How to Deal with Copycats

by Leonie Dawson on October 16, 2013

copycats

Hola gorgeous hearts!

Got a great question today from Academy member Prerna to answer… one that I think affects a lot of creatives and business women.

How does one deal with copycats? People who don’t just steal your ideas but stalk you a lot and do exactly what you do online?

I’ve had a lot of experience in this, so totally happy to share my thoughts.

First of all, I know it doesn’t feel good. When you see someone overtly copying your work, it can bring up lots of feelings: anger, sadness, fear, a big sinking feeling in the belly. I want to really acknowledge that these feelings do happen.

I remember the first time 9 years ago when someone started copying a very specific painting series I’d developed. It threw me into a tailspin for days, to be honest. I really had to work through those feelings to get to the other side.

Since then I’ve seen every kind of copying of my work under the sun – from copying names of my programs, how I title myself, my handwriting, the way I write, to one person actually using my name and attempting to impersonate me on Facebook. I’ve also seen less direct but still obvious ways of copying me including people trying to replicate my Academy and yearly workbook.

Here’s my thoughts on copying:

You will never, ever get to the same level of success by copying someone

I know when someone is trying to imitate me, they are doing it because they see it works for me and they want that kind of success too. So they think

“If I just do something like that, I’ll be successful too!”

What they don’t understand is that it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make that success happen. It’s taken me years of work, hard won experience and study to create my programs. They are popular for a reason – because they work.

It’s not just that – I’ve spent a lot of time finding and growing my tribe. I turn up every single day on social media and every week on my blog to create free, useful articles that resonate with people. My tribe can trust in me because they know what I’m talking about.

You can’t copy that.

Plus, it takes stamina and determination to create a successful business and thriving movement.

Copycats just don’t have that – they’re looking for the easy way out.

There isn’t an easy way out to success. Creating a knock off isn’t going to get you there.

So my mindset is this: I ignore copycats. I don’t enjoy looking at their work. By copying me, they also are blocking any chance that I’ll connect with them and share about their work. I feel sorry for them because I know that what they are doing isn’t the right thing and isn’t going to get them anywhere.

And I stay 100% focussed on my work and what I’m creating and what I need to do to move forward.

Note: of course, if they are infringing on your copyright, trademarks or intellectual property, send a cease and desist letter from your lawyer. In the case of someone impersonating me, my team also worked with Facebook to remove the profile.

You need to find your own message

It’s really easy to get too caught up in what other people are doing and what business is supposed to look like and how you are supposed to write.

Honestly, you have to get totally away from that mindset, and stay completely on your own yoga mat.

You’ve got to keep connecting with yourself and YOUR gifts and what YOU want to bring into the world. You need to stay connected to your source and your spirit and your voice. That’s the thing that will make you stand out. That’s what will make your right tribe resonate with you.

And what’s more, that’s the thing that will fulfill you and make every cell in your body light up. Because that’s when you’re fulfilling your soul’s purpose.

It’s not something that can be copied. It’s something to be nurtured and called for and dedicated to.

And it’s worth it.

Because that feeling of being totally on resonance, totally in spirit with yourself, of doing each day what you were born to do is worth all the gold in the world.

Recommended resource for discovering your own message: Creative Goddess program.

Ignore & stay centered

Stay centered on your truth, your light, your message, your voice.

Stay true to your vision, of what you want to create.

Of course learn from others. But keep your eyes on your own mat.

Keep doing the thing you were born to do. Keep moving forward. Keep being a monk to your dreams.

Stay the course of determination, spirit, integrity, commitment and drive.

That’s where true success lies.

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

- Judy Garland

All my love,

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Isis October 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Way to go Leonie! I send all my love and blessings for I came to realize this: the Infinite in her wondrous wisdom thinks I must be doing such a phenomenal job, she’s sending me little angel fairy messengers to support me and grow my message outwards to touch the lives of those I won’t be able to reach by myself. We are all in ONENESS TOGETHER. And honestly, if we think of all ideas as coming from Oneness – as the wonderful Leo Babauta does – and be free with ourselves, open and vulnerable – we will find we achieve more blossoming abundance by sharing out of the love and joy. I’m contemplating going COPYFREE on my blog. Perhaps one day, I will.

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Jessica Nazarali - Blog Coach October 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Awesome post Leonie. Ignoring really does wonders! x

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Raine October 16, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Love, love, love this! Copycats are after an easy way out that is in no way sustainable. Thank you for this Leonie! Staying focused on your message is the key, always.

