In this episode, we talk about the fraud complex or impostor syndrome that can affect so many high-performing, successful, ambitious women.
Kylie: Hi, everybody! It’s Kylie and Bianca of My Mind Coach, Home of the Queens Collective Mastermind. Today we want to talk about the fraud complex or impostor syndrome that can affect so many high performing, successful, ambitious women.
Bianca: It’s interesting when I look back on the 15 years that I’ve been working in the health and fitness and industry and recognizing that, actually, I was working in the area of feminine leadership and it just happened to be a tool that I used was through the embodiment, like how well women were actually walking their talk, how comfortable they felt about saying, “This is what I want and this is what I’m going to do and ensure that I continue to do in order to live my best life.”
So many times, these ideas of “what I want” can be filtered by this idea that “I’m not good enough”. Sometimes even the goal of trying to lose weight or change your body or have a certain level of success can actually even be born from that idea of lack.
These ideas of ‘what I want’ can be filtered by this idea that ‘I’m not good enough’.
I know that one of the big things for me was not fitting in. Being half Samoan and half Australian, I always felt like I was that outsider. I just channeled it all into body. I didn’t realize that pretty, skinny blonde girls that look like Barbie also had those same feelings as well. It’s not like specific but it’s such a common thing that women translate that impostor syndrome into their body.
And so when I was about 24, after a very up and down, horrible relationship with food and bingeing and purging and self-harm through drugs and all that kind of punishing exercise, I discovered body sculpting – because body sculpting is what’s going to help me overcome the fraud complex.
Kylie: Of course! If you look fabulous, of course you’ll be accepted.
Bianca: Fat’s wrong, right? So I just need to eliminate all fat from my diet and all fat from by body, and then I’ll finally be happy and I’ll finally belong.
Over about 3 or 4 years, I would do different shows and I remember feeling horrible on maybe it was my third show. I was up the back and I didn’t get called out for comparisons. It’s like a stage full of 30 women that all look fantastic, and then you’re crushing yourself because of that 30 you’re only 15. It’s such a horrible…
Kylie: When you say “I did a few shows” it’s not like you just showed up and did a few shows. These take months of intense dedication and discipline to get to the show. How long did it take to prepare for a show?
Bianca: If you do it right it’s 16 to 20 weeks. Some people do it in 12 weeks but that’s like the amateur version, that’s like the normal public version of a really difficult thing to do.
Kylie: Bikini contest type of thing?
Kylie: So you’re comparing yourself to these other 30?
I’m the scum of the earth because of the Top 1 percent of women in Australia I’m only Top 15.
Bianca: Yeah, over 18 months I did a few shows and then there was this one position where I was like, “Oh my god, here am I up the back, what am I doing? I’m the scum of the earth because of the Top 1 percent of women in Australia I’m only Top 15.” So I was like, “Right, I’m never ever going to feel this way ever again.” So I dedicated myself to eating… it ended up being like 24 egg whites a day, like having 8 egg white omelets, just chicken and broccoli – and I was so strict.
Sometimes when you’re eating that well you don’t actually need much sleep either, so I’d wake up at 3:00 in the morning, be staring at the ceiling and go, “Well, I might as well go burn some fat.” So in the middle of winter with all the gloves and my neck socks, I’d go out pedaling on my bike in the dark. Ridiculous in this pursuit of never ever feeling like I wasn’t good enough again.
I woke up to the day and it was really interesting. I was in the best condition I’ve ever been, I was head and shoulders in terms of quality of muscle and the package that I was presenting. That’s what they talk: I’m bringing a really great package, a really tight package. That’s what you call it in body sculpting. And then people talk to you about the package, you know.
Kylie: How’s the objectification of the body? So like not even calling it my body, it’s a package. How’s the objectification of women and body? That is a whole different conversation, a whole different rabbit hole. But yeah, the package, oh my god, that’s just blown my mind.
No matter how much I changed the outside circumstances, I still felt like a fraud.
Bianca: It’s making me get some sweats just thinking about it. And so I’m backstage and we’re all doing this random weird sweat sessions with resistance bands and you’ve got your primpers, like your fluffers. Everyone patting on fake tan in all your little private bits and trying to get all veiny and vascular – it’s bizarre.
And as I walked past these women in a package that was already elite and the best one I’ve ever created… I remember walking past these women who also looked fantastic and beautiful and incredible, and I thought “Huh, that feeling of being a fraud’s still here. I still feel like a fraud. Huh?”
