I am a recovering nice person too.
You know the drill:
Smile, be nice, be kind, put others above yourself, think about other people, don’t make waves, don’t make people upset, avoid conflict at all costs.
Did anyone ever consider the costs of suppressing all their emotions, preferences, and eventually diminishing their sense of self-value?
Not until they get fed up,
like I did.
You know what happens to “nice” people?
They adapt to being last, they swallow their feelings and do not speak up, they wonder when it will be their turn to receive, they feel disappointed, and eventually resign that this is just how it is.
Well, YUCK. I don’t think life was meant to be that way for any person. I believe in our inherent value, and that we all deserve to communicate our feelings, preferences, and be open to receive from others. We can make requests, and receive with ease. Nowhere in nature is it one sided, give and receive, ebb and flow, why should our experience in life be any different? And perhaps, is Nature trying to tell us we deserve to receive by sending us signals to our body and emotions so we can be in balance and live satisfied knowing our unconditional value?
How do we Care—because we genuinely do care about others—but not CARRY the burden of caring?
1. You Matter AND They Matter.
This is not an either-or thing. Many people who put other’s opinions or preferences perpetually above their own do not add themselves onto their own priority list. They’ve been so conditioned to give, give, give…and then wonder why there is a deep, growing resentment when no one gives back, or they flat out are not acknowledged for all their caring and giving. They then judge themselves for being selfish, and feel guilt for feeling needy or or having needs in the first place. This often leads to some form of breakdown; from a mental symptom of depression or anxiety, or a physical problem that modern medicine can’t seem to heal.
Nice people don’t know their body literally has their back. Their body understands give AND receive. The body and emotions are trying to get this person’s attention, not punish them. Putting your self first IS good for everyone.
2. Your Relationship to Yourself Trains Others How to Treat You
Your self-relationship is the beginning of re-calibrating any imbalances in your life relationships; kids, friends, co-workers, etc…. Yes, your relationship to yourself. What is your favourite food? Favourite movie? Flowers? What are your preferences. Nice people, seem to become like Tofu after years of acquiescing to their kids needs, their family, their partner, their work culture…they lose themselves in all the concessions made in the name of being liked and seen as a “good person” or “nice person.” Start small by making requests of the restaurant to go to, your favourite holiday, how you take your coffee, interrupting someone who is over-talking when you are late, selecting your favourite flavour, limiting your time at an event if it feels taxing… start small. Moderate the amount of times you say, “it doesn’t matter,” “Don’t worry about me,” “Whatever you want” these phrases rob you of your power.
3. Honour your Anger
Nice people don’t get angry. Nice people don’t yell or speak up. They turn the other cheek right?
When we continue to put ourselves last we experience something called power-loss. This can be felt in the stomach, almost like you are punched in the stomach or it is tied in knots. Or a constriction in the chest, also known as our heart centre, which can also come in the form of shoulder tension or slumping of the shoulders. Nice people neglect themselves for far too long, which then causes more extreme symptoms their natural intelligence uses to get their attention and force them into awareness. At first it shows up as irritation, or fatigue. Later, small outbursts at pets, kids, or random store clerks can occur in an attempt to release the pent up anger.
Eventually, when nice people continue to repress, they can develop illness of all sorts. Anger is the first sign something is wrong. Toxic anger is not what I am talking about here, anger that is explosive and abusive- no. What I am suggesting is the first stages of anger, the irritations and perturbations that are trying to bring our attention to something that is off, an imbalance that needs attention. From an employee slacking off but you want to be buddy-buddy and avoid conflict, to your partner consistently not remembering to do something that matters to you. We need to pay attention to these initial symptoms, process our own emotions, then take centered action—not reactive action—to bring the situation to a resolution. You are not a bad person for feeling any emotion other than OK or happy. You feeling anger leads to healthier relationships. Anger gets your attention and tells you something is off and gives your the energy to act.
Consider this article a wake-up call. I do not expect you to start claiming your space and honouring your worth by tomorrow, but perhaps you will consider putting yourself on your own priority list.
When you meet your own authentic needs it is in the highest for everyone. Being nice is not nice if your are not nice to yourself. As you honour yourself, it inherently is best for everyone.