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Prerna October 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Thank YOU Leonie, yet again, for answering this question that was keeping me up at night.. I’m printing out this entire post filled with wisdom and keeping it with me to remind me whenever those feelings of hurt and anger come up. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and your wonderful wisdom.. Grateful..

I’m staying focused now on creating my road ahead.. Onwards, upwards!

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Rosie October 17, 2013 at 4:02 am

Great points. I also think that if you put a huge amount of ‘yourself’ into what you are doing and only work on stuff you are really passionate about, no one can touch you with a barge pole as you are unique. Even if someone tries to mimic what you do because they want to mimic your success, they will soon loose interest as they are not fired by the correct passion. Two companies started copying what I was doing 10 years ago and I know they have pumped lots of money into trying to make it successful and figure out how I make money from it. The fact of the matter is I don’t make money from it – it’s an advice service which complements other stuff I do and helps grow my tribe over time! But I’m not telling them that! ;)

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Gemma Regalado October 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

Ahhh, so true, Leonie. Always important to remember that what got you here will only ever get someone else 75% of the way (at best!). And what most people don’t get? Where you’re going, they might not want to! Most of these people have never thought about what they *truly* want – they simply see your success and think that it’s the One True Way.

I personally found that when I started out, I needed a “point” to aim for, so I would pore endlessly over other web designers sites and see the work they were doing. If I attempted to design something that wasn’t me, well, it looked pretty awful! After a while I realised that attempting to emulate another designer wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go, so I let their ideas go, and started to focus on what I wanted. <– GAMECHANGING!

The copycats tend to get it after a while, just keep kicking out the awesome work. Things will slip into place :)

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Mika October 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

The saddest part truly of copy cats is that the true gratification of creating, sending beautiful pieces of yourself out into the world, they will never know. Any compliments they recieve will be hollow, they will never go through the transformation all artists go through of realizing that whatever you are, who ever you are, you are valuable, there is beauty inside you to share, people want you. That courage that it takes to expose something you create to world, without knowing what it will be, they will never become brave. I also think its that in itself sometimes too, sometimes the talent that copy cats use to mimic someone elses work tells me, they dont know who they are as an artist, afraid, insecure, they try on everyone elses shoes, seeing something they admire they want to feel empowered to believe they are just as good, its a lie. I have only had that experience once, and I wrote the person an email, saying “although copying is a form of flattery , you are cheating yourself, and will never bloom into who you were meant to be, your own art may be inspired by the artists you admire, dont you want to discover it? Dont be afraid of what you may see, know that what ever it is , it is just as precious as the art of those you admire. “

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Flora October 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I have dealt with this copy cat problem on more than one occasion and having a good attorney was the best investment. What truly hurt was that the copy cats were charging an outrageous amount of money for crummy work and acting like I endorsed their work -yuck. Having the attorney was great because he not only gave me the space to ignore the fraud but also gave me some great pointers to protecting the integrity of my work.
Definitely include an attorney in your team of master minds when you take flight in your dreams.
Best of blessings,
Flora

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Kelly @OneQuarterMama October 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm

First of all, congrats on the discovery of your little mermaid. That’s a lot of feminine power and energy for one person to be carrying around!

No one can copy what is unique about a person, so it will never work in the end. It’s impossible to copy that essence and they will tire of trying to keep up the facade.

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Nina October 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I love you and your beautiful wise heart and soul, Leonie. so much!!! xoxox

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Jacquie October 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

thanks for this post leonie. and making clear what a copy cat actually is. i was recently accused of copying someone. she also basically accused me of stalking her as well. she accused me of copying her because i painted on wood blocks (which i’ve seen many, many artists do) and using a similar display and same color christmas tree. however, i had the display and christmas tree waaaaay before she started using hers. also, every time i make a post of facebook about something good happening to me, she IMMEDIATELY posts a comment. so, who is actually copying whom in this situation??? she has actually been trying to discourage me since i started selling my work. i think she sees me as competition and is trying to run me off. she’s even stated selling similar products to mine such as necklaces and glass magnets and then has the nerve to say i’m copying her by using the blocks. i mind my own business and do what is right for me in the art world. i’ve never said a word to her when i felt she was copying something i did. i really don’t feel like i have a monopoly on necklaces, glass magnets, etc. we each have our own style. if someone buys my glass magnet it’s because they like the art that is on the magnet. she needs to focus more on herself and stay out of my business. she even made me doubt myself a bit. so, thanks for clearing up and posting about this subject. it’s also nice to talk to people who actually “get it”. none of my friends understand because they aren’t creative and don’t have their own business. it’s a struggle for women out there, so i am glad you are here to help us through our journey. ps congrats on the baby girl!!! i have one too. she is such a treasure.

