Are you too NICE?

Image by andokadesbois.deviantart.com

Kindness is a loving balm, understanding is a mental tonic, compassion grows our hearts, love is food for the soul, but niceness? Far too often niceness is a poison administered to ourselves by our own hand.

There is a trend (and I recognise it because I once was in that same place!) where people beginning to become spiritually aware try to live from a place of unconditional love. That’s a beautiful thing, but too often what gets practised is not actually unconditional love but ‘niceness’.

Many people consider niceness to be a virtue; a sign of living from heart, and acting from love. I’m not referring to kindness, or good manners, or amiability. I’m talking here about pleasing others, not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, and being agreeable and amenable, even if it comes at a high cost to yourself.

Speaking our truth honours us, and it teaches us honest and direct communication that honours and respects others. Can we come from a place of unconditional love and still speak our truth? Absolutely! Because the premise of unconditional love is that we also love ourselves.

Authenticity requires us to live with honesty – not with silencing ourselves or suppressing our true thoughts and emotions.

Niceness is not about unconditional love – it is about giving up honesty in order to avoid disapproval, confrontation, rejection, ridicule or embarrassment. It elevates the happiness and well-being of others above your own.  It is based on falseness, and by its nature, niceness prevents honesty and authenticity. When you come from niceness you teach others to devalue you, and disrespect you. You do not set clear boundaries.

Niceness does not come from a heart-centred life.  It grows out of fear and a lack of self worth. It is a behaviour that goes counter to our intuitive wisdom, and to those gut-based mechanisms that keep us safe.  We tell people what they want to hear, we do and say things to keep others happy, or to keep the peace. We act in a way that pleases others but that robs us of a little (or a big bit!) of ourselves.

We can always tell the difference between being nice and being kind.  Kindness comes from a place of being centred, and it empowers us.  It strengthens us, as it strengthens others. We can act with generosity or compassion and there is no cost to us, or it is a cost we willingly bear.  We give without expecting anything in return, for the sake of uplifting others.

Niceness always leaves you with an aftertaste – you know you have’t spoken truthfully; you feel that twang of inauthentic energy, that twinge of discomfort, or you even get that sense of being taken for granted or taken for a ride. Niceness diminishes us, even when it strengthens others. We bite our tongue in order to say the flattering thing, we do the act with a little flame of resentment in our heart. And sometimes it starts out as kindness – but our kindness becomes expected, or disrepected – we are taken advantage of but we are unable to speak up about that and voice our own feelings. So we act nice instead.

When we choose niceness it poisons us.  It leads to depression, anxiety, shame, emotional distress, guilt, anger and despair.   Life-long patterns of niceness leave us open to exploitation, and invite difficult, damaging and dangerous relationships into our lives.

We end up doing things we don’t want to do – we can become an entirely different person to who we are on the inside. We can lose ourselves so completely that we have no idea any more what makes us happy, what our preferences are, what we want in life…

Taken to extremes, through living a life of niceness we can cease to exist.  Instead we become the support role in someone else’s life.

Cinderella, at home scrubbing the floors while her stepsisters are out having fun!

Are you too nice? Maybe it’s time to start honouring your own truth. Love starts with the self, and a healthy self-esteem can only be built by standing up for yourself, giving your feelings a voice, and attending to your own needs.  You can do that and still be polite.  You can do that and still be kind.  You can do that and still be likeable, lovable and accepted.  Don’t keep drinking that from that poisonous niceness bottle!

And if your acts of self-respect and kindness aren’t taken well by others? Maybe it’s time to  get some space, maybe it’s time to stop giving, maybe it’s time to move on… If you have to be ‘nice’ in order for your life to work, the price will always be too high. You might be surprised.  In voicing your honest thoughts, you give others permission to do the same. Being authentic can create great change.  It invites miracles…

Choose love. Choose kindness. And above all, be true to yourself. It’s worth it! ❤

86 thoughts on “Are you too NICE?

  1. This a fantastic post. I have been guilty of all the above, especially always pleasing others even when it comes at a high cost to myself, being ‘nice’ rather than authentic, being ‘nice’ rather than honest. And you are right it does leave one with an aftertaste, and a feeling of being taken for granted. You are also right that to overcome it, there is a need to start with a dose of self-respect for myself and genuine kindness for others. Thanks for this post, I have saved it to refer to later and will think about all your points carefully.

