For some time now, I have been working with several ladies to help them make better financial decisions. Over a 3 month period we have 6 video sessions together, during which we discuss their relationship with money. I also use a fun quiz to ascertain my client’s relationships with money. One such lady, who I have been working with this week, took the quiz with me and her results showed she had a carefree approach to money and life.
This attitude seemed to stem back to her childhood, and was now informing how she handled discussions about money in her business. As a business owner she felt uncomfortable talking about money with her clients. Talking about this with her sparked a conversation in my Facebook group, and the overwhelming response when I asked was that many women in business are feeling the same; we are struggling to have important conversations about money. This is quite a common feeling amongst women known as imposter syndrome, and is driven by fear.
I spoke recently with Anna Parker-Naples who works with women in business, dealing with their fears and feelings of imposter syndrome. She is an award winning Neuro Linguistic programming business coach, and helps her clients achieve success, visibility, transformation and recognition, having herself experienced very bad life experiences.
Tell us about yourself Anna…
I work in the field of mindset, and the reason I got started is because I was disabled and had been told I wouldn’t walk again. I was desperately low, and I felt I had to do something to help myself cope and to make where I was in my life feel okay. I got involved with hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which helped me to change the thoughts and language I used in my every day life.
The realisation I had was that I was talking a lot about feeling stuck, not just because I was in a wheelchair, but it was something I’d been talking about for a long time in terms of my work, creativity and the things that I was capable of. What happened is that as a result of changing my language from being stuck to being free and being able, and in terms of my pain I started talking about healing, I recovered very quickly. I was actually back on my feet in weeks went on to have an incredible career in niche industry of voice acting. I have won various award in Hollywood and America because I dealt with my fear about being stuck (a lot of it coming own to this thing about imposter syndrome). I knew I was talented, but part of me also felt not good enough and that I had to keep proving I was, and that actually drives things away instead of giving you the success you want. So what we are going to talk about today, in terms of imposter syndrome, absolutely changed things in my life and in my career.
Can you tell us more about your journey?
I was in a wheelchair as a result of PGP (pelvic girdle pain), which many people experience in pregnancy. However mine was so severe that I was told by the hospital about 2 months before my son was born that I should expect never to walk again, and if I did somehow walk again I would never run and should expect my life to be very limited. That was very hard to hear. Doctors have a lot of power and responsibility, so I took what they told me as gospel.
What happened to me in the room with the NLP practitioner was that he challenged what the doctor had told me; “What if that’s not true? And if that’s not true, what else in your life might not be true that you’ve been telling yourself.?”
I actually suffered with PGP during both my pregnancies too, and was on crutches. Obviously nowhere near as severe as your experience, but it’s pretty horrendous. The after effects are tough too. So how did you begin to explore NLP as an option?
Well, I didn’t even really know of the concept of NLP, but I did understand about hypnotherapy. And that’s how he (the practitioner) had advertised himself. I’d experienced hypnotherapy in the past with sleep and sleep walking, so I has an understanding that something at a subconscious level could change how I felt.
Even at the time, in the room that day, no one told me that it was an NLP session, all I knew was that I’d had a conversation which had triggered something in me to start seeing the world differently, and to start seeing my behaviours and the way I felt differently. I came to see that actually I was responsible for a lot of the things that were making me feel so stuck and that it was manifesting itself into being physically stuck. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a condition and I didn’t have pain, but it did mean that my brain saw it as the absolute worst that could happen. I know it sounds odd, but that is how I see what happened to me.
I find it incredibly fascinating. This whole concept of medicine vs alternative therapies. I think NLP is hugely misunderstood as ‘woo-woo’. Tell us a bit more about NLP sessions, and the kinds of things you’d expect to be asked.
For me, it starts with listening to the language someone uses, their lives and challenges. Being really aware of their language. I was working with someone yesterday who was fearful of her work being judged and was worried that she was vulnerable. She didn’t realise how much of this language was creeping into her every day speech.
If you’re constantly telling your brain that you’re vulnerable, your brain is going to start to look for those moments when you were vulnerable, and you constantly feel under attack. In the first NLP session that I had years ago, the practitioner asked me how often I was talking about my pain, and actually it was an embarrassing amount. He asked what would happen if I didn’t engage on conversations about my pain.
