Are you too polite for your own good?

Here’s the situation.

You’re at your friend’s house. You’ve told her you don’t eat gluten (or dairy, or sugar, or whatever). You’ve explained why. According to you, she should know the drill.

Only, she doesn’t. She offers you PIE, excitedly.

“I think you can eat it!” she exclaims, very proud of herself, while she slices it up into pieces. “It has a wheat crust, but if you just scrape the filling out you should be okay. The rest of it’s gluten-free. I made the filling with no sugar or butter too.”

You look at the pie. It glistens with juicy apples. It calls your name. You wish you could eat it without pain.

You look at your friend. She is so proud of herself. She can’t wait for you to take the first bite. She is going to be so disappointed if you say no.

Now, let’s press pause and play a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game. Remember those books? The ones where  you get to pick your own ending?

So, do you say …

A.) “Oh, thank you so much. I’d love to eat some. I’m just so full. I just ate. Can I save it for later?” You feel bad lying to her, but you don’t want to make her feel bad. Later, you leave her house with 3/4 of a pie that she gave to you (the 1/4 having been eaten by her). You’re starving because you didn’t eat before you went to her house. At your house, you put it in the garbage dump and wash the plate to return to your friend later.

B.) “You know I can’t eat gluten. The whole crust is made of wheat. I can’t just take the top off. I’d get really sick if I ate that, even if I ate just the top.” You’re angry with your friend for not knowing your rules. Why can’t she get it together? Why is it so difficult? What is she expecting so much of you? Why is she making you explain it … again. You leave feeling guilty for yelling at her, but you blame her for your actions. Maybe she’ll know better next time.

C.) “Sure, I’d love some.” You eat an entire piece of pie and damn the consequences. So what if you have a little bit of a tummy ache. What can it hurt? You’ll get better again. You’ve wanted pie for so long, and she enjoyed watching you eat every bite. It’s worth the pain.

D.) “I want so badly to be able to eat that pie … and no.” Your friend’s face is crestfallen. She looks down at the pie and says, “Are you sure? I was really hoping you could eat it. It’s my grandmother’s favorite recipe.” You look at her and say gently, “Sweetheart, I wish I could. It looks delicious. Thank you for making me feel so special.” She offers you a bowl of fruit and you eat it while she eats a slice of the delectable-looking pie. You leave feeling proud of yourself for telling her the truth. Your body feels good and your friend has made a miraculous recovery.

So, what did you learn from your adventure?

You know what the “right” answer is, don’t you?  We would all like to be in the “D” camp – do the right thing, say the right thing, and have everyone’s feelings and body protected. We don’t want anyone to think anything about us – like, “She is so picky,” or “I can’t do anything to please her,” or “I’m never inviting her over for pie again.”

The problem is that even if you picked Scenario D and handled it just like I described, your friend might still think those things. She might be upset.

Could you handle that? Could you handle “making” her feel disappointed?

The truth is that you can’t “make” anyone feel anything. Just like someone can’t “make” you feel happy, sad, or glad. You are not in her her head, thinking her thoughts. You are not responsible for her emotional life. She is responsible for those things. Trying to make her think something different about you is a form of emotional manipulation. That’s why it doesn’t feel good to please her by lying. Lying doesn’t serve either her or you in the long run in this situation.

Besides, do you really know what is best for your friend?  Is it better for her to know the truth and not go to the trouble of making you another gluten-laced pie or is it better for her to think you adored her present?  It’s up to her to decide, just like it was your decision whether to say yes or no to pie in the first place.

When you tell the truth from a place of peace and not anger, that’s the best you can do. The rest is up to her.

 The next time someone offers you food that isn’t good for your body, ask yourself “What is best for me?” and “What is best for my body?” and face your own truth. Then choose your own adventure.


About Janelle

Janelle Holden has spent hundreds of hours coaching people world-wide with celiac disease and food sensitivities how to transition to a gluten-free diet, stop struggling with food, travel with food sensitivities, and do more of the things they love. She is the author of, "Six steps to grab control of your diet and love what you eat" and an award-winning journalist, international coach, and speaker.

2 Responses to “Are you too polite for your own good?”

  1. Janelle September 5, 2011 11:33 pm #

    Janelle – it’s Janelle ;) I love this post and just had to comment. I’ve ventured with every single one of these options sadly. For a long time “C” was my go to answer because I “didn’t want to be rude!” but that was long before I realized just how awful it was for me…. Now I mostly stick with “D” and try to avoid “B” but sometimes, it just happens. Especially when your best friends can’t remember. The thought of “A” makes me laugh because I’ve definitely been there before too. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t expect anyone to bend over backward for me, but I am really, really appreciative when they do! Thanks for a great post -

    • Janelle September 6, 2011 5:33 pm #

      You’re welcome! I’ve done all of these options myself. In fact, sadly, they all come from things I have said. I am mostly in D now, but when I’m not, I realize it and notice it and allow myself a little grace. We’re all getting there on owning our truth.

      P.S. I still love your name.

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