Sure She Can


Crush this insecurity


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The biggest barrier that women encounter when realizing their dreams is their own insecurity. Rationally, talented women know that they are capable and suitable. And yet, they fear that they will be found out. They feel as if they are actually fooling everyone and it will turn out they are not capable. That feeling takes them by surprise, it comes over them – an unjust fear of exposure. They don’t know how to deal with that lack of confidence. As a consequence, they set the bar very high for themselves, or very low. They develop barriers to success.

In the United States, this insecurity is known as Impostor Syndrome or Confidence Gap. Our own research among approximately 600 highly-educated Dutch women shows that about 65 percent of them are hindered by their own insecurity during their careers.

I have written a book about it

The last few years, I have studied the impostor syndrome closely.

Research, many books, and hundreds of highly-educated women from my practice form the basis of ‘Sure She Can. Crush This Insecurity’. I will tell you everything about it on this website. I hope you will take advantage of it.

“Like a Sheryl Sandberg bestseller, as it were, but practical and concise.”

Wilma Kieskamp

Trouw, major Dutch newspaper

“Took great pleasure in reading your book. It’s certainly recognize. I will pass it on to my extremely clever and fun daughters-in-law!”

Gerdi Verbeet

Former speaker of the Dutch House of Representatives

It is not a question of the glass ceiling

Although more women are graduating from universities and with better results, they are still lagging considerably behind their male colleagues with regard to the development of their careers. Women still hardly count where financial rewards, management, and the boardrooms are concerned.

This is due to our country’s culture, among other things, but definitely also to women themselves. But there is good news! It is not a question of a Glass Ceiling.

The cause can be found in women themselves. Insecurity. And the good thing is that we can change that quickly. That is what this book is about.

Sure She Can. Crush This Insecurity is not a translation of an American situation. Vreneli treats this phenomenon on the basis of her own Dutch experiences with hundreds of clients from her coaching practice, with friends, colleagues, and daughters. In an expressive manner, she describes the origins of the Impostor Syndrome, its symptoms, and its effects. The readers can learn to get rid of their insecurity by means of some practical exercises. Theory is larded with examples related to this subject from highly successful career women from the worlds of business, politics, sports, and science, with Rita Verdonk, Jacqueline Zuidweg, Fatima Moreira de Melo, and Claartje Vinkenburg, among others.

This book will make a significant contribution to the pleasure that women take in their work. It will help them with their personal growth and ambitions. And to enjoy their success.

What else is it about? A few examples from the book:

The impostor syndrome leads to insecurity. And that insecurity is caused by a little voice inside your head that feeds the fear, the fear of being found out.

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not living up to expectations
  • Fear of not being liked
  • Fear of not being accepted
  • Fear of not being able to match earlier successes

In fact, it is about the feeling that that image that you project of yourself is fake, and that if you make a mistake everyone, yourself included, will find out that that image is not right and that you are a fraud.

There are two ways in which people who suffer from the impostor syndrome react to this:

  • They set the bar low for themselves, because they will not fall so hard in case of ‘exposure’.
  • They set the bar high, are very perfectionist, and therefore work excessively hard to prevent ‘exposure’.
    They work very hard to succeed. If they receive recognition, they don’t claim it, which means their self-confidence does not grow. With the next, more difficult task, they think that they have to work even harder to do a good job, because they are afraid of trusting their own competencies.
The causes of the impostor syndrome are threefold:


  1. your education
    The impostor syndrome can often be traced back to your youth. In that case, the expectations that your parents or your educators had of you do not match with the way the outside world views you and how you view yourself. You still hear your parents’ voices or your own voice inside your head and they make you feel like a fraud.
  1. the culture in which you grew up
    In our culture, women are subconsciously regarded as second-rate and less competent for roles that are not typically female. When you are performing such an untypical female role, you have to perform better. You have to be about two-and-a-half times better than your male equivalent to be regarded as equally capable. What’s more, the impostor feelings are lurking. After all, what special competencies do you have, to be claiming this male role? You are not a man, you don’t belong.
  1. innate physical qualities
    Women’s brains, their genes, and their hormonal regulation do not contribute to the development of self-confidence. But fortunately it is possible to reduce their influence through practice, sports, and meditation.
Most common situations in which you can suffer from the impostor syndrome:

  1. As a student
  2. In your first job
  3. Being self-employed
  4. In a new job or on a special project
  5. In a masculine organization
  6. In a creative profession
  7. At job interviews
  8. Stepping into the limelight with your success
  9. In conversation with men who know everything
  10. In a (impending) conflict
  11. As a first-generation professional
  12. Representing an entire group on your own
  13. In the schoolyard

You can feel like a fraud in all of these situations – someone who undeservedly holds a certain position or lays claims to that.

The book Sure She Can. Crush This Insecurity has the following contents:

Introduction: I have the solution
…Cultural expectations
…Nurture or Nature?
When does the impostor syndrome appear?
Methods for preventing exposure
Consequences of the impostor syndrome
And now, are you going to deal with it?

In addition to being informative, the book is also a self-help book. 
The final chapter contains a step-by-step plan that you can follow to get rid of your impostor syndrome.

For me, as a male manager in an organization with many highly educated female professionals, this book is very useful too. There are a lot of things from the book that I recognize in my staff (and yes, also in myself), and certainly in men as well. The book is a great read and truly offers solutions.
I can recommend it to everyone.


“Hello Vreneli, all the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place with this book. Now I get what happens, and I can start working on it too. Thank you for these insights. PS: I have also bought the book for my mother, as she suffers from it too!”


“What a difference it would have made in the way I viewed situations if this book had been published 20 years ago! Even now, it is of much use to me, but looking back on a career in management of 20 years, the insights from this book could have made a crucial difference in very many situations. It is a must for all women (and some men) with ambition who dare to take an honest look at their ingrained patterns!”


What a great book. It is a terrific read and I recognized so much. It is so good to know that I am not the only one who has such thoughts, that alone is already a great relief! I am going to get to work with the tips.