No More Ms. Nice Gal!

It is the fourth week of my weekly self portrait challenge. Over 80 brave women (and men!) have decided to take part in the experience and have joined the 52 Weeks of BAM! group on flickr, and it’s been truly inspiring to see everyone put themselves out there in a very literal way!

This 52 weeks project comes along at a time when I’m reevaluating a lot of internal things I’ve got going on. At the beginning of the year I cleaned house and reevaluated between what I needed and what I was wasting time/energy/storage space on…now I find myself cleaning my psyche in much the same way. It’s just as difficult going inward as it was looking outward.

Realizing I have boundary issues (as in, I don’t have any!) has led like a domino effect to another discovery. In asking myself, “why don’t you have boundaries?” “why do you find it hard to say what you want?” “why is it hard for you to say ‘no’ or ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘that’s not OK with me…'” I opened up a whole other can of worms.

The long and short of it is, I don’t do any of those things because I’m uncomfortable feeling anything but “nice”. Isn’t that what girls are all about? Sugar and spice and everything nice? “Be nice!” “play nice!” “say that nicely!” “That wasn’t very nice!!!!” I’m, like, on nice overload.

I’m so nice, I don’t want anyone else to be uncomfortable…even if making them comfortable makes me uncomfortable. Because nice girls put other people first.

I’m so nice, often my reaction to someone treating me badly is to become even MORE nice, since nice girls don’t create or engage in conflict.

I’m so nice, i often apologize when nothing is my fault, just so I can avoid feeling anything but nice.

I’m so nice, I obsess about whether people think I’m nice enough. And then will be overly nice if I think there’s a chance they don’t.

Perhaps you are beginning to understand that when I say, “I may be the nicest person you’ll ever meet!” I don’t think of it as a compliment. It makes me, in fact, a doormat. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable and unhappy in a lot of ways…but since none of those emotions are ‘nice’ I just ignore them and become even nicer.

Other indicators of ‘overniceness’…taken from the website “Anxious to Please”…

You are always longing for something (or someone).

You feel worried or fretful so often it seems normal.

You often don’t know what you want.

You’re always thinking about what you wish you had said.

You constantly second guess yourself.

You apologize frequently, or for things you are not responsible for.

You take what you’re given instead of asking for what you want.

You get preoccupied with what other people think of you.

You are frequently surprised that other people don’t reciprocate your good will.

You do favors for people with the secret hope they will reciprocate.

You are more prone to feel sorry for yourself than to take action and fix a problem.

You tend to give more than you get (you might be resentful about this).

It seems like other people get the attention or the acknowledgment.

It seems like other people get the dates (maybe your friends tell you you’re a great catch).

Your emotional state mirrors your partner’s (if your partner isn’t happy, you aren’t happy).

If, like me, you answered yes to a large number of those questions, then I invite you to join my book club and read Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice. So far, it’s pretty dead on accurate for my situation of overniceness. I haven’t gotten to the solution yet, but there are quite a few chapters towards the end that promise just that. I’m ready to make the change.

Other’s may not be ready for me too, though. Being nice has it’s advantages. I was the perfect schoolchild because I followed the rules to the T and never spoke out. I was the perfect employee because I sacrificed my own good for whatever the good of the job required. I was the perfect girlfriend because I always agreed with my boyfriend, even if I really didn’t agree at all. I was the perfect friend because I never made any drama or had any knock down drag out disagreements. But really, it’s not perfect at all. It’s dishonest to myself and the people around me. And it takes a heavy toll to constantly provide what other people need without being able to ask for or get the things that I need in return.

I think I’m done with being too nice. I have a full range of expressions and feelings that need to join my emotional repetoire…not just the ‘nice’ ones.

So this is me. Not being nice. This makes me uncomfortable, but also? Just a little bit happy.



13 Responses

  1. Good on you!! I get it and think you’re so brave and bold. I’m looking forward to reading your continuing journey with this, if you choose to keep telling us about it.