Now I went on to win the show, and I’m pretty sure I made other people feel like they were frauds too just with some of my behavior being like, “Taddah! I’m here! I’m in my element, I’m superior. I’m a superior genetic being. And I’m finally going to make all of you pay for making me feel horrible for all these months.”
So then of course I celebrated with like three meals at Hog’s Breath and pizza and all that stuff. And then came the decline, the next 6 months of me eating Tim Tams for breakfast and turkey cheese sandwiches and meat pies and hotdogs and all these random bizarre foods that I had been missing out on. And that was the problem that I reached out to you, Kyles.
Kind of the moral of the story was that no matter how much I changed the outside circumstances, I still felt like a fraud. And most people don’t get to that point. They don’t get to the point where they’ve got the rippled 6-pack and then finally got the ultimate perfect body, like on the newspaper for “Bianca’s perfect body”. I actually achieved it and the ideas wouldn’t go away.
The Fraud Complex
Kylie: Yeah, the amount of dedication and discipline that you’ve demonstrated to have those achievements is just mind-boggling, really. But it’s so interesting. How often do women have great achievements and get great achievements, like they’re up there on stage, in success, married, with the kids, with the business, with the whatever, making money in the corner office, and they’re still like, “Oh god, I hope they don’t find me out. Someday someone’s going to come and find me out and they’ll take it all away from me.”
And then so many of those women as well that don’t reach those levels of success because they have such a fraud complex that they don’t even try. They stop themselves before they even had a chance to go after that particular thing and have that success in the first place. It is an endemic issue amongst women and men. A lot of CEOs that I coach all have exactly the same issue. “People are going to come and find me out. How did I get here? This is so weird.”
Bianca: Multi-million dollar deals.
That voice in your head is stopping you from doing what you are really called to do and really standing in your power.
Kylie: This little kid inside successful people that’s going, “How did I get here? What’s going on? Someone’s going to come and take it all away.” It’s really interesting because that voice in your head is stopping you from doing what you are really called to do and really standing in your power and owning your package, owning your embodiment, owning your success and going, “Yeah, I did this, I worked for this. Yeah, give me a compliment. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. I agree,” and receiving that success that you have worked very hard for.
So often we work and work and work to achieve the success but then never give ourselves the opportunity to receive the success, but instead continue to move the goalpost on ourselves further and further and further out – until you just burn out with exhaustion and being demoralized by the entire thing.
Bianca: It’s what’s happening on the inside, on the opposite end of the Facebook highlight reels. Especially what I created was conditional self-love. Orthorexia, essentially. But what’s interesting about how that really appeals to the shadow side of many women is they don’t actually get to that point because most people can’t put their life on hold on the egg whites and train 3 times a day. So they never actually get to that part of recognizing it’s the thought that was broken not their circumstances that were broken.
It’s what’s happening on the inside, on the opposite end of the Facebook highlight reels.
But what I also discovered is that rise from the ashes, that phoenix of “I was fat and I hated myself and then I was thin and I loved myself.” That part is what so many focus on. But that’s the positive payoff of the conditional self-love and conditional approval.
I was just coaching an incredible, amazing person that’s achieved so much success – and you would never ever pick from the outside that she was having full-on nervous physical bodily reactions to stepping into a leadership role. It’s something that she dreamed about. She’s like finally living her dream career and she was having this horrific behind closed doors visceral physical reaction.
Part of what was creating that was that her ego or her shadow self had created this really amazing way for it to feel validated all the time, because she would always second guess herself. She would always go, “I can say that but I won’t because I might be wrong, but let’s not even think about that. If I’m wrong then it’ll just give this great opportunity to go out and learn more. And when I know there’s more to learn and more to learn, I feel awesome and amazing. But if you make me realize I’m stopping here, I feel like it’s going to be over.” Like that was a massive thing of me realizing that I had this idea that if I won the lotto then everything would be over, like all my challenges, all my ways of feeling good about myself would be over. Like, “Oh, that sucks.”
And so it’s only when you access and recognize that positive payoff you’re getting from the negative behavior and realizing how alluring that is that you can start dismantling.
You’re beating yourself up with this one thing but you’re getting this payoff on the other end.
