On May 13, 2018, (Mother’s Day) Rev. Vincent Fuqua gave a talk to those assembled at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. Below is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
It is good to be here. Hello to everyone here at the Community Miracles Center, to everyone on ACIM Gather, and to all the folks who will watch this later on YouTube.
First, I want to give a shout out to all the incredible mothers who are out there in the world today, and even those who are no longer in this world that we are in. Happy Mother’s Day to all of them, and especially a Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. She is no longer with us, but I know her spirit is here with me and with all of us. So, yay mothers! (“Yay moms!” Applause.)
Today I decided, actually I was guided, to talk about our imposter self. I am aware that the Spirit works in mysterious ways, and that phrase has kept coming up in my head multiple times as I was thinking about preparing this talk. I finally said, “Alright, Spirit. I guess you want me to say something about it.” So that is what I am going to do today.
I am not going to talk just about the traditional definition of what an imposter self is. The traditional definition of an imposter is one that assumes false identity or title for the purpose of deception. For me the imposter self is actually more about our self doubt. I am also speaking from a psychological perspective and as a therapist who works with clients who deal with what we call the imposter syndrome. I’m looking at it from that perspective and talking about how we deal with our imposter self. The imposter self is about our own self-doubt. We accomplish something but for some reason believe we don’t deserve it. We feel like we are a fraud because of that. Even though everything has shown that we are able, because of something internal going on with us, we don’t believe it. We don’t accept it. So that’s what I want to talk about today. I recognize that is something I have come across in my mind many times over the years I’ve been in this world.
The thing to remind ourselves is that though it happens to everyone, part of the reason why some people may be in this imposter state of mind is that it specifically happens more to those who tend to be oppressed in a society. We’ve been told so many times how we may not be good, or how we may be lazy. All these negative things get implanted in our minds so they stay stuck there. This includes women, those of a minority race, or those who belong to a lower socioeconomic status. All these things happen to individuals who may have been oppressed by what we consider the dominant society. Here in the United States, that is usually considered to be white men. Specifically straight, white men are seen as the dominant group in the society we are in.
Because of the way oppression happens, people who are considered vulnerable take all the negativity in. It attacks from generation to generation and stays stuck in our minds. We try to do things to get out of it.
I think the thing is that in this world, because of how our society is set up and because of the pressure to do certain things, when we do something that is an important accomplishment which feels good, that imposter self, that fraud, comes up in our minds. “No, no, no. You actually aren’t good at that. No, no, no. You are terrible. You actually are horrible.” That’s what we listen to, take in, and believe. “Yes. That is actually who I am. That was not my accomplishment. I am not good.”
I know for me that has been something I’ve been dealing with over the past few months. Whether it has to do with my work life, with my schooling, or with my being a minister here at the Community Miracles Center, I’ve been dealing with my doubts. I realized that in all aspects of my life, at some point, this self-doubt enters my mind. Even though I know deep down that I have accomplished good things in my life, yet for some reason the doubt still enters my thinking.
For us, when you think of the imposter self, we think of it as something very negative. You can think of it from an A Course In Miracles perspective as our ego. It’s our ego actually taking over and putting all those doubts in our minds, and the whole idea is for us to get out of that thinking. We know that we do this by being Course students and utilizing the Course principles as much as possible. We use the Spirit to shift and change our thoughts that enter into our minds.
The A Course In Miracles tells us this. “Direct communication was broken because you had made another voice through another will.” (OrEd.Tx.5.22)You know for me it is really about learning how to let go of those negative thoughts. I need to bring the Spirit perspective to these thoughts and not approach my accomplishments from the ego perspective, the imposter. You know one of the things I recognize is I have been giving talks here for ten plus years now. It’s been quite a while. Yet I still have doubts sometimes. Do I really get and understand the Course enough to be giving out the message that we are supposed to be giving out? Do I present myself as someone who says, “Yes, I got this down. I know what I’m saying.”? Even though I’ve had people tell me a lot of appreciative things for what I have said over the years, my self-doubt enters and I think, “Wow. I feel like a fraud.”
