In almost every group of people there are labels to describe what each individual brings to the group.
There is the organizer, the "fun one," the designated driver, the party animal and a whole host of others.
In all my groups, I am the counselor.
Years of working in human resources, listening to people's problems and trying to help them solve their issues, has left me feeling like Dr. Phil with hair. I have always been drawn to jobs helping others and so a few years ago I became a Certified Health Coach.
One thing that I've learned from my current job, and my past jobs, is that people can't handle the truth.
Years ago, I was counseling an employee (who was also a good friend), who had an opportunity to apply for a director position within the company. He asked me, point blank, "Do you think I would be a good director?" And then he added quite matter-of-factly, "I want you to tell me the truth."
I told him that while I thought he was very technically sound in his job, he was not always easy to work with. He had a tendency to be combative with others and he also tended to play favorites; giving his friends better service and preferential treatment.
My response did not go over well; he didn't speak to me for weeks.
Take that scene and replay it over and over again when people have said to me, "I want you to tell me the truth."
One of the biggest obstacles I see with my health coaching clients is that they are in denial about what's going on in their lives. They don't want to take responsibility for their circumstances.
It's certainly easier to just play the blame game than it is to take a hard look at yourself and figure out what you're doing wrong. But if there is any aspect of your life that you are unhappy with, it's worth it to figure out what role you play in making your current situation a reality.
There was the coworker who always had an issue with everyone she worked with. Every boss was an idiot; every vendor was a douchebag; and she surely worked harder than everyone else in the company.
When I suggested to her that in every one of her conflicts, she was the common denominator, she of course flew off the handle; and then I became the douchebag.
People really can't handle the truth.
Since I referenced Dr. Phil earlier, I'll borrow one of his lines here and say that "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."
I had a health coaching client a while back who came to me sick and tired of being sick and tired. I gave her lots of strategies and tools she could use to get on a better path but she fought me at every turn. It was always someone else's fault; how dare food have calories!
She was frustrated, as was I, and at one of our sessions I finally asked her, "Why are you paying me?"
She was taken aback and defensively answered, "So you can help me."
I nodded and told her that I absolutely wanted to help her, but what I was trying to do was help her help herself, and to that end, I was asking her to take responsibility for her own success.
To take a really honest look at yourself is one of the hardest things in the world to do. It's not always fun to examine the real you, warts and all, but it's a great first step when things in your life are not going the way you'd like to see them go.
Can you handle the truth? Ask yourself these four key questions:
1. When trusted friends, family, and colleagues offer constructive feedback or insight about me, is there a common theme? If everyone describes you as bossy, manipulative, angry, difficult, etc., is there perhaps some truth to what they are describing?
2. Are the majority of my relationships difficult or strained? If you frequently have problem relationships in multiple areas of your life, it could be that there is something you are doing to create this dynamic with others.
3. Do I tend to place blame on other people or outside forces whenever a problem arises instead of accepting responsibility for your role in creating or sustaining these situations?
4. Are there things I know I should be doing in my life that I'm not doing? Have I taken the time to examine my reluctance on taking action that I know needs to be taken?
"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." -- Gloria Steinem