Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When the Fraud Bomb detonates

You might be cruising along, practically content, feeling like all might be right with the world. Just that morning, you read your picture book to a school full of little kids and they were happy and you were happy. And then a glitch hits and you face the crashing realization:
You are a fake. Not only is your output just not good, but you’re even lazy about producing it. You come up with ideas … and then they sit. Or you come up with ideas … and your execution is pathetic. What you call creativity is really an excuse for not making a living, and your volunteering is insufficient at best. Plus, you’re not very likeable. You are taking up space in the universe.
The Fraud Bomb hits with the power of nuclear Armageddon. Nothing can stand in its wake. And once it hits, it sends aftershocks. Even when you go to the bathroom, you look around and mutter, “Shit, I can’t even keep a bathroom clean.” You look in the mirror and note that the puffiness under your eyes now has dark bags in it, too. How can a puff hold a bag?
Oh, maybe you’ll reflect on a recent social occasion and decide that you’d been socially inappropriate again. Or worse, you reflect that maybe you’re not getting invited to social occasions because you’ve been socially inappropriate. There is no insecurity too insignificant to fuel a Fraud Bomb once ignited.

No, I’m not holding a pity party. I’m conducting an analysis of speed. Like how FAST the Fraud Bomb can move through one’s psyche. Wasn’t it just a few days ago I was blogging about a life of no regrets? And then bammo: last night, I realized Fraud Bombs can trigger Fear Bombs, too. Fear Bombs are thoughts like: “The man spotted in the neighborhood checking doors; what if he home invasions us?” “What if [loved one’s] health issue worsens?” “What if I have a car accident on the ice?” Aiiieee!

Where does a Fraud Bomb start? Sometimes it’s with a bit of rejection. Like a “we’re sorry, but” for a submission. Or a can’t-measure-up comparison;  a failure of willpower. Or else it’s just looking at your own list of projects and realizing that you’re getting nowhere fast.

No, I don’t think it has anything to do with the darkest day of the year and 5 measly hours and 27 minutes of grayish daylight. Fraud Bombs happen other days, too. Other days that are longer than 5 hours and 27 minutes of dusk, but who’s counting?

So what do you do with a Fraud Bomb? You put one fraudulent foot in front of the other.

You go to a potluck. One of the other volunteer teachers laughs about how rattled she can get sometimes. Another says she panics about misspelling words on the white board. You feel some camaraderie, begin to think maybe you're just like other people (except that they’re telling lighthearted stories and you’re a walking tragedy).

So you stop by on an old errand … which turns out to have passed its expiration date (Bad Barbara). Nevertheless, you remember to thank someone for a kindness and make a donation (Barely Good Enough Barbara).

You say to yourself, “Just finish one thing right now,” but you get distracted because your room is so full of started things and weren’t you once masterful at de-cluttering? At least you know to stay away from Facebook with its terribly distressing news and its terribly happy news that you’re not quite in the mood for receiving. Maybe you should just clean the bathroom.
Stop! You are in your Third Third. Surely you have learned to handle Fraud Bombs by now! Well, all you have learned is that they pass. Eventually. You do something right, and slowly it ricochets through your system and masks the fraud messages and you can get on with things. BrenĂ© Brown says sharing vulnerability is a positive thing if people can relate but a negative if it’s just a dump.

Do you have Fraud Bombs? Can you relate? Or did I just dump?


  1. Self doubt is a real bastard especially when you are retired, in your supposed "golden years" and no one to rely for your success except yourself. Ironically, I'm writing about the same subject from a different perception in my blog and I ran across your article.....I think it was destiny. If you don't mind I'm going to link you in. Great work by the way !!

  2. Oh, can I ever relate! Thanks for putting the Fraud Bomb out in the open.

  3. I think everybody has fraud bombs.

  4. You hit the nail on the head for me. Thanks for exposing the fraud bomb.

  5. Uhhh which day and which bomb? The worst part is its not enough for me to have a fraud bomb... I then have to throw in a good old "why can't you be more like a 'Barbara Brown' who is amazing; why are you so damn less than Lorie? Fruad bombs are tough but my willingness to see other's brilliant light while reserving my harshest critical lens for myself is the shrapnel that causes the most destruction. Barbara your willingness to be vulnerable doesn't deminish the truth I see in how amazing you are; instead it shines a light into that dark cave in my mind where "less than" Lorie lives and helps to illuminate her way out from the false illusion that everyone else is perfect and she is not even good enough! Thank you for being awesome and reminding me of my awesomeness. Lorie

  6. OK, so here I am writing my comment a month late ... OMG what does that mean? Just writing to say that I have never been afraid of a Fraud Bomb, which does not mean I don't know it... but with me it has always been that sudden fear that there'll be a knock at the door. Who is it? It's the Fraud Police: "What?! You call yourself a translator?" I try to tell myself whenever my insecurities start getting the better of me that just about everyone I know who has ever encountered the Fraud Police has expectations of themselves that are far greater than the expectations that anyone else could ever possibly have of them. So the trick is to relax, slow down, maybe allow yourself to ask someone for some help, and mostly to remind yourself that "it really doesn't matter" or "it's certainly good enough" and the Fraud Police start shrinking away on their own (easier said than done, but it's a start).


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