feeling, what we’re doing, how we’re showing up — we rob it of its power.


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Originally published at on May 5, 2020.

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