We hear it all the time. “It’s only fair.”

“It’s only fair that you host 25 people for Thanksgiving dinner at your house this year.”

“It’s only fair that your ex attends all family celebrations even though they always put a damper on the entire day.”

“It’s only fair that you’ve put off your favorite vacation destination for 5 years in a row so your significant other can have what they want.”

Too many times, fair means doing something you’d rather not do or giving up something you really value. Fair means you are second because others are first. Fair means making a judgment call on how much you can give up—and sometimes it’s a LOT—to keep someone else happy.

Teamwork is a valid component of any relationship. However, manipulation often comes disguised as a call for teamwork. Here are some markers that could indicate you are being manipulated:

  • You feel at a disadvantage
  • Saying No doesn’t seem possible
  • You agree because you feel guilty

Some people know how to use kindhearted individuals for their own benefit. Once they realize you are quick to feel sorry for someone or quick to self-blame, they know the buttons to push so they can easily have things their way.

Clarity is easy. Simply ask yourself if you feel happy. Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people with love and joy in your heart? Or do you feel pressed and downtrodden? Do you enjoy seeing your ex arrive for a birthday party or do you feel obligated and end up miserable?

In healthy relationships, it’s okay to say no. Happiness is unlimited and abundant. Adding to someone else’s happiness account doesn’t mean you have to make a withdrawal from you own.

You have the right to:

  • set priorities for yourself.
  • say No without feeling guilty.
  • take care of yourself.
  • create your own happy life.

Give yourself a pass from the Fallacy of Fairness.

Many times people caught in this trap feel uncomfortable with saying a direct No. If that’s you, begin exercising your self-care muscle with these 3 tactics: Deflect, Defer, and Depart.


Deflect by making drastic changes to your usual plan. Think of deflection as bouncing a ball off a wall. It hits and goes in the opposite direction. No one can continue their cigarette habit while swimming in the pool. Same idea here.

Instead of the typical backyard birthday party, announce that you’re having Suzie’s party at a Play Place this year. All adults will serve as kid monitors while the children have fun. Different location, different activity, different kind of interaction—that means the dynamics between attendees will change as well. Running after party-wild kids means no one has to play nice with small talk. It also puts the adults in a place of service rather than enjoying cake and wine in kicked-back comfort.


Recommend someone else who actually enjoys the activity. “Joni has a pool table in her basement. Maybe she’ll host Thanksgiving this year instead of me. Her kids always love playing with their cousins.” Or “Tanya has been raving about that new restaurant near her. Let’s have T-dinner there. Tanya will be thrilled.”

When someone tries to pitch the ball to you, you don’t have to catch it. Let it go past you and land in someone else’s court.


Simply leave the area. You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money. Make plans elsewhere and keep them. A quiet weekend at the beach in the off season. A day trip to see the pandas. You have a blank slate to do what you enjoy. 100% guilt-free.

Imagine sleeping in at a half-priced beachfront hotel with the sea just outside your window. It’s too chilly to go into the water but the view is still amazing and the restaurants are much quieter than they were in the summer. Slow walks and slow days and peaceful moments. If that’s what feeds your soul, why not?

Whatever tactic you use, remember your fundamental right to take care of yourself and smile while you’re doing it. What Fairness Manipulation are you facing right now? If something came to mind. Start with that.

Note: Sometimes childhood programming puts us in a position to feel guilty while someone else takes advantage of us. Hypnosis can help. Visit StressResolution.com for more information on hypnosis and the wonderful results people experience after just one session.

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