The reason that doubt comes up for me is because I know there are A Course In Miracles students who know the Course like the back of their hand. They can quote something from the Course in a moment, at the drop of a hat. I can’t do that. My brain, my memory, is just not that way. I can’t quote the Course like that. So in my mind I tell myself that I’m not a good Course student because I can’t come up with all these quotes. Then I realized and understood that my communication from the Spirit is not about understanding and memorizing all these different quotes that exist in the Course. My communication from the Spirit is about living what the Course is teaching. It’s about me applying the Course to all aspects of my life and being able to use the Course in a way that I’m modeling it out to the world.
That is how A Course In Miracles helps me to let go of self-doubt. When the imposter self wants to say I’m a fraud, I just remember the path that the Spirit wants me on is different. I am not meant to learn everything in the Course that is out there. I am not supposed to be able to quote every single thing. My purpose is just to live it to the best of my ability, to live the life that the Course has set out for me, that Spirit has set out for me. I had to remember that and to accept it. That’s hard sometimes, but I’m getting better at being able to do that and to understand.
“You have chosen to be in a state of opposition in which opposites are possible.” (OrEd.Tx.5.22) So the truth of the matter is that all we have to do, all I have to do, is to live the life the Course has set for us. We need to allow ourselves to be vigilant against those thoughts that enter our minds and want to tell us something different. I need to accept that I don’t always have to know every single aspect of things, or every single aspect of the Course. I can choose how I perceive things. I can choose to go into my Spirit mind instead of my imposter mind. That’s up to me. That’s up to us.
“Freedom to choose is the same power as freedom to create ….” (OrEd.Tx.5.23) We have the power to choose. We have the power to make whatever decisions that we want. When those self-doubts come into our minds, or we feel that sense of fraud for some reason or other, take a moment and look within and see. “Wait a minute here. That’s not who I am. (Rev. Vincent points in the audience to Rev. Rudy, an accomplished musician.) I am an incredible musician. Absolutely remarkable. (Rev. Vincent points to Rev. Tony, the Executive Minister of the CMC.) A remarkable leader of a Center that continues to blossom. (Rev. Vincent points to Rev. Peter, a special education public school teacher.) And an individual who loves teaching no matter how challenging that can be. (Rev. Vincent points to Rev. Dusa Althea, a professional body worker.) Or someone who does incredible bodywork to heal, (Rev. Vincent points to Rev. Alicia, who does beautiful artwork.) An incredible artist. We’re all incredible at things when we put our minds to it. That’s who we are. Yet, the imposter self wants to enter and teach us differently.
“The voice they put in their minds was not the voice of His Will for which the Holy Spirit speaks.” (OrEd.Tx.5.23) This quote came at the right time when I needed it. As many of you know, I got a new position at my job which I love very, very much. I worked for this position for many years and finally got it. Then I realized that there are times where I doubt that I should be in this position, when I question that. Yet, I know that I was meant to be there.
There was a situation that happened this week that got me into that doubt again. Part of the work I do is looking at health disparities between African-Americans and other races here in San Francisco. Part of my work is looking at how racism and trauma affect the disparity between populations that are here in San Francisco. Part of my job is to give presentations regarding this. It takes a lot of energy to be able to do those.
The interesting thing is that this is something that I have always wanted to do. Yet once I actually got the opportunity to do these presentations, I started doubting myself when I went out to do them. I wonder if I am the right person to be doing them. I wonder if am I giving the message that is really needed within different communities that exist here in San Francisco. I’m there just to create an awareness of these health disparities.
So what happened this week was that I had to give a dry run to a select group of people who I would also be giving a bigger presentation to on May 21st. Before I did the bigger presentation, they wanted me to give an overview of what I was going to talk about. So I went in and I did the overview to these individuals. I gave my presentation then they gave me their feedback of what they thought of the presentation.
When they were giving me their feedback regrading the presentation and their thoughts on it, my imposter self’s doubts started coming in. They were being very critical. They had their thoughts about me and how I should say this or that. All these things were coming up. So I was thinking, “Yep. See. There we go.” I thought, “I knew what I was talking about yet these people are picking me apart like I really don’t know.” That is the doubt that goes into our minds. In reality, all that I was getting was constructive feedback.