People were calling me specifically to ask about my pain, understandably, so of course my brain was always focused on those areas of pain. When I was shown that there were lost of moments on my day when I wasn’t in pain made me realise that when I was telling people I was ‘always’ in pain, that wasn’t actually true. We then started to work on the language I used around my pain and recovery. We catalogue feelings very differently, and our sense go into how we file those experiences in our minds.
We talked about the difference in how the word pain and the word healing manifested visually in my mind. Your subconscious mind is responsible for all of your programming, so if you’re telling your subconscious that you’re always in pain it draws on all those painful memories, but when you talk about healing your brain reacts to that. When I saw that I was making rapid changes by doing this, I was so determined that I was going to do this thing that was making me feel better.
The doctors were wrong that I couldn’t heal, so I started to think, what if I could have the career I wanted and be a mother, what if I could earn money and be creative. The doors were opened and I started to see that things I had always thought I couldn’t do actually were entirely possible,
So what happened in your career at this time? Were you a professional voice actor then?
No, I’d worked as an actor before I had kids, but had been out of work for 3 years. So I started to think; how can I be an actor and always be at home with my kids? Instead of saying I cant because I’m a mother, need to be at home, or can’t earn enough because I’m an actor and actors don’t earn much, I started to think about what I could do. I already had skills that I wasn’t accessing or acknowledging, so I threw myself into voice over work. Within a year I was working for lots of UK and national top brands. I also started to work on audio books which in america is huge, and I decided if I was going to do something I wanted to be the best at it. Letting go of imposter syndrome enabled me to achieve everything I have so far.
Did you have any moments of financial fear holding you back?
It was about saying that as an actor I can’t earn a lot of money and it’s amazing what happens if you recognise that’s not true. What happens when you start to believe you deserve to earn more and can earn more?
Did you look to see who else was earning well from this work?
Yes. It was interesting to see people offering work on Fiverr and others offering the same for thousands of pounds. I ended up talking to a woman on plane who was a business coach and she gave me some great advice about where to focus my energy and time. Most people won’t go for the big money because of imposter syndrome, but it’s fantastic what happens if you decide you are good enough.
Such a good point. So many people are so afraid of charging for their services, and we’re not confident in the value of our skills and businesses. I guess you come across this in your coaching?
It’s about going back to your own beliefs about money. Very often our bad feelings about money can be pinpointed back to our childhood. I had an experience in my childhood that meant I felt that money was very dangerous. Subconsciously I was afraid of earning more money because of this childhood experience. Lots of people have it drummed into them that money doesn’t grow on trees,so believe that to earn money must be hard. But what if that’s not true?
If you think about cultural influences around women and wealth,and it’s so hard to think of representations of women who are perceived to be good and high earners.
One of the things I work on with people is to ask what would happen if you had enough money to be stable, and often it comes down to philanthropic things. If people had the money, they would help others, and that’s their higher purpose. It’s like seeing a light bulb switch on, because thinking about helping others makes thoughts around money feel much more positive.
Bringing the purpose and value back to what you’re charging is so important.
I think in terms of charging, imposter syndrome is huge, and it’s all about fear. The truth is, none of those fears are true, it’s just that because something has happened to affect our subconscious programs, our fight or flight instinct is trying to protect us. Changing the messages our subconscious works from changes everything and is a powerful thing to do.
How do you suggest people start telling themselves positive messages?
The quickest way is to talk to someone, perhaps through an NLP session or similar. Even one or two sessions can make a huge difference. But if you can’t, or aren’t in a position to do so, then write down all your thoughts about money and think about how you can re-frame those. You have to acknowledge those feelings and beliefs are there before you can change them. Journaling is helpful, as is hypnosis and deep thought. Hypnosis is a great way to bypass your inner critic.
What are some of the common things you hear from people?
It’s often things like I could never charge that, that’s too expensive for me, or my clients would never pay that.
Thank you so much for sharing with us today Anna. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you or work with you?
I’m also about to open ticket sales for a live show on 27th April in London called Invisible to Invincible which will be a workshop style event all about dealing with imposter syndrome so that you can grow and be comfortable in growing your own business from almost nothing.