AJ's User Manual

Imposter Syndrome, Confidence Culture, and Other Positive BS

Molly and Angela are calling bullshit again. This time, it’s all about the toxic side of positive psychology, how confidence culture is making us feel worse, and acknowledging that conversations around “imposter syndrome,” as it has been defined by the current social narrative, might be holding us back rather than propelling us forward. 

Fake it ‘til you make it doesn’t work

As usual, Molly isn’t holding back. She explains how “fake it ‘til you make it” used to be her life mantra. Then she realized that this was simply playing pretend and would never work. She says, “You cannot fake anything ‘til you make it because you’re never gonna fucking making it!” (32:02). And, Angela adds in that being outside of your integrity, your zone of consent will eventually lead to burnout affecting “every single aspect of your life” (32:24).

That’s not confidence—that’s Bullshit!

Angela explains where she thinks coaching has got it wrong. “Telling yourself that if you pep yourself up, if you are positive enough, if you put a smile on your face, and you do all of the work—that toxic positive stuff—then you will be confident. That’s Bullshit!” And Molly chimes in that, “you are not allowing anybody’s experiences or lives to be a factor and that is not how humans work” (44:06). Ultimately, having a lack of confidence doesn’t make you defective. It is not your personal responsibility to be confident within a system that is built upon the false pretense of confidence as portrayed by the “traditional masculine, white male, heterosexual, cisgender, wealthy, boss, man” (46:25). 

Ethical coaching and critical thinkers

Oof, the term “coach” can be loaded and has become more so in the last few years. And there’s a reason for that. Angela says, “A good coach says, You know what? This is not in your best interest” (22:43) and Molly adds, “if you and your client cannot see eye to eye, you no longer can provide the service that you said you were going to do.” All this to address coaches who use positive psychology as the foundation of their coaching without addressing the intersections that clients experience, which is harmful and unethical. Angela adds, “it’s our responsibility to address the wider issues of what’s happening within a system rather than the [just] the individuals themselves” and points out the importance of critical thinking when choosing who you will work with and possibly ending that relationship if you realize it is harming you.