    • Hi Elizabeth! I think we have all been guilty of this at times. The important thing is having the courage to be kind to ourselves, and respectful of our own feelings and needs, even if this doesn’t always please other people. We have value too! Much love to you xoxo

  2. Absolutely awesome…perfecto! I was nodding my head from the first to the last word…smilin’ at the images…and remembering how I experienced depression when I didnt honour myself first. My name means ‘truth of the heart’…and when I live this I live my life in pure reverence & joy…now for a bike ride to my local farmers market…what a glorious day

  3. oh yeah true true true for me too! i was doing a meditation retreat recently and a message came through strongly that we cannot love unconditionally from ego, we can only do this from spirit. the ego’s attempt at love is actually love for itself, it’s internal projection of “my husband”, “my children”, “my whatever”, that is the ego’s creation, but love flowing from spirit and higher self is without conditions – in my experience always low self respect, fear and being inauthentic feed niceness! tnx for post sx

  4. I am currently reading a book I found free at the library, “Handbook for the Emerging Woman” by Mary Elizabeth Marlow. The author discusses several types of archetypal “bitches” including the one that is always nice on the surface, but resentful underneath. She is called “pleasing passive.”

    Every woman has at least one of these bitch archetypes to work through. Your post is interesting too because you bring up that pleasing passive again.

  5. I am a recovering nice person who has learned to, instead, be kind and tell it like it is. Everybody wins and those that prefer “nice” are really not interested in a mutually beneficial relationship. I find nice a little revolting now and that makes me very happy! Terrific post. Thank you for being so clear.

  6. So often your words are timely and what I need right in that moment….
    Thank-you Nic for being TRUE to you in order to give SO much.
    Love Trouble x

  7. A perfect post on what a lot of women do. I was brought up by a nice mother, who liked things to remain ‘nice’ because it was a safer place for her. Of course, I learned well because I loved her and was a ‘good girl,’ mostly. Then, through years of pleasing partners, I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted. I was unhappy at my core, but didn’t acknowledge it. Finally, I became ‘clinically depressed.’ I recovered through Prosac and psychoanalysis, but it was only when I found a spiritual guide (like you, Nicole) that I really started to learn and understand. If I hadn’t paid attention to Spirit and learned to ‘get my power back,’ I would not have emerged into a deeper understanding. I’m still on that path and it’s a bright one. Even when clouds come, I know they’re temporary because I have learned to love myself. Thank you for this post, Angel Nic! :)
    (BTW, ‘Cinderella’ was my favourite story when I was little!)

  8. This is the thing that I am most guilty of, and the thing I work on changing the most in therapy. It is not easy to learn how to “not” be nice, but not being nice does not mean that I stop being kind.

    I just stop letting people say crappy things to me and treat me like a doormat. I have also found that because I was too nice in the past (this follows your point about authenticity), people end up projecting all kinds of things onto me that have nothing to do with who I am and how I really feel. And because they think I’m nice, they don’t even bother to ask!

    Great post, Nicole! This one really resonated with me.

  9. oh I loved reading that!!! So True! In fact it doesnt serve anyone to be just nice.. I am slowly but surely starting to really get this..( has been a lot of hard lessons though get where I am today.) A great feeling comes along when You stand strong in Truth & Integity.. and by doing so, I think has helped my self Esteem & Worth begin to grow steadily.. all playing apart in being more confident with knowing what I know is the truth for me.. Sending you soooo much love and appreciation.❤❤❤

  10. Wow, I am a “nice” person! I need to work on myself more, I put others first ALL THE TIME! Thank you for yet another post that speaks to me ;)

  11. What a great post, and a great job at explaining the difference between being nice and being kind. I used to be the nice people pleaser, at the expense of my own happiness and honesty. Now I have learned how to say no in a kind way and speak my truth – it is a far better way to live, and I am now being true to myself and others.

  12. Wow!just had a lightbulb moment.I’ve been” Nice” since childhood it was a learned behavior being the eldest of four children i put myself last.Got worse in my teenage years.As life moves on you adjust to your level of comfort(something in the background but you cannot work it out until life gives you awake-up call,then you start searching .)Thank you,Nicole i love your insights ,you seem to just know what to write about.Just beautiful,you’ve made my day,Now i can put my finger on it,Give it a name and do some work.Thank’s from the bottom of my heart.xxxxx

  13. Hehe!! Well I speak exactly what I’m thinking all the time. People either love me for it or hate it!! But I’ve come to the conclusion that all haters will eventually become lovers.. So it doesn’t bother me as long as people and family get me for who I am.. Love <3 happy Saturday.. :D

  14. Another gem of a post…I suffered from chronic “niceness” unitl I was in my late 30s. Was not a fun place to be. I mixed up niceness with love. I don’t anymore. Now I am raw to the bone in my truth and feelings, very authentic, but also practice unconditional love and forgiveness. Release of fear is the key for me for unconditional love. I just love how you write. You are very gifted….a wonderful vessel for spirit and love. Hugs, Sam

  15. Ahhh Niceness, you poisonous child… followed closely by ‘Inoffensiveness’ your ugly twin. Niceness who just wants to be loved and Inoffensiveness who tried to be ‘Nice’, but like the puppy who keeps getting smacked on the nose, decided it was easier to be invisible.

