You’ve heard me say that there are six behavioural traits of the Impostor Complex. Places where we might go to hide out to avoid feeling like an Impostor.
Because, let’s face it. We know the Impostor Complex wants to keep you out of action, doubting your capacity, and feeling alone and isolated. Who needs that? Who WANTS that?
No one. So it’s reasonable for us to want to avoid the whole experience. (Hint: we can’t really. But, onward.)
So yeah. To avoid feeling like we don’t belong, aren’t worthy of anyone’s time or attention, or are the Impostor, we tend to go to comparison, diminishment, procrastination, perfectionism, leaky boundaries and my particular coping mechanism of choice: people-pleasing. (If you haven’t ID’d yours yet, check out this quiz here.)
I’m in excellent company...18.6% of you share People-Pleasing with me. (Oh HEYYYYY!)
We are a fun bunch, we people-pleasers. We can be pretty charming and likable. We are relational and sociable. We care a LOT about others. We value inclusivity. We make things happen by bridging connection. We can be generous and gracious, though sometimes we are charged with being “generous to a fault.” We learned early on about flies and honey. It’s part of feminine conditioning that my friend and colleague Jo Casey speaks to.
I love us. I celebrate us.
And bonus: Our ability to blend in with the crowd, and in fact, be welcome in most, means that we can avoid feeling like an Impostor. It’s cozy in the middle.
But the flies are IN the honey.
And I’ve spent my life trying to pick them out.
As people-pleasers, our relatability gets us in the door alright. But the tricky bit comes once we are inside, and we start to fear we didn’t earn it for any reason that MATTERS beyond the charm. We’ll discount any praise we are given, and dismiss the opportunity to take the stage or lead the charge. Suddenly our talents and skills and will and tenacity don’t seem to matter. And surely, if we weren’t already, we are NOW the Impostor. In a club we were never supposed to enter.
People-pleasing is about prioritizing making sure everyone likes you so that you fit in, but then not feeling like you earned your opportunities—you just got them because they liked you... or are just being "nice."
Sometimes, it’s a little TOO cozy in the middle, right? Cozy’s great, but not always the answer to the problem. Sometimes discomfort is. Often, in fact. Already an edge for many, discomfort is poison for cozy-loving people-pleasers who have spent their lives trying to say and do the “right thing.” (And that right thing, more often than not, is the thing that WON’T rock the boat. But it won’t change worlds, either.)
As a people-pleaser, you are likely to opt out of the kinds of action that runs the risk of pissing folx off.
Said another way: people-pleasing strips us of permission to experience righteous rage. And I am not here for that. (I know you’re not either.)
You don’t ask for what YOU need. And then TRUE connection isn’t happening. It’s a one-way relationship. And that has never worked out so well, now has it?
We can lose ourselves in trying to do the impossible: pleasing everyone.
Playing to our fans and avoiding our detractors can mean that our Integrity becomes eroded. And Integrity is a cornerstone for Unshakeable Confidence.
And I know I don’t need to tell you this: but you can’t please everyone ANYWAY. In some ways, assuming you can has an air of intrinsic arrogance. If you set out to please everyone, you will fail 100% of the time AND lose yourself in the process. (Those are not the odds you want.)
So don’t. (Yeah, I know: #simplenoteasy.)
Your people will get it.
Your people will get you.
And THAT, my friend, is PLEASING.
When everything is said and done, and the Impostor Complex is working double and triple time to keep you out of action, doubting your capacity and alone and isolated, I want you to know this, my people-pleasing friends:
Maybe your value of inclusivity wants to be assured that everyone feels heard.
Maybe your value of connection wants to bridge differences.
Maybe your value of generosity just really loves offering grace.
Maybe keeping others pleased around you was a question of SURVIVAL.
So I am not here to tell you to unravel all of the glorious aspects of who you are.
I am, however, here to tell you this:
For you to be the fullness of you, you just may have to disappoint some people.
(It will be well worth it.)
You are not responsible for sourcing anyone else's joy. No matter how “easy” it is for you. (That’s on them.)
And finally, what if, instead of assuming “they’re just being nice”...
What if you believed them when they told you just how truly remarkable you are?
What if you could just dare to believe them?
What if you could just dare to believe ME?
Are you a people pleaser? Not sure?