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

It’s commonly & politely intended as encouragement, or a phrase to build Confidence in others.

But the truth is… “Fake it till you make it” actually harms your confidence and career without you even realising it. That’s because it’s a form of negative self-talk not positive reinforcement.

It’s a silent assassin though, given it’s become such a popular and even habitual phrase that rolls off the tongue, therefore it’s true impact isn’t recognised right away.   

Here are 3 reasons why “Fake it till you make it” harms your confidence and career:

  1. It’s self-deprecating. When you refer to yourself (or someone else refers to you) as ‘faking it’, you’re training your brain to believe it and discount the action you just took. The words you use to describe yourself and your actions have a profound impact on how you think and feel. You can think of words like weapons, they either serve you (or someone else) or they sabotage you. So “Fake it till you make it” is a form of negative self-talk, you’re not reinforcing your confidence, you’re actually subconsciously sabotaging yourself. 
  2. It triggers (or feeds) Imposter Syndrome – The key hallmark of Imposter Syndrome is a persistent fear of being exposed as an intellectual fake, phony or fraud (hence the name) despite evidence of your competence. Those experiencing Imposter Syndrome are blocked from truly internalising their success, therefore they don’t feel worthy of it and that one day they’ll be ‘found out’. So, by using the word ‘fake’ in any context you’re inadvertently calling yourself a liar or a fraud, because “fake” means what you are portraying is not real. It’s like adding fuel to an already simmering mental bonfire.
  3. You don’t acknowledge your wins. When you say, “I faked my way through it”, you’re telling yourself that you are not worthy of self-recognition, praise or accolades that might come your way. Which means you’re also missing out on the confidence boost you deserve from taking that action. There was nothing ‘fake’ about your action, you turned up, you delivered or performed, you did the work. And regardless of how we felt, it doesn’t take away from the action just performed. The only way to build a strong baseline of confidence is to acknowledge your efforts, steps, results and/or lessons along the way. You need to bank those experiences and celebrate your wins. If you don’t you risk stalling our own growth and denting your self-esteem.

Now I know what you may be thinking, that when most women use “Fake it till you make it”, they mean “projecting Confidence when you’re secretly nervous as hell on the inside”.

But just because you didn’t feel confident doesn’t mean you didn’t build confidence, because confidence fundamentally is built off action, regardless of feelings.

Your feelings are not facts, the action you just took is the facts. Which is why it is incredibly important for you to acknowledge the action and not dismiss it by saying ‘I just faked it’.

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 experienced and very competent in your field.

You only feel inadequate or not worthy.

When it comes to confidence you might have ‘felt like you were faking it’ but you weren’t, you turned up and delivered.

Your feelings will eventually catch up to your actions, and your Confidence will grow once you start reaffirming yourself. 

So how can you start today? 

By avoiding self-deprecating language like “Fake it till you make it” and replacing it with a positive affirmation. 

Say hello to “Brave it till you make it” And to acknowledging and owning your confident steps. Because you’re not a fake, you’re the real deal.