A Big Fat Fake

Esther Egerton

What do these words conjure up for you? Weight issues or feeling like an imposter, a person who pretends to be someone else to deceive others. For me it’s about the feeling of ‘I don’t belong here’, or ‘I am not meant to be here and they’re going to find me out.’ I think we have all been there, that internal dialogue that goes round in your head, which actually prevents you from being in the moment.

It can also can be described as the Imposter Syndrome or Experience and now we’re going into the realms of psychology. Mike Cunningham a performance coach agrees with me, it makes it sound like a label. It sounds official a recognized ‘syndrome’ and I am not a fan of that description.

Why do we feel like this? Why do believe that we are unskilled and not up to the job? We want to show up as our authentic, best version of ourselves and it is a basic human need.

Let’s just try something. Can you recall a time when you were at your best, being true to yourself? You know that feeling, when you know it feels right and it is in line with how you express yourself and your values, when we feel personally powerful and attuned to ourselves. In this state everything about us becomes synchronized – breathing, speech, posture, expression and movement. We are no longer fighting ourselves; we are being ourselves without judgment. The honest, powerful connection we experience internally.

There are short cuts, helpful neural, physical pathways we can practice in order to bypass the negative thought processes that we can experience when this self doubt and lack of self –belief creeps in. It is also known as the lizard brain (amygdala), the part of the brain that is responsible for anger, fear and negativity and stops you from succeeding. It is responsible for your ‘fight or flight’ reflex and it wants to control you, to stop you from doing anything risky or new.

But we can beat it, I know from personal experience, as there have been so many moments in my life where this self -critical talk has stopped me from moving forward and I can and do get stuck. However, I practice failure, despite how rubbish it makes me feel and push aside the countless ‘fakery’ chatter that goes on in my head.

That it is exactly what I did a year ago when playing Paula in Timeshare by Philip Ayckbourn. Every time I played her I pushed aside the negative thoughts (with great difficulty I might add) reminding myself that I belonged and I had a right to be there.
It doesn’t come easy and it takes practice. The lizard brain, is responsible for my house being generally always tidy (procrastination.) For not saying ‘yes’ to a particular challenge (making excuses.) Shallow breathing and feeling sick (inventing anxiety) and reading and re-reading an idea without just sending it out there into the world (obsessing over details.)

The good news is that you can fight these things and do the opposite to what your lizard brain would like you to do. Try it, you can, you can, you can. You belong, you’re not an imposter, I am not a big fat fake! Let’s get out of our heads, get out there and be an explorer.

‘I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes,
 I’m thinking about making more.’

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