- July 10, 2012
- Do you often find yourself telling white lies to spare others feelings?
- Do you choose to be resentful and bitter rather than confront someone about something that's bothering you?
- Do you pride yourself on being a "nice person" who "gets along with everyone"?
If this sounds like you – you’re in good company!
Many of us find ourselves being "nice" at the expense of being "real" or authentic. That's not to say that there aren't times that it makes sense to do this. Not all "niceness" is pathological – sometimes it's just about creating social ease in a certain moment – no big deal.
The problem arises when being nice becomes a persona, or a false defensive self that we construct to protect ourselves from the perceived dangers of being real. We lose touch with our "real self" because our "nice self" has completely taken over!
So, what is being "real"?
Being real doesn't mean being cruel or socially inappropriate. It doesn't mean running around town telling everyone what you REALLY think of them all of the time. Being real isn't the same as being harsh, mean-spirited or sadistic.
Being real or authentic is about knowing who you are, what you think, how you feel, what you want and need – then being able to express that in a clear, unapologetic way.
Sounds good, right? So then why does "niceness" so often take the place of "realness"?
If we venture to be real, we may express opinions that differ from the people we love the most. We might disagree, dislike, or feel angry at times with people we want to be close to. This often feels like too big of an emotional and relational gamble so we settle for “being nice”.
The Myths of Being Nice
1.) If I am nice, pleasant, compliant, and agreeable – people like me and I like to be liked.
2.) If I am nice, I will get more of what I want in this life (you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, right?)
3.) If I am nice, I am immune to criticism, no one can fault me or blame me for anything.
4.) Being nice = Being a "good person"
Ok, so what if, after all that, you still defend your right to be nice? Your not hurting anyone right?
See Part 2 of Stop Being Nice for the answer…….