Let me start with a fable, compliments of famous story teller, Ram Dass, psychologist and pioneering thinker, whose life work has been to help us all become more authentic and honest.
The tale starts with the best tailor in town named Zumbach. He made the finest suits with the most exquisite fabric. One day, Eric, a young man who recently fell into a large amount of money went to Zumbach to be fitted for a suit.
Measurements were taken and several weeks later Eric went to get his new cloths.
He stood before the mirror in disbelief. One leg was four inches too short and one sleeve was way too long.
Zumbach smiled and said, "The suit is fine. It's the way you're standing. Bend you knee and pull your arm up to your chin."
Michael did as he was told and yep, the suit fit perfectly.
He paid and left to catch the bus back to his apartment. As he sat down, a very distinguished man complimented him, saying "That must be a Zumbach suit. No one else could fit someone whose body is as twisted as yours."
Many of us spend much of our lives hoping to fit in to someone else's agenda. There is a tendency to twist ourselves into shapes that are unnatural and uncomfortable.
As Ram Dass says, "We are trained to be somebody. We go to "Somebody School" to make our parents proud and gain acceptance from our friends." It may look good on the outside, yet, inside we are twisted and in pain.
Becoming a pleaser starts when we are young. We all want to make our parents or caretakers happy and thus, often say "yes" when we mean "no," We contort and hold back our true thoughts and make excuses.
Take a few minutes and write down who you wanted to please as a child. Then answer this question,"Did it work?" Next think about if and how you pushed your own dreams aside to be "somebody" for somebody else.
Now, take a few moments to go back to your teen years and look at what you did to fit in with the crowd. Was it an excursion into party drugs or alcohol? Today's teens must be included via social media. It's causing a great deal of angst and another form of addiction that I wrote about in another column.
The pleaser transformed becomes a truth teller. Ah, breath of fresh air. Truth tellers tell it like it is - simply, powerfully, without lecturing or grandstanding. Believe it or not, you are physically stronger when you tell the truth.
Studies show that telling the truth is really good for health and relationships as this Time article suggests.
The way to untwist yourself is a process that can take months. Don't rush it. Just take one step each day to unravel the patterns that got locked in. This was an attempt to boost your self-esteem through acknowledgment from others. Long term it wont work. Truth is the better method.
In the workplace, truth tellers are both feared and loved in equal measure. It can be challenging to work with a truth teller when there is a need to reveal injustice, corruption, lies, or hypocrisy. Yet, when we are in the presence of the truth, we also feel comforted, energized, and nourished.