    I probably should read that book, but it sounds DANGEROUS. I’m too nice to SAY that I’m too nice to allow myself to spend as much time on introspection as my personality desires … after all that’s focused on SELF when my whole life is focused on God and others (by my own choice, it’s true). Can these co-exist? I sometimes hope so. Thinking about myself is dangerous because it may result in me expressing my needs, and even if that’s done respectfully and politely, it’s not what people are used to so it makes them uncomfortable, which makes me agonisingly uncomfortable, so I crawl back into my socially acceptable shell and get on with ‘life’. Either that or I get depressed, because I realise for the hundredth time that being ME is not compatible with being me. You can see why my husband hates it when he thinks I’m “thinking too much”.

    So yeah, I’m with you!! And no, I’m not in a psych ward. Ha ha!

  2. awesome! I’ve been trying the same thing recently……. trying to get what I want… rather than what is handed me. Good for you, lady!! ;D


  3. Oh Tiff…that is me to a T. I may have to check that book out. But honestly…how many things can I fix about myself at once??

  4. And, we may be the same person.

    If we ever wind up in the same room, a gigantic, galactic hole might rip the Universe in half.

    I am also nice to a fault. I always stop and ask myself, “Is it my ego getting upset. Is this really a big deal.” and so by second guessing, I usually cave rather than stand in awkward silence.

    Darn that Eckhart Tolle, and his gal pal, Oprah.

    I’m scared to see the book, you know. I’m not sure I want to pull at that thread. haha! In the pics, you look like someone who could start a bar brawl. I like it.

  5. oh, man, i think i need to read that book, too. ooof. very intimidating, but i’m inspired by your post.

  6. You can be mean to me all you want and I’ll still be nice to you. 😉

    ❤ you.

  7. Tiff, commenting on any one of these last posts about your self-awakening would be far too long for me, because I can totally relate to everything you say! We are much alike.
    Thanks for sharing. I started saying NO to overniceness too. It’s a hard hard path, but let’s get strong together!

  8. You go!

    I did this about a year ago and started setting boundaries and drawing lines, though I did it nicely. Still, I lost a few friends as some people just had a really hard time with the “new” me.

    What I’ve gained though is a more comfortable skin, a confidence to say what I think and being okay with others disagreeing.

    And for those who did stick around, we have better friendships and deeper connections because I’m being more me.

    I love the pic…the little snarl suits you. 😉

  9. wow tiff..I had a situation where I finally put up a boundary…and it was NOT liked…kinda blew all up…but you know what…I’m ok with that..because it has given me less stress these days. So be it. Its always sad when you lose something like a friendshp, but when you realize it was always just one-way, it doesn’t really make you sad anymore. Big hugs to you

  10. Oh that’s me to a T. I once missed out on an internal job promotion to a more managerial role because of a personality test I had to do as part of the application. The HR guy told me the test revealed that I was the “perfect employee” – ie a doormat. To prove it, he then asked me to train the person who got the job instead of me. And yes, I was too nice to say no. 😦

  11. I have the same problem and am working on fixing it!!! I need to read the book and since I am not moving as quickly as I thought, I may have some spare time to do that!
    Good luck creating boundaries and saying what you want!

  12. I totally get this.
    I used to be the exact same way.

    It was scary to make choices that I used to think would make other people judge me or mad at me, but you know now my mantra is, “I just can’t tell you how much I Don’t Care!”

    It’s liberating!
    Go For It, Girl!!!

  13. Last night at dinner w the hubs I was “honest” w the waitress. After she left, I totally rehashed to interchange for 5 min finally asking the hubs if I had been mean. So I totally get where you are at. Being too nice keeps me quiet when I need to speak up. Being too nice leaves me unfulfilled. I’m going to read the book because i said yes to every one of those “indicators”.
    Thanks for your post and for being open about your journey. xo Sarah

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