‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ is a common mantra. When I first started practising as a hypnotherapist, faking it was definitely what I did. I didn’t lie or directly mislead anyone, but I did speak as if I had the experience and confidence that I would gain over time. Don’t get me wrong, I was qualified. I’d attended training at a good school and I had the required certificates and insurance. What I lacked was clinical experience.
I did believe that I could help my clients, but I was nervous when I first started. Luckily for me I was already an experienced complementary therapist, so meeting and greeting clients, gaining rapport and running a practice didn’t faze me. Neither was I troubled if people saw me for help with something that I felt I knew a bit about (and for which there were abundant scripts) such as weight loss, anxiety or confidence issues.
What did make me uncomfortable was when clients asked if I could help with things I knew little or nothing about. I felt that I had to have a good knowledge and understanding of their issue before I could help them; I had a fear of getting caught out not knowing enough. But how do you get experience in anything? You get good at something (at anything) by doing it. So, on the advice of my tutor, I held my head up, acted as if I was confident and experienced and in time, I became so.
The message of ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ is an important and valuable one. It’s not about being dishonest or a fraud; it’s about acting ‘as if you can’ in order to inspire confidence in your clients. If you ask questions, listen to the answers (really listen) and then respond to what you’ve heard and seen without judgement, then you will probably do a good job. If you act as if you are confident, your client is likely to expect good results, and they will probably experience good results as a consequence of their belief.
By contrast, if you act as if you don’t believe you can help your client, you lack self confidence or are unsure what you are doing, they are less likely to expect or experience the change they seek. The power of belief and acting ‘as if’ is something that is not about being dishonest; it is about what is most helpful for your client. In turn this positive ‘act’ (or approach) will help you to build your professional confidence and practice.