• Leila Ainge

Who are you thinking about?

Have you seen the advice tellling you to think about your ideal client?

Focusing your mind when you draft an email helps you to better connect with your audience.

In fact, thinking of a specific person is going to work for you if the thoughts that come with that image bolster your positive self beliefs, for example, I can help this person or this person will love my product.

But be honest, are you flooded with positive self belief when you craft a message or a post?

image: Karsten Winegear

What if thinking about a specific person fills you with fear? This is exactly what happens when Imposter Phenomenon swoops in. Imagining an online audience can be overwhelming, especially when you are thinking about specific people.

Am I making the right impression? will I make a fool of myself?

Thinking about this, (It's called online impression management if you want a name for your deliberation) can take up an extraordinary amount of time when you doubt yourself, and there are various ways of coping with the overwhelm that look a bit like:

  • Avoidance

  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

  • Holding back on what you really think

  • Negative rumination once you hit send or publish

If thinking specifically triggers negative beliefs then you have a problem!

The latest cyber psychology research highlights what is going on when we think about sending messages. In a study using instagram posting , a bunch of researchers including psychologists, marketeers and technology experts confirmed people often have specific imagined users they want to impress.

Turns out that good advice is naturally occurring behaviour, at least online.

But, and this is where it get interesting, it lingers beyond the crafting of the post. The people who took part in that study waited for, a 'like', a comment or a share from the person they imagined sending the their message to. Waiting for specific people to validate their post.

When that feedback didn't come, things got interesting…

Participants who were able to brush off and accept the absence of feedback from their imagined user were more likely to stop considering them in future posts. Suggesting that some healthy processing of the situation helps us alter our view of the ideal audience, the mind nudges us to move on. But if you are stuck in a rumination loop then this might not be happening as simply as it needs to.

But what happened when the specific person they thought about did like their post?


To really feel a dopamine hit after hitting send, feedback had to exceed initial expectations. It took more than a 'like' to feel validated.

So what does this mean for that Imposter Feeling?

Turn the question on it's head. Is there a specific imagined user you think about every time you post? Have you updated this image based on the absence of feedback? do you need to manually nudge that process along? Better still, think about the charactersitics of your audience when you hit send. See my earlier blog on connecting through values

And if you feel like an imposter when you communicate, try use a strategy that doesn't rely on validation from one or two key individuals.

Write down and revisit your expectations

Real-life: One of my imposter clients used a journal to track their thought process around posting for three days. The result? they were more likely to fear, how their posts would be perceived from specific people. Importantly these specific people were not ideal clients but competitors.

When my client did think about ideal clients it spiralled into a hundred 'what-if' scenarios, instead they created three bullet points describing client hopes and fears and linked these up with their direct services before getting started.

In summary

  1. Personna's and Mental images work best when they are linked to your positive self beliefs.

  2. It’s easier and healthier to move on when you stop looking for validation.

  3. Be generous with feedback on Instagram, don’t hold back if you want to spread a bit of joy.

Ready to take action? Book in for a free coaching consultation, I can help you break down and understand the habits around your posting.

Side by side coaching

It's been dubbed ecopsychology, there are many benefits to being outdoors and taking part in green exercrise, but there's something really powerful about coaching talks that happen when we go walking. From feeling the rythym of the body moving, synchronicity and feelings of connectedness, walking side by side increases creativity and wellbeing.

I am now taking bookings for the following London dates

20th June, 13th July, 9th August, September 7th and 19th, October 3rd and 19th

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