Kylie: Yeah, it’s a secondary gain. That’s what drives self-sabotage. It’s because you’re beating yourself up with this one thing but you’re getting this payoff on the other end. My classic example is I realized it the other day as I was zooming up at the street in my crazy European-style electric bike to pick up my kids. I was like, “Why do I always leave it to the last second to pick up my kids?” I’m like, “Ah! I’ve got to go!”
One reason is, yeah, I really love what I do and I’m really committed to building the empire that we’re building and serving the women that we’re called to serve – that’s one reason. But the other reason is that in my genetic biotype I’m driven to adrenaline. I love adrenaline. And so that sprint of me going up the hill and having only 3 minutes to get there with the consequences of my daughter maybe being sobbing that I haven’t got there on time, it drives me crazy. And so the payoff is this huge adrenaline surge that i get to cycle up the hill. Maybe that’s a little bit of an unusual type of payoff, but so many of us get payoffs in weird ways that we’re unconscious to.
How many of us get annoyed and frustrated if you don’t have a dishwasher and you’ve got… or you get annoyed and frustrated because you don’t want to ask your partner to do the dishes, you want them to want to do the dishes. You want it to come up with it themselves. Like, “I don’t want to have to ask you to do the dishes, I want you to want to do the dishes.” What kind of psycho person would want to do the dishes? No one wants to do dishes! So there’s so much meaning attached to that.
Or people that you’re like, “I’m feeling sick… Awww… Awww…” because I get the payoff of sympathy. There’s so many ways.
When you’re feeling compromised and like you’re not good enough or feeling like you’re an imposter, what’s the payoff of that? What are you getting?
Maybe it’s that you don’t have to actually fully step into your potential and so don’t have to really put it all on the line and see once and for all what you’re made of and really see that success actualize and the changes that would bring in your life. Or even get the feedback that “Hey, maybe this isn’t for you” and then you would have to face the fact that you actually need to change your life and go and do something else.
So many of us hover with this safe problem of the fraud complex because it’s the payoff of feeling safe. Even though I’m slightly uncomfortable here, I know that I’m safe.
The full embodiment of your power, it requires a level of commitment and a level of choice where you have to then go and take action with that and commit to what is truly meaningful to you.
Your body is just the projector screen from your mind.
Bianca: Yeah, that’s so amazing. It’s just reminds me of conversations that I’ve had with very powerful women, and there’s always this misconception that I’m constantly working with that. It’s like what you’re looking at, the external circumstances, has been put in place from your thoughts, and your body is just the projector screen from your mind. Your present is just the thoughts that you present into the moment.
I was having this conversation with one of our awesome peers, and she was saying, “Look, I need help with managing my weight.” And I said, “Babe, I hear what you’re saying, but do you really think you’re fat? Are you really fat or is it that your thoughts your fat?” And she goes, “No idea. I’m just fat. There’s no positive thinking around this, I am actually just fat. And I’m probably just not willing to do the work about it either.”
First and foremost, I was like, “Okay, you don’t have to punish yourself and kill yourself eating egg whites and training 3 times a day in order to change your embodiment. All it has to be is changing the thoughts and believing that you are not your thoughts and you are not your body. And to be able to extract yourself out and watch and look at the choices that you’re making in those moments.” Really showing people that a belief is just a thought that you kept on choosing over and over and over until you believed it was fat.
I think now, with realizing the women that are a match to work with us in the Queens Collective, regardless of their embodiment in the different areas, one of the key things that they need to realize or show evidence of is that they are not their thoughts and that they are the creator of their reality.
Sometimes people can be actually just like in ankle deep water and saying, “I’m drowning, I’m drowning. Rescue me!!!” And you’re like, “Until you fight the tide to stand up and realize that you’re the one telling your story, I can’t help you.”
It’s actually serving us really well, helping people make that choice – and that’s me letting go of being the rescuer and trying to go, “I’m going to help everybody! We’re all going to rise to the ashes!” and then just help them recognize that it’s just their creation.
So if somebody is really in that mode of not even being aware of the fraud complex and how it’s affecting them, how do you figure it out and how do you overcome it?
Kylie: That’s a long discussion. How do you figure it out and how do you discover it.
Bianca: You’ve got one minute to answer it.
How do you overcome the Fraud Complex?
Kylie: I’ve got one minute to answer it. Give me some adrenaline. Okay, right. Well, let me tell you… The first thing you need to do is go to our page. We actually have a diagnostic to help people uncover this – see those areas of their life that they’re not looking at. Because often the fraud complex hides. It’s sneaky, right? No one wants to admit even that they have that fraud complex. If you’re pretty conscious you might know that it’s there, but a lot of times it hides in areas of your life that you might not be aware of.
