The words fake it till you make it written in chalk on a blackboard. The word fake is crossed out with the word Brave above, making it Brave it till you make it.

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Why “Fake it till you make it” is actually killing your Confidence

Almost all women have said the phrase “Fake it till you make it” at some point.

It’s commonly intended as a phrase to build Confidence. 

But the truth is… “Fake it till you make it” is an outdated, self deprecating statement that needs to be retired.

When women use this phrase we are robbing ourselves of the acknowledgement and self validation we deserve from the Confidence-building actions we just took. 

That’s right, you just performed the action, therefore there is nothing fake about it. What you haven’t done is owned the action, therefore you’ve denied yourself a confidence boost. 

Let me explain.


You don’t have to FEEL confident to ACT confident

Confidence, despite being a commonly known or used word, can be surrounded by ambiguity. Confidence is not a personality trait. So you’ll be pleased to hear that Confidence is a skill that can be learned, enhanced and practiced by anyone. 

Your Confidence isn’t fixed. It’s situational and due to life circumstances. It’s a mixture of nature and nurture, and some of us can learn it more easily than others.

In the way most women use “Fake it till you make it”, they mean “projecting Confidence when you’re secretly nervous as hell on the inside”. That’s still Confidence.

You’re still doing because sometimes your action can be propelled faster than your feelings. And Confidence is built on ACTION. 

So if you’re physically doing the action – you turned up, you presented your speech – you actually are building Confidence.

Eventually, your feelings catch up to your actions because Confidence comes with practice.

When we’re talking to or about ourselves, language matters

Your colleague says to you “You really nailed that presentation today” and you reply “Oh, no, I just faked my way through it – I was super nervous.”

PLEASE STOP THAT.

Because you’re subconsciously sabotaging yourself.  

When you refer to yourself as fake, you’re training your brain to believe it and discount the credit or the work that you just did. 

And then you’re also missing out on the Confidence boost you deserved from taking the confident action. So it’s a double blow.

The words you use to describe yourself and your actions matter. Words are weapons, they either serve us (or someone else) or they sabotage us.

When we speak, we program our minds to think and feel different things.  

The truth is, “Fake it till you make it” is negative self talk. 

Using the word “fake” feeds Imposter Syndrome and Self Doubt

If you experience Imposter Syndrome, you’ll know it makes you feel like a fraud.

So if you call yourself a fake in “Fake it till you make it”, you’re inadvertently calling yourself a liar or a fraud, because “fake” means what you are portraying is not real. 

Feelings are not facts. Take a look at Imposter Syndrome: it makes you feel like a fraud. But when you look at the facts: you’ve worked your whole career to gain skills and credentials and you’re an expert in your field. You only feel inadequate.

When you say “I faked my way through it”, you’re telling yourself that you are not worthy of self recognition, so you’re not getting a Confidence boost. 

When you felt like you were faking it, what did you actually do?

No matter how you FELT in the moment, the fact is: YOU DID IT.

  • Did you do the research?
  • Did you write the content?
  • Did you show up?
  • Did you build competence?
  • Are you now more rehearsed for next time?
  • If you have to do the same action again next week, will you feel a little stronger?

After all, it’s not about how you felt. It’s about what you did. You felt nervous, but you did the task. 

Your feelings will eventually catch up to your confident actions, and your Confidence will grow.

When someone gives you a compliment, thank them. Don’t deflect it. Own that moment. Even if you felt nervous, you still took a confident action. Next time, you won’t feel so nervous. 

So it’s time to do away with “Fake it till you make it” and say hello to “Brave it till you make it”. 

Because trying new things or taking action even when you’re not ‘feeling’ overly positive is brave and by being brave you demonstrate Confidence. 

Coaching tip: 

Avoid self deprecating language like “Fake it till you make it” and replace it with positive affirmation. 

Now that you’re tuned into it, you’ll notice a lot of women saying “Fake it till you make it”.

In fact, there are about 460,000 uses of variations of #fakeittillyoumakeit on Instagram.

(You’ll see some of these are about make-up tutorials or eyelash extensions, in which case, go for it, they’re fake eyelashes after all). But MANY of these instances are women deflecting the credit after they took a confident action. 

Next time a colleague or a friend says “Fake it till you make it”, I want you to look them in the eyes and say “No, you didn’t fake it. You were amazing today, and you should be proud of what you did”.

And next time you receive a compliment, if you feel like you’re about to say the words “I just faked my way through it”, stop… take a breath… Think about what you just achieved. Instead, a confident response is, “Thank you. My preparation really paid off today”.

Women need to support each other. We need to stop this culture of deflecting our success onto luck or being fake.

So it’s time to say goodbye “Fake it till you make it” and hello to acknowledging and owning your confident steps.

Because you’re not a fake, you’re the real deal. 

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