Why Do People Exaggerate? And How To Stop!

We all know one or more people that like to exaggerate almost everything, and they can be quite annoying if you hang out with them too often.

Those people tend to make you feel like your life is not meaningful or impressive compared to theirs. Exaggerating is not only in a good direction some people like to exaggerate the bad things in their life but believe it or not, it can be perceived as bragging, at least in their mind. People tend to brag about weird stuff, not only about good achievements.

In this article, I will try to explain why people exaggerate and how to stop exaggerating if you are in a situation.

I will try to explain it in plain terms without complex psychological terms since I’m not a psychologist.

impress people

Why do people exaggerate?

There are a few different reasons why people tend to exaggerate when they communicate. 

The most common reason people exaggerate is that they want to impress the person/s they are talking with and grab attention in a conversation.

This can happen unconsciously, which means it is a habit for a person, or it can be done on purpose with the full awareness that they are exaggerating/manipulating the discussion to their advantage.

Many times it is related to personality, usually, someone that wants to be the center of attention in a discussion has a bigger chance to exaggerate things to keep the focus on them.

We can exaggerate things by being more dramatic about an event, even if we don’t use superlative words. So, it is not just a verbal thing.

Low self-esteem can also be a reason for some people to exaggerate things or events because they feel like the actual story might not be so impressive, and they might not be appreciated otherwise.

Manipulation through exaggeration: This usually happens when you know what you have to earn by exaggerating, and you are doing it fully aware that it is not the truth. For example, when you exaggerate your qualities in an interview or on the first date with someone.

It might not be a habit, but it is still a sign of low self-esteem, especially the second one with the date. To be honest, when it comes to interviews, many HR people expect to hear those types of exaggerations, I don’t know why, often it is a fake environment that leads to those expectations.

I’m not encouraging you to exaggerate at an interview since this is not always the expectation, but we must understand that it is what it is, and we all have to start somewhere.

Read Also: Losing Friends During Personal Growth

4 Ways to stop exaggerating

If you want to stop, that is a good sign, it is not easy to be aware that you are exaggerating and change this on purpose.

Here are a few tips that you can try to do if you want to stop exaggerating. 

1. Self-reflection

Self-reflection is always the best way to stop toxic behavior. First, you have to realize when and why you are doing it. You should not feel guilty when you realize you exaggerated something but rather be grateful that you are aware of this and consider it the first step in the right direction.

It is not easy to reflect on what you’ve said or done since we tend to be biased with us. But it will become easier with more training, so doing it is the only way to get better at this.

2. Ask a friend that knows you really well to keep an eye on you

Talking with your best friends about this problem and asking them to keep you accountable is a great idea. Since it will be much easier for them to observe when you are exaggerating things.

They don’t have to put you in a bad light by telling you right away if there are more people involved since this can trigger some bad reactions, but the fact that they will let you know when there is no one else is good enough since it will make you aware of the truth.

3. You don’t have to be in the spotlight all the time

Understanding that it is ok not to be the best at everything is a good start. You don’t have to have the most impressive story, no matter the topic. We rarely are the best at more than a few things in our group of friends.

I know, and I bet you know as well, people that always have a better story than you and will make what you said pale in front of their story no matter the topic. Those people are always annoying if you see them more than once, first time is ok, they are impressive, but soon all the people around them will realize that they are taking up all the air in the room and nothing is important besides them. Of course, they end up lying in many situations since it is impossible to be the best at everything, but they feel like they have to.

You have to be ok with the fact that life is not as impressive all the time as other people might make it look, especially in the social media era. The fact that you can’t be the one that grabs the attention in every discussion is not the end of the word, it is fine. Everybody likes people that make them feel important and gives them time and space to speak or tell stories, so to create a better relationship with people around you, sometimes you might have to be the impressed one, not the impressive one.

Read Also: Is Being Shy Attractive?

4. Try to use more realistic words as often as you can.

You can always ask yourself whether the word you used adds any value to the discussion or the situation we are discussing.

There is a difference between an “unimaginably hard decision” and a “difficult decision.”, also between “it tastes incredibly good”, and “it’s tasty or good”. We know that the food we cook most likely doesn’t taste incredibly or amazingly good all the time or the food that we have at a restaurant. It can be good or good enough but rarely is that incredible.

Some people confuse being polite with exaggerating or overreacting, and this tip might help them.

I know people that always use superlative words about food, and they are not even satisfied, and I’m talking about restaurants, not the food that I cooked, that would be more understandable. But even then, if you say”it was good,” I might understand that it was decent, but if you say” It was incredible,” I might understand that you really liked it, and I will do it again.

Is it good to exaggerate in some situations?

Usually, exaggerating is bad in the long term, if you are in some situations where you want to achieve something that you can’t without exaggerating, and you know that it will be a one-off and you will not interact with those people again, you can do it. However, the fact that you are manipulating something can be dangerous since it might make you feel like it’s easier to accomplish that thing than it actually is.

Also, having in mind that it is a one-off situation, you don’t know if you would end up better being honest rather than trying to impress since you most likely don’t know the person well enough.

The only situation where it is ok to exaggerate is when the intention behind it is not selfish. You can exaggerate how dangerous something is to make sure your friends/family will avoid putting themself in danger by doing something that is actually just slightly dangerous but without benefits. Like all kinds of vices.

Read Also: Is Setting Boundaries Selfish?


People exaggerate for many reasons, but most of them are selfish, so there are not many situations when exaggerating is a good idea.

Being more realistic and not exaggerating things might not put you in the spotlight fast, but when it does, at least it’s honest.

The downside of ending up in the spotlight by exaggerating is that it doesn’t teach you how hard it is to be impressive at different things; rather, it makes you believe it is easy.

I hope this article will help you understand why it is a good idea to stop exaggerating and how stopping it might help you in the long run.