How to Accept Your Success Instead of Feeling Like a FraudBy Homaira Kabir
You've just received great feedback from your boss. A momentary flush of pride washes over you—quickly followed by the familiar, gut-wrenching feeling that you’re a fraud.
Images of past failures flash on your mental Jumbotron. Fear bellows loudly: "How will I keep this up?", "There's no way I can do this again." In the background runs the all-too-common tune: "If Only They Knew the Truth About Me".
In my coaching work, I've seen clients play small, avoid opportunities to shine, and come up with all sorts of justifications for doing so. Some experience internal resistance and sabotage their own success by not preparing well for an important meeting, or “forgetting” to consult their boss on consequential details of a project. Others do the opposite—they invest Herculean efforts to keep up appearances, feel guilty about not having time for their health or relationships; and, at some point, completely burn themselves out.
Either way, they simply confirm the feelings of incompetence, unworthiness, or both that underpin their thoughts.
It’s time to change the script, and it doesn’t need painful reliving of past experiences to do so. Here’s how you can turn your faulty stories into empowered ones.
Savor Your Success
When good things happen, try to stretch the feelings of happiness that arise before allowing thoughts of impending doom to push them away. First and foremost, allow the success or praise to land on you. Don’t be quick to dismiss it by shrugging it off, attributing it to luck, or passing it off to other people. Sure, other factors and people may have played a role, as well, and it’s important to acknowledge that. But it’s equally important to acknowledge your own role, savor your contribution, and think about how your success helps create a better future for you and those around you.
Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., has found that even a few moments of uplifting reflection allow some momentary positive feelings to sink into your long-term memory and steadily replace the negative beliefs that no longer serve you well.
A word of caution: If fearful thoughts arise, do not challenge them. Instead, return to savoring your success, so that eventually the positive re