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Are You an Impostor?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to pose the question that rips apart so many actors and celebrities as they struggle with “Am I an impostor?

First a quick update:

“Charlie Sheen – a danger to his kids?”
Listen to the interview I gave this morning to WVRX-FM 105.9 The Edge – The Kirk McEwen & Mike O’Meara Morning Show – after Brooke Mueller files a restraining order alleging Sheen was abusive to her and removed his kids from Sheen’s home.  This week I warned that Sheen is not just a danger to himself but potentially a danger to the people around him, including his children. Sheen said “I will murder for you, love you violently, defend you violently, with absolute hatred.”

Also watch the interview I gave to Australia’s The Morning Show about Charlie Sheen and read the article on my blog “Charlie Sheen believes he is a loser”.

Now, let’s talk about one of the greatest struggles that faces all of us and which seems to derail actors and celebrities almost all of the time: the question “Am I an impostor?”

This past week, I have been inundated with requests for interviews (radio, television and print) to give my insights and perspective on Charlie Sheen. In an hour-long interview to Filippo Voltaggio: “LIFEChanges with Filippo (LCWF)” on the BBS Radio Network, I revealed the link between what we subconsciously believe we deserve, our success and how we respond to it; notice how many celebrities and successful people sabotage their success?

Listen to the interview here: 

In 1987, speaking about the making of the film “Wall Street” Charlie Sheen said some very revealing things about himself and his self-doubt.

“I’d begun drinking all the time. We shot in New York City, so I’d be out to the bars every night till 3 or 4 a.m., then try to show up for a 6 o’clock call to stand toe to toe with Michael Douglas and handle 50% of a scene. How could that work? Yet there I was, the guy that struck gold, looking around at dawn to find that the only one still partying was me. I’d be drinking away, doing blow [cocaine], popping pills, and telling myself I wasn’t an addict, because there wasn’t a needle stuck in my arm. Talk about mixing up fantasy and reality! My true addiction was alcohol. The extra toxic boosters just helped me shore up the wall between my celebrity self and my real self. The questions I was running from were: ‘Is this success all a fluke? Had I been fooling everybody so far? Will I get caught?’ It was easy to get hammered and messed up. But in doing so, I buried my self-respect, I buried my self-esteem, I buried my creative drive, and I damned near buried myself.”

Almost 24 years later, has much really changed for Charlie Sheen?

His drug and alcohol habits seem to have become embedded and worsened and his self-doubt became like a virus pervading and destroying his consciousness. Yes, Sheen seems to be displaying delusional behavior and speeches which might easily be attributed to the effects and withdrawal effects of his drug use and abuse. However, there is a theme in all of his interviews which reveals one of his underlying problems. In every interview (Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, Radar online, Howard Stern, Dan Patrick and the Alex Jones show), Sheen obsessively rants about winning and being a winner. In fact, he refers to his superiority “I am a rock star from Mars”; says he has “Tiger blood…Adonis DNA…a 10,000 year old brain.” Of course, these are delusions possibly directly attributable to his drug use but, the constant obsessive reference to being a winner and winning only serves to reveal that Charlie Sheen subconsciously believes he is a loser and; at some deeper level, not expressed on a conscious level, Sheen questions not only his self-worth but his value when he responds to his critics by boasting about the car he drives and the girls he has at night. Sheen is actually, desperately seeking the public’s approval and validation; he is trying to convince everyone else so he can convince himself that he is a winner and not a fraud, not an impostor.

At a subconscious level, Sheen is haunted by his own self-doubt, by his own words, which were probably the very pain (or one key part of it) that led him to the drug and alcohol use so many years ago:

“Is this success all a fluke? Had I been fooling everybody so far? Will I get caught?”

In my interview with Filippo Voltaggio, I explained that this is something that plagues almost every actor, model, singer, dancer, celebrity or other successful person; the questions “Am I an impostor?” and “Will they find out about the real me?”

The more success, adulation, fame, power and money that one receives the worse the self-doubt becomes and the worse the underlying and unresolved issues become. In other words, instead of the success convincing Sheen that he is worthy, it only serves to make him worse and also leads to narcissism and The Fame Factor – delusions of grandeur and denial. Narcissism stems from deep deficits in self-esteem. When we subconsciously don’t believe we deserve the success, we won’t be able to enjoy it and we will find a way to sabotage it – as do so many celebrities by turning to drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. In turn, the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol destroys their judgment, character and values; Charlie Sheen has also admitted that he is using Ambien; Jack Nicholson warned Heath Ledger against using it after Nicholson claims he almost killed himself.

Even the seasoned and seemingly grounded people suffer from “Am I an impostor?”

Sir Anthony Hopkins (Academy Award winner) has admitted to his own self-doubt, his struggle with negative emotions and to his battle facing his inner resistance: “Am I for real?” Read my newsletter from January 2011 “Conquering self-doubt”.

Unfortunately, the struggle with “Am I an impostor” or “Am I for real?” faces all of us. We all fear at a deeper level that maybe we are not that great, maybe we don’t deserve the success, the love, the attention or the good things we achieve in life. And when we believe or feel that way, we either don’t take action to get what we want, we are unable to enjoy it or we sabotage it with self-destructive behavior. (Listen to the interview I gave about The Law of Deservedness)

In the interview I gave to Filippo Voltaggio I also revealed that we don’t need to learn anything new, we need to unlearn everything we have ever been taught i.e. all of the negative programming which created the self-doubt and the belief that we are not good enough or an impostor.

We can, though, also soften the blow of self-doubt and quiet its screaming voice when we focus on making a difference, living our purpose and using our talent and gifts. Self-doubt is common but the way we respond determines our result. When we continually think about ourselves and focus on ourselves and how people will react to us, we become paralyzed unable to use our talents and gifts to better the world.

Many year ago, Charlie Sheen said something that now reverberates in his obsessive media appearances: “But I care what people think, we all do.”

And therein lays the problem: beware of seeking other people’s approval or validation.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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