Also what was happening to me that I hadn’t recognized was that I was becoming frustrated and a little annoyed with some of the questions. In my mind I felt they really didn’t understand what was going on with disparity among African-Americans here in San Francisco, because none of them there were African-American. In my mind, I was thinking “Yeah, you are trying to tell me, an African-American, what needs to be done.” Things like that were going through my mind.
There was an incident that happened with one of my colleagues who I had worked with for many, many years. He said “You know what I think you need to do at the end of your presentation? List all of the strengths of black people in a community and stuff like that. I think that’s what you need to do.” I was sitting there thinking about how to react to that. The purpose of my presentation was to give them an understanding of the disparities that actually exist here in San Francisco. This is not uplifting. It’s not a positive, uplifting talk. The fact is that African-Americans make up nine out of ten people dealing with disparities here in San Francisco. So it’s not an uplifting talk. It’s just not. That’s just the reality of it. Yet my colleague wanted me to end with something about the strengths of black people.
My colleague saw my reaction regarding their suggestion. My first response was “I will talk to you about this later.” This person went on and talked about other things but in the mean time, I was seething inside. Something just did not feel right. Part of it was the internal dialogue that was happening in my mind. I had my own self-doubts and was feeling like I was a fraud. I thought maybe I wasn’t presenting the information the way it was supposed to be presented. All those doubt thoughts kept coming up.
Then Spirit spoke and said, “You need to address this. You can’t just let it go by.” So I did go back and I did address it. I let this person know how I felt about what they had said regarding my presentation that was going to happen on May 21st.
A Course In Miracles tells us this. “The call to return is stronger than the call to depart, but it speaks in a different way.” (OrEd.Tx.5.23) I could easily have departed. I could easily have said “Okay,” like I usually do and let it go and not address it, but that was not my purpose. My purpose was for us to address the disparity that exists. We were to address how racism and trauma impacts those disparities and not to sugar coat it or put it off to the side.
It’s also not my role to educate the audience about what the strengths of the black community are. That’s not my role. It’s up to them as providers to figure that out for themselves. So I had to address that. Some people didn’t like that. What happens is that it is usually put on the people of color to be the ones to come up with solutions. They are the ones who have to constantly do that. No. It’s not about that. In order to stop disparities in general, it takes all of us together to do that and not put it all on one particular group. I had to address that. I had to put that forward. It was tough. It was hard to do, but it was the thing to do. It was the thing to do and not to be part of the problem anymore. We can speak from the Spirit Voice in a way that we are supposed to.
The other thing that happened was that someone wanted me to tone it down, because they felt it was too emotional and too charging for them. It was making them uncomfortable. My response was, “Well it should make you uncomfortable because it is serious. As providers for African-American clients if you can’t handle that, how are you going to help them with their health needs?” That is the thing I am learning. Yes, I was put into this role for a reason and yes the imposter self, those doubts, entered my mind.
Yet if we allow Spirit to take over and put Spirit in the forefront then we can let go of that imposter self. We let go of that self-doubt. We recognize that we are not frauds. We recognize that we were put here in this world for a reason. We were put here to do all the many things we were meant to do. Sometimes we encounter challenging individuals who may have things they feel, and that they feel they suffer over in their minds. Regarding them, we respond from a loving and healing place with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
That’s what I’m learning to do in this world. I understand that I was put here for a purpose, and I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m going to put Spirit’s voice in front of me and in my mind more often than not. Each and every one of us has the strength within ourselves to throw away that imposter self until it does not exist any more. No matter what field, no matter what profession, what we do in life, we have the strength within ourselves to break that cycle.
That’s my talk. Thank you. (applause) ♥
Rev.Vincent Fuqua is CMC's 51st minister. He is currently a member of the CMC Board of Directors (09.20.21). He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 4, 2004.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the June 2018 (Vol. 32 No. 4) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.