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Tet October 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Congratulations on your baby girl! I have three of them. My hubby is a soldier to put up with us. I love this post Leonie. We should all hoe our own row and watch our own seeds grow. Better to focus our energy & attention on creating what we love than waste it on things we can’t control

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Erin October 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Thanks for this Leonie. . .This resonates with several instances I have come up against with local businesses ‘competing’ using similar introduced products and ideas. Then I read how to respond to ‘competition’. Basically, Focus on your own (already gained) customer and product/service. Don’t waste energy worrying about the ‘competition’. I started to do this – even decided to drop a product that several businesses suddenly introduced when I did to the community, and voila! Less loss of income on the product, and more positive relations with the loyal customer base I had already gained and continue to gain. I believe in always providing a certain level of service and quality of product that encourages a loyal following. I now RECOMMEND those businesses to my guests, when ever they require local suggestions on where to go for that certain product or service. I even notice the difference in another local business’s FB posts since I conduct my own business’s audience engagement opportunities. It really does not matter. My idea will always be my own. Original and genuine. I don’t have time for games and wasted energy!

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Mari J. Dionne October 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Hello Leonie! I’m so glad you are feeling better and congratulations on your new little mermaid!

About copy cats. I have to share this with you. I’m so glad you wrote on this because after purchasing your program I had pretty much decided I was “Done.” ever trying to figure out how to grow my own business.

After studying your program and what everyone else was doing to be successful, I started feeling like I’d done everything backwards and wrong, like I had to copy what everyone else was doing in order to be any kind of success. Maybe that’s why others do it.

I visited 25 of the websites of women you’ve helped. I saw ‘YOU’ in most of them and I got to thinking “As much as I admire Leonie, I don’t want to be her. I don’t want people to visit my site and think, “Oh. She’s a Leonie Dawson’s groupie.” No. I want to be me.” But being me doesn’t make money.

I was getting ready to hit the button and close my site down when I got angry and thought, “Screw it! I’m going back to the way things were!” and my ratings went back up and I sold 8 books in one week.

I’ve learned since buying your program that it’s important to defend the way you promote yourself, and the relationship you have with your ‘people’, your group in the universe, in a way they will recognize you as being one of ‘theirs’.

I’ve also come to realize since buying your program that the only people who have ridiculed me (not criticize, which is OK) are those who are not my ‘people’.

I agree with you 100% that if one is a copy-cat it won’t work in the long run. After all, it takes a heart to attract and keep your ‘people’. And, when you are a copy cat, where’s the heart in that?

Thanks for your support and positive vibrations, Leonie!

May Love & Energy Be Yours!

Mari

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anthea October 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Hi Leonie
Congrats on your 2nd little munchkin!!!!
It is a strange experience being copied indeed. I recently discovered someone copying our chai brand (even though we are trademarked!) I didn’t take action because I noticed that no-one was following them. It wasn’t working for them. I think this is because simply copying someones name is a waste of time. Our brand name came about through interacting with 1000′s of customers. It describes the essence of our company and the whole reason I decided to quit my job and pour my heart and soul into this pursuit. People connect with my passion (and my team’s passion) you can’t copy that. I love that our brand name has a story. I love that every step of my journey has a unique and very personal drive. I can only imagine that when you copy others you miss out on one of the best bits of having your own business – expressing yourself!!! To me that defeats the whole purpose. Here’s to everyone being more and more themselves! xxoo

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Rahima October 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

O ThankYou Beautiful Leonie I can’t describe how greatful I am for your wisdom generosity and Love! You just keep On inspiring me and so do the replies from all the Tribe : ) As my Grandmother used to say about copycats and other annoying types; “Don’t give it any power!” Bless! xOxOx

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christine mcveigh October 17, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Thanks Leonie! That rings so true on so many levels.. love your message and your work.
Blessings!

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Jennifer October 18, 2013 at 5:34 am

Fully agree! I’ve had a copycat, and after going through the emotional sludge it brought on, I got to a place where I was able to think, well, I must be doing something right! And it’s a hard thing to see, but truly the bottom line is, nobody else does it like I do it.

