An old friend of mine was in town earlier this fall and organized a happy hour. A mutual friend asked if I was going. I said no. She said, "Why, are you busy Friday night?" And I said "No, I’m just not really interested in going. I’m sure you’ll have a good time though. Say hi to Megan for me. Hugs!”
It was the truth. I wanted a night in with my husband, pizza, and Stranger Things. Sue me!
I could have said I had plans. Or that I’m crazy busy with my book coming out. Or I could have made some other acceptable excuse (which is what I would typically do). Instead, I just declined the Facebook invite and that was that. It felt freeing and… honest. And it was refreshing!
Do you feel that you sometimes have to lie to spare people's feelings? I sure do. But I’m committing to doing it less. Here’s why:
1. Lying feels bad.
Every time we say a white lie it's like a mini internal integrity breach. Hey, no one is going to lock you up, but when we don’t tell the truth, it just doesn’t feel good. Because at our core we want to be honest.
2. You have to remember lies.
I recently had dinner with two friends, Laura and Emily. Laura had a big event over the summer that I went to and that required an hour of travel time each way. Emily wasn’t there. As we laughed about it, recalling a funny memory from the evening, Emily was quiet. She couldn’t remember why she wasn’t there. Probably because she made something up at the time to get out of going (no judgment, I get it).
Have you ever done that? Been caught in a lie (or close)? I have. It feels icky and untrustworthy. And I don’t know about you, but my memory is not good enough to even remember all the true stuff. Lying is so high maintenance—and you’re too busy for that.
3. People respect the truth.
I was meant to go to a friend’s house for dinner once and she called the morning of to cancel. She said, “I’m sorry Susie but I’m just not feeling like myself. I feel like I need to be alone today. I hope you understand. I want us to enjoy our catchup but I’m just so tired and I need today to rest. Knowing what I had to manage this week, I probably shouldn’t have suggested dinner in the first place.” It was a lovely, open chat. And to be honest, I was tired too. Her candor made me feel closer to her. We bonded over it and had a nice phone call instead.
No fake sickness or emergency was required! And, oddly, I felt like it gave me permission to do the same thing one day if I ever need to.
4. "No" is enough.
As the old saying goes, "'no' is a complete sentence." So can you tell the truth and still be nice? Yes! Even though no is enough, you can give some extra padding: “I’d love to go to the movies with you but I need to work on my blog” or “That trip sounds wonderful, but my vacation budget for the year is spent.” Just say what’s true for you! It’ll feel better. And no one can argue with the truth.
In life, it’s so easy to give a quick "yes" and have remorse later. Or make up a lie to get out of something. But you don't have to! You can say no at the start or gracefully exit later if you need to. A calendar does not exist to be filled up, and you don’t have to say yes to something just because you’re available.
If there’s a gap in your weekend, that doesn’t mean you have to fill it. The space in our lives can be the best part. And there’s no shame in honoring what you need. Especially when you’re honest about it.
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!