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A Health Coach’s Guide to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

by: Jenn Maples
Last Updated: June 23, 2022

It’s a new year, a chance for a fresh start, and if you’re anything like me, you’re confidently telling yourself, “I got this!” Unfortunately, your subconscious might also be telling you, “what if they find out I don’t know what I’m doing?” or “why would anyone want coaching advice from me?” or “I don’t even look like a health coach.”

You may not know it by its official name, but you likely know the feeling. Imposter Syndrome is that gut-wrenching feeling that you’re not enough or that you’ll be embarrassingly exposed as a fraud. It can affect anyone too, not just health coaches.

But you don’t have to let Imposter Syndrome derail your plans to become a successful health coach—you just have to know how to overcome it. And in this guide, I’ll show you how.

Imposter Syndrome stems from your limiting beliefs (which, just so you know, everyone has). These are the stories you tell yourself based on beliefs you’ve compiled from your past, your environment, or even from the time you spend comparing yourself to others on social media.

  • If you’re still working on your health transformation, you might believe you don’t look like a health coach.
  • If you’ve never stepped out of your comfort zone, you might believe you’re not good at trying new things.
  • If you have 53 Instagram followers and another health coach has 53K, you might believe that people don’t want to hear what you have to say.

Think of it this way—if one of your clients (or a friend or family member) came to you and said they’ll never be healthy, it would be pretty clear to you that they had some limiting beliefs around good health. As a coach, you know how to help them overcome their beliefs. Here’s how to overcome yours:

Step 1. Acknowledge It

Be aware of your feelings of inadequacy when they pop up, without reacting to them. Awareness is different than acceptance, so you can have thoughts go through your mind without believing them. Also, think about why you’re having those thoughts. Are you trying something completely new? Are you growing in new, positive ways? Have people told you before that you can’t or shouldn’t do something?

Like we talk about in our new section on Imposter Syndrome in the Primal Health Coach Institute curriculum, you’re stepping into a new version of yourself—one that most people aren’t brave enough to even try. So be kind to yourself as you learn and just acknowledge the feelings you’re having.

Pro tip: Christine Hassler shares her expert advice on overcoming Imposter Syndrome in day 5 of PHCI’s Virtual Masterclass. Sign up for the class here.

Step 2. Reframe It

Learning how to change your self-talk is the best way to take control of self-doubt. Instead of saying, “I don’t have enough experience,” ask yourself if that’s really true, then approach it from a different, less harsh perspective. You might reframe the original statement as, “I’m learning more and more every day” or “I know enough to help my clients right now.” Instead of, “I’m not cut out to be a business owner,” you could reframe it in a positive way like, “I’ve never owned a business before, but I have all the tools I need to put myself out there.” And instead of “my practice isn’t perfect yet; I can’t start until it is,” you might say, “no one’s practice is perfect when they start; I’ll adjust it as I go!”

What are the limiting beliefs holding you back? Write a couple of them down and try reframing them in a few different ways, or practice reframing these other common Imposter Syndrome statements:

  • I don’t have a unique point of view
  • I’m not important enough
  • I don’t know anything about opportunities for health coaches
  • I’m under-qualified

Pro tip: For even more information on reframing, check out Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is. It’s a little woo-woo but a good read.

Step 3: Believe It

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear shares a key ingredient for making changes in your life—and that’s believing you’re the person you want to be. He tells a story of two people trying to quit smoking, and when offered a cigarette, one person says, “no thanks, I’m trying to quit.” The other person says, “I’m not a smoker.”

The same idea holds true for your beliefs about being a health coach. Instead of telling yourself that you’re trying to make it as a health coach, visualize and really feel what it’s like to have already made it. Do you feel energized by sharing knowledge with your niche audience? Do you feel proud of your exceptional listening skills? Do you thrive on seeing your clients lose weight, get off their meds, or pick up a pair of dumbbells at age 72? Visualize it, feel it, and believe it.

Pro tip: Watch this TED talk on body language and confidence, where social psychologist Amy Cuddy recommends ‘faking it ’til you become it.’

Step 4: Do It

You may not feel ready to enroll in a health coaching program, launch your business, post more on social media, or do whatever it is you’ve been chewing on for way too long. Heck, you may never feel perfectly ready—but it’s important to do it anyway. In fact, once you start, the less scary and uncomfortable it will feel, and you’ll have more proof under your belt that you actually can do it. This action alone starts to reprogram your beliefs about your ability to be successful.

Also, keep in mind all the incremental steps you’ve taken to get to where you are now. What have you learned (about yourself or health coaching) that you didn’t know a year ago? What limitations did you have then that you don’t have as much of now? Most of the time, it’s your own insecurities that keep you from moving forward. And knowing that you’re constantly improving is an incredibly empowering thought.

Pro tip: Nerves are the same energy as excitement. So instead of feeling nervous, you can interpret it as feeling excited, like Simon Sinek describes in this video.

In Summary

Everyone suffers from Imposter Syndrome from time to time, so if you’re dealing with it right now, there are two things you should know: one, you’re not alone; and two, it’s easier than you think to overcome it. The difference between people who are successful and those who stay stuck in self-doubt lies in taking action. You’re the creator of your own story, and you have the power and the tools to rewrite it.

Make this the year you share your gift with the world by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Acknowledge your feelings 
  • Step 2: Reframe your self-talk
  • Step 3: Believe you’re the person you want to be
  • Step 4: Do it without hesitation

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