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Jackie Deakin October 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Perfect timing for me…. thank you Leonie. I am staying in my own business from now on!! <3

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Gina Slonecker October 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm

First of all Leonie I truly love you for the gorgeous spirit you are!!! One thing I see though is a conflict in messages (or maybe it’s my interpretation) between the articles “Honestly. Business Doesn’t Have to Be Like That” and this one. In the first, you mention, “The only way to play big and create an incredible business is to work your ass off. I call bullshit.” Here, in this article, you write, “There isn’t an easy way out to success.” You state it’s taken a lot of time, stamina, and determination to get where you are. So, do you have to work your ass off or not? It can also be that definitions of hard work vary among people. Honestly I think there is a balance, middle ground, and truth in both. There are going to be times it feels or flows with ease and other times you are gonna be passionately active in your business pursuits (which can feel like working your ass off). Even in successful business ventures people will find blocks and challenges…that’s growing pains! Personally I feel wonderful when I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am and I don’t like the easy street. But I also understand and feel my work is enjoyable and creativity can just pour out. So basically I’m just trying to point out people might benefit from some clarification, me included! I don’t want to take away from this fabulous article either. Thanks for keeping all centered and working past/through the emotions of copycats. Sometimes a copycat will do things simply to unnerve and unseat someone. And CONGRATULATIONS on the mermaid addition to your family!! Much love and light!

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ChaCha October 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hello Leonie,

This is such a good article.

I have had this happen to me. I am on a small island and years ago I made a baby pant that was such a hit. A woman here approached me to buy my company but instead just knocked it off never realizing I may end up here. To be honest I do not know how she does it. I only tried this once with one small item in my much larger company but It never felt right. Sure enough it did not sell. How does she do it? Not sure.. but I think karma comes around.

What else is really interesting here is that long before starting with the academy I have wanted to put together an online interior design package. Then I see Leonie has one( not the same and not as indepth but a similar idea). So to be fair I just cannot read your offer and that way I will come from my skills and experience and create something that is totally unique.

Love to you all.
And blessings on your new little one.
You are a star for what you have been through Leonie.

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Anab Roa October 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm

You ROCK gurl!!! love you!!! very inspiring!!! :D

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Rene Walkin October 19, 2013 at 3:27 am

Leonie,
It bears remembering that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even though it sucks! You are clearly doing a great job and they so want to be you. So happy to hear you are feeling better as well. Blessings xx

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Julie October 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Loved reading this!!
We have a tall poppy syndrome here and I am constantly being knocked by others and this just reinforced for me to carry on doing what I do to my highest standard and just ignore them and what they do:)
Thanks so much for this article.

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Babu October 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Have you, dear Leonie, heard of this?

Remarkable artist Lisa Congdon’s art was stolen by a retailer.
And she wants to sue them.

Read the whole story here & learn how you can help this artist:

http://lisacongdon.com/blog/2013/10/my-art-was-stolen-for-profit-and-how-you-can-help/

http://jezebel.com/is-giant-folk-art-company-cody-foster-stealing-from-sma-1446015759

… and the originals & the copies here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/105498342@N02/

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A Magickal Meliss October 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

In the case of drawing and painting: True artists who draw and paint understand that when people are just starting out with no confidence in their own efforts, trying to chase a dream they have of expressing their own inner artist, copying what they find that touches their hearts that others create is VERY MUCH part of the path. COPYING is a HUGE part of HOW one learns HOW TO draw and paint. Eventually, IF what they truly desire is their own artistic expression, and they keep drawing and painting, they will develop their own style. It isn’t always looking for the easy way…..sometimes when you didn’t get a supportive family or a bunch of friends who encourage you and you’ve actually had nothing but people putting you down….you just need someone to take the time to say, “That’s good. Keep going. What else can you do?”

Personally, I wasn’t looking for the easy way, I simply needed someone to take the time to encourage and teach me. At this point, I’ve developed my own KICK ASS style. :) I freely share amazingly edited videos of me creating fantastic art journal pages on my YouTube Channel just because it makes me happy. http://www.youtube.com/user/amagickalmeliss

I want people to know that if my dreams have come true, theirs can too. And even though it’s scary, I say, “Copying is okay, people, when you’re trying to learn how to do something.” And don’t let ANYONE make you feel bad or wrong or like a copycat just because you’re starting out. No matter who they are.

I hope when someone copies me I am more graceful to that person
than the person who THOUGHT I was copying them
was to me.

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Denny C January 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience! I just sent the link to my 19 year old daughter who is an amazing fashion merchandiser and stylist. She was tortured the last 2 years of high school by someone copying her style EXACTLY! Stalking her social media accounts, matching her outfits, posing the same in photos, and posting the same tweets. All within a few of hours of her original posts. It made her life miserable as she couldn’t understand it and could not stop it. Wise words for all sorts of people affected by copy cats!!

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Maya January 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I deal with this all of the time. It affects the designers who work for me more than it does me and that could be an entire blog post (which I just may do now) to explain why. However, I have to say that I actually stumbled upon your site while doing research for a project that I was inspired to create out of a need in my own life. It turns out we have similar ideas and a similar message which I believe is due to the fact that we both take our inspiration from Spirit and invite Spirit to use us to deliver this message.

