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How Being A People Pleaser Makes You A Liar

But it doesn't have to be this way.

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graphic of woman pulling happy mask off her face
Cristina Spanò
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I felt my shoulders tense as I loaded boxes into the car. I'd wanted to take a trip to Goodwill to drop off all the stuff my kids and I had cleared out of the house and just be done with this whole purging business when a text from a friend came through: Could I pick up her son and drive him to the birthday party we were headed to afterward?

It’s a bit out of the way and we were barely going to make it on time as it was. I knew if I didn’t drop off the boxes now, they’d take up space in my car for months.

But I said yes anyway. I didn't like myself enough in that moment to say what I really wanted to: “Sorry, I just can't make it happen.”

While it was a simple thing (going 10 minutes out of my way to get another child to a birthday party), I realized — while forgetting to breathe, thinking of my never-ending to-do list — that I’d said yes too many times in my life just to please other people. I was a liar, and a big fat liar at that.

So many of us say yes because we want to be liked. We want the person we are telling yes to make us feel validated and appreciated.

But when we say yes to things we hate, agree to do things we really don’t have time for, or say “sure” to something that doesn’t feel organic to us, we are not being true to ourselves and our own needs.

Maybe saying yes feels good in the moment, but then in rolls the resentment with a side of anger. Then we become the victim. Because the truth is, we’re NOT happy to add to our never-ending to-do list when it’s logistically difficult and undercuts our agenda.

People don't want us agreeing to do something we don't want to do. And let's face it, if they don't care we agreed to take care of their dog even though we'd already planned a romantic stay-in-all-weekend with our partner, we don't need them in our lives anyway.

I was sick of lying and saying with fake smile: "Sure, I can do that for you"; or "Sure, I'll be there"; or "Sure, I can put myself on the back burner and take your needs and wants more seriously than my own."

It was no one's fault but my own. I was the big lying-liar face who kept leading people to believe I wanted to do certain things, and then complain later while stuffing my face with chocolate cake over the kitchen sink because I’d taken on too much, again.

It just wasn't working for me. I'd much rather be honest and say, "No, thank you," and have people believe I am selfish with my time, or whatever they may think. I can't control their thoughts anyway, but you know what I can control? How I choose to spend my time, and sometimes that means declining something in order to live my best life.