In the Greater Good blog out of UC Berkeley, Christine Carter shares her experiences of pleasing people, and shared the advice she gave her kids:
“Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.”
Know thyself, and express accordingly…. Quite an ambitious goal, and from my point of view, a process of growth rather than an instant transformation! But what if… what if we live as best we can true to how we’re feeling, telling the truth whenever we can, strategizing in truth instead of trying to please other people at the expense of ourselves.
There would be benefits, according to this Berkeley sociologist, as negative effects make way for greater health and connection. That’s because:
We never actually fool anyone, so it’s a lot of work for very little reward!
“We humans aren’t actually very good at hiding how we are feeling. We exhibit micro-expressions that the people we are with might not know they are registering but that trigger mirror neurons—so a little part of their brain thinks that they are feeling our negative feelings. So trying to suppress negative emotions when we are talking with someone—like when we don’t want to trouble someone else with our own distress—actually increases stress levels of both people more than if we had shared our distress in the first place. (It also reduces rapport and inhibits the connection between two people.)”
It’s easier to focus when we don’t lie or false smile through the day.
“Tons of research suggests that our ability to repeatedly exert our self-control is actually quite limited. Like a muscle that tires and can no longer perform at its peak strength after a workout, our self-control is diminished by previous efforts at control, even if those efforts take place in a totally different realm.”
We become less stressed and anxious when we’re in integrity.
“Research shows that people who are given instructions for how to lie less in their day-to-day lives are actually able to lie less, and when they do, their physical health improves. For example, they report less trouble sleeping, less tension, fewer headaches, and fewer sore throats. These improvements in health are likely caused by the relative absence of a stress response.”
From a Storyweaving point of view, this makes sense because our inner story and outer storytelling will match better, which makes for greater authenticity and confidence in the long run. And if you’re depressed or struggling, finding a strategic way to share that story might just get you the help you need to change it!
Remember, the goal is to choose the better story, out of the many you are living in your life. It’s not about lying. It’s about loving the very real story of your life!