However, while I resonated with you and what you are doing and am very curious about your community, I have intentionally kept myself away from your academy and circle because I do not want to be influenced by your work indirectly in anyway because of our similarities. I’ve been on the fence, sort of just watching and waiting to see if I am actually called to join in and this post is an interesting synchronicity for me. I also don’t want anyone to assume I am copying any of your work because that is simply just not true. One thing I have experienced a great deal of in 10 years of working online in my own creative business is that people are often quick to accuse others of copying as well and often what appears to be obvious or blatant copying is not that at all. There is so much more going on that what we can see or understand from our limited perspectives.

I was actually one of the first people in my industry to do what I am doing creatively and in no time at all it turned into a billion dollar industry with so many active contributors to it that is too large for me to even comprehend. I am the type of person who strives to be unique, so when someone else creates something that is the same as something I have done it can be frustrating at first, however, instead of focusing on what people might have taken from me, I focus on what gifts I have received and the people who support that. I am not a victim. I am trend-starter and an industry leader.

Are there feelings when I see one of my unique ideas becoming not so unique? Of course there are, but I do not spend much time indulging in those feelings. That is just ego wanting to hold on to something I created in the past, and wanting to own something that I previously understood was a gift to the world, from spirit through me. If I indulge in the feelings and the believe that I have been wronged in some way, I am victimizing myself, which is disempowering and putting that energy out into the world will certainly bring more negativity my way. If I spend too much time focusing on the past accomplishment I become stuck and unavailable to the inspiration offered by Spirit in the present moment. Instead, I let it go and thank those that continue to push me forward constantly striving to create something new. I’ve seen other artists become entirely paralyzed creatively because they can not seem to shake their shadow. Some have even given up. How sad. It really is difficult to notice the shadow when one is focused on the sun.

Alternately, If you have someone you admire that is standing between you and your own Sun, then you are truly missing out on your own magnificence. It is good to have heros and sheros especially when we are first developing and starting out. When I was a young girl I loved to sing and I would replicate all of my favorite female vocalists sound. However, at some point I stopped trying to sound like someone else and found my own voice. That is where true bliss is revealed.

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Zo Manik January 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm

There is this discussion in poet/author circles that theft isn’t necessarily bad. No matter how much you (think you) channel Sylvia Plath or Harryette Mullen or Kristen Bock (etc), there is only one them doing them and one you doing you. Everything builds and improves on itself because of itself with the guidance and support of the others, so as long as you write with deliberateness and truth, rest in knowing that you offer something unique to the world.

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Jen February 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Thank you, I needed this. I have been so bitter about a person copying me for years. The thing that’s hardest to accept is that she is more “successful” (on paper, at least) than I am. She has a lot of people fooled.

I know the bitterness will only interfere with my own success, so I just need to move on, and keep plugging away. I hope the right people will eventually notice my hard work, not the repackaged version someplace else.

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Elle March 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm

“Keep doing the thing you were born to do. Keep moving forward. Keep being a monk to your dreams.”
YESYSEYES. this, so much this. I am writing this in capitals on the first page of my vision journal right now.
Thank you for writing this.

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Eva March 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Another great post Leonie! I needed this one <3
I have completely stopped putting my virtual ideas "out there" for the world to see since someone copied my ideas a couple of years ago. I commented on her sudden "bright ideas" that copied me and since then I closed the group I used to teach in for free for over ten years and deleted it. I have watched while the lady takes tidbits other people's ideas and then packages them into mini "courses" on her supposed soul work site and sells them as "soul work" and "soul that" and doesn't even see the only real "soul energy" she is generating is karma. She has completely turned me off creatively and left me bitter and angry at her for her supposed "authentic" intuitive guidance and soul speaking.

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Pratibha April 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Thank you Leonie! A lot of times certain casual discussions turned into a brainwave from friends and I began to distance myself from such people. Sadly, they exist. But your post has made me more positive in my approach to them!
Stay blessed <3

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Lucy Smith May 9, 2014 at 7:37 am

Thank you for your post!

Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this situation when the person is also within your social circle.

I have a situation where the problem has increased over the last 2-3 years to the point where it’s just ridiculous and she is now copying business logos etc.

How can I say what needs to be said….? Which is please stop!

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Safiya May 29, 2014 at 5:57 am

Thank you :)

I feel so much better after reading your article.

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Anita August 31, 2014 at 5:32 am

Wonderful information!

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