And so, this diagnostic tool that we put together really tests your belief and your thinking around three key areas of embodiment where the problems can really show up. In your body, in your embodiment. In your wealth and your career – how you get to make money and receive money and how much freedom you have to use that and live your life. And your relationship – how you relate to other beings, other people and yourself. That’s the first place that you could go to start to uncover it.
The next step from there is that once you realize that “Hey, there’s this area where I’m feeling compromised” or, “The results that I’ve got on the outside don’t match up to how I’m feeling on the outside. “Hey, I am a super successful bodybuilder” or, “I am a super successful CEO or executive or business owner, but I actually inside feel like a little girl sometimes. I sometimes feel like people are going to laugh at me and nobody’s going to come to my party.” Really being with that little part of yourself. Because it’s not all of yourself, it’s like there’s a little part of your consciousness that’s split off and is stuck, feeling like that little girl.
That part of you is trying to keep you safe or trying to assist you in some way, so it’s not something that you need to get rid of.
And so then, the rest of you, your higher self can come off and nurture that part of you and go, “Hey, it’s okay. I get that you’re feeling like no one’s going to come to your party or that you’re not good enough or that you’re a little girl that doesn’t fit in with her group or doesn’t look like the other girls. I get that. Come with me and let’s heal this together.” And realizing that that little part of within you has a higher truth and has a positive intention for you, that often that part of you is trying to keep you safe or trying to assist you in some way. So it’s not something that you need to get rid of.
A lot of people think, “Oh, I need to get rid of this fraud complex,” like they need to cut off their arm or something. It’s not something that you need to get rid of. You need to integrate the shadow aspect that is driving that. And when you integrate it, it allows you to unlock your power, it allows you to unlock all of that hidden power that have been caught up in that contraction.
And when you do that then life gets better – and you get better results, and your relationships improve, and your body improves, and your bank balance improves. And it’s not an effort because it’s a function of the released embodied power rather than extra effort.
So the first step is to do our diagnostic, and the second step is to be nice to yourself. And the third step is to talk to us. Come join our tribe!!
Bianca: You are such a legend! You did that so well. That is so cool. Because sometimes when I throw a question, it’s like we go into the universe and the infinite and then the galaxies and fellow dimensions, and then I’m like, “Oh babe, I just wanted to know like 1, 2, 3. So I love it. I love it.
Kylie: Just give me a timeframe. “Tell me the Cheerios version.”
Fear is important for your survival. It’s believing that it’s real which is the part that holds you back from your greatness.
Bianca: Just when you were talking here, it made me realize that when you integrate it you realize that that was just the maladaptive way of trying to keep you safe – and there’s nothing wrong with trying to keep you safe. Fear is important for your survival. It’s believing that it’s real which is the part that holds you back from your greatness.
When I think about all the incredible women that we have coached and helped them transcend their own fraud complexes, you just see the amazing, incredible realignment in their life. It’s really subtle on the inside and then it manifests these incredible futures and life circumstances on the outside. And the key thing that has made it possible for each one of them is that they were brave enough to look into those deep recesses into their mind, to not just lightwash it all like Michela says. And to realize there’s some times where I’m like, “I’m the queen of the world!” and then there’s other times where I feel small or devastated or I wake up at 3:00 in the morning and feel like it’s all going to shit.
And the people that are honest with themselves and are brave enough to be vulnerable, they are the ones that ultimately step up and live in their potential and step into their highest expression of themselves. People that get limited results and keep on going around and round in a swirling mess of their shadow thoughts, they’re the people who are too afraid to really front up and be honest.
The people that are honest with themselves and are brave enough to be vulnerable, they are the ones that ultimately step up and live in their potential and step into their highest expression of themselves.
Kylie: Yeah, to look at it.
Bianca: I love me a bit of honesty and transparency and a bit of rawness and realness. So if you want to get raw and real, check out the power diagnostic at www.mymindcoach.com.au/potential.
If you want to be that high-achieving woman who actually creates peace and balance and lasting results without it coming at the consequence of other areas of their life, you want to find out where you’re looking your power and how you can integrate it. So check it out.
Kylie: Yeah, the ultimate leverage. Do it!
In case you missed it, check out last week’s podcast here: