Are You Saving Face?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about how we both wasted so much time in our lives, making decisions to “save face.” The dictionary definition of this is to avoid humiliation or retain respect. In our situations, these decisions were both related to marriages. I stayed in my previous marriage far too long because I was trying to avoid being humiliated by being divorced for the second time in my 35 year-old-life. My friend did something similar in that he was avoiding the humiliation of exposing the fact that what seemed to be a picture-perfect marriage and family was anything but that. How many of us do this repeatedly in life? We make choices to save face because we’re embarrassed by the fact that our life isn’t perfect or we’re ashamed that we made a mistake. I laugh now when I think about the years I spent trying to save face, only to end up getting divorced anyway.

Since then I’ve heard many stories from clients and friends about decisions they’ve made because they couldn’t bear the thought of other people finding out that they aren’t perfect or that their life didn’t match their Facebook and Instagram photos. In case you’re in an uncomfortable situation (whether personal or professional), and remaining in it to save face, here are a few reasons you might want to choose differently.


As previously mentioned, the definition of saving face is to retain respect. Ask yourself whose respect you’re trying to retain. The number one priority should be self-respect. If you respect yourself, others respect you. (Remember that you teach others how to treat you). Self-respect means honoring what is best for you. Staying in a marriage that was toxic and bad for me was the antithesis of self-respect. Leaving the marriage is what allowed me to honor myself to the fullest extent.  Honor yourself; save face with yourself above all else. This leads to the next reason to not make a choice to save face:


Is avoiding humiliation worth your happiness?  This was one thing my friend said about his marriage – he was unhappy and eventually the price of saving face cost too much. It wasn’t worth his happiness.  Is it worth yours?  You’re meant to live a happy life, not live life hiding behind a mask of perfection and trying to avoid being embarrassed or ashamed. Don’t sacrifice your happiness to save face because the chances are good that eventually the price will be too high, and you’ll make the choice you’ve been avoiding all along.

Life is Short

See my prior point! Happiness is key because life is short. Honor yourself, respect yourself, and make choices that are good for you and make you happy. This not only has benefits for you but all those in your life. Don’t waste time trying to avoid a choice that may temporarily be painful if it will lead you to greater joy. Life is just too short for that.

And finally, remember that other people are also filtering their lives on social media, showing the highlight reel, and acting like their life is picture perfect. But you know the truth – it’s not. No one’s life is perfect. Everyone is dealing with something and struggling with something. That’s just part of being human. Being authentic and real with others is what makes the struggles bearable and also what makes life so beautiful, even during difficult times. So, be real, be you, do what’s best for you and don’t worry so much about how other people may view it or what they may think of it; chances are they aren’t even paying attention.

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