    Such a timely post. Thank you Nicole. xx

  16. “Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice!” We are taught from early on that we must be sweet, nice, unselfishess, etc. How difficult it is to allow ourselves to value our own dreams, desires and needs after a lifetime of being told to “be nice!” You have written a much needed post, my dear. One we should read regularly until we are able to see the difference between nice and kind, self-respect and self-centeredness. Thanks! hugs, pat

  17. Thanks Nicole! I was there in a recent relationship. I let my love slip into niceness, instead of being true to what I knew to be right, and letting the cards fall where they might. Now I plan to be the loving, true me! Yay! ( :

  18. this is superb! I also came from that place, and it took many years and much work get past it. I was always taught to “be nice”. I was often told “that is not nice”. “Nice” was the way to go. I have shared this on facebook highlighting the following paragraph: “Niceness is not about unconditional love – it is about giving up honesty in order to avoid disapproval, confrontation, rejection, ridicule or embarrassment. It elevates the happiness and well-being of others above your own. It is based on falseness, and by its nature, niceness prevents honesty and authenticity. When you come from niceness you teach others to devalue you, and disrespect you. You do not set clear boundaries.”. You say things that so need to be said, and say them SO beautifully. I would like to reblog this as well with your permission.
    much love light and JOY

    • It’s a hard thing to get past, especially when you’re conditioned to be ‘nice’ from a young age. Took me a long time too, and I still find myself falling into old patterns sometimes. But I could never go back to that place. Authenticity and kindness work much better for me! Bless xx

  19. Reblogged this on Not In India 2012 and commented:
    As always, a must read from this amazing blog (which I highly recommend you follow and explore) “Niceness is not about unconditional love – it is about giving up honesty in order to avoid disapproval, confrontation, rejection, ridicule or embarrassment. It elevates the happiness and well-being of others above your own. It is based on falseness, and by its nature, niceness prevents honesty and authenticity. When you come from niceness you teach others to devalue you, and disrespect you. You do not set clear boundaries.”

  20. Ahhh, I remember those days so well – that was my whole life, until I finally learned how to nurture myself as well as everyone else! It’s taken years to learn how to ‘parent’ myself, discover my own worth and speak my truth. I’m so glad, and feel so much less stress and heartache knowing that I can now be kind, loving and forgiving to everyone – including myself! Terrific post, Nicole, thank you so much! I also shared this on my facebook page, saying: “Nicole is a wonderful writer with incredible insight and wisdom; a beautiful soul – and gifts us with terrific recipes to boot! A blog well worth reading! ~ Julie xox “

    • Thank you so much, Julie! Your support means the world to me. I don’t know how some people survive the stress of always being nice, and going against their own heart wisdom. It’s so much better for everyone when we honour and speak our truth. Bless xx

  21. You have such words of wisdom, Nicole, and so wonderfully expressed. You illustrate the crucial distinction between “nice,” “kind,” and “manners,” and that is a distiction I am finally learning myself, after all these years!
    Interestingly, I just did a post on the importance of silence–for our own reflection, communication, and understanding. You expose the flip side of silence, which can be damaging.
    Altogether a terrific post! Well done, again, Nicole.

    • Thank you so much, Robin. I’ve just been busy writing today’s blog, which explores the wisdom in silence. But not the silence we create by failing to speak our truth – the silence that dwells within us that is wise and knowing. Seems like we are on the same wavelength! Shall pop across and read your post too. Much love to you xoxo

  22. Love the comparison of niceness and kindness. First comes from the head, latter from the heart. Can not be nice the whole life, yet feel bitter and out of balance inside. Thank you for sharing this truth. As you write so beautifully, we must always stay true to ourselves and respect ourselves, before we can be kind towards others. Kindness starts with yourself.

  23. Nicole, lately several of your blogs/posts have really spoken to me. They have been exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment. It’s like my highest/wisest self was sick of being ignored by earth-bound Mia and enlisted the help of your highest self to wake her up! Thank you.

    The day before you posted this I tackled a difficult situation by being “nice” and “polite” about it. All night I had this icky feeling like I had somehow sold out. I had let myself and my family down. I felt weak and powerless. I knew I was too desperate to avoid confrontation and unpleasantness to speak my truth assertively and respectfully, and so reverted to niceness as a “tactic”. Well, needless to say, it didn’t work.

    With your post in mind, I have just written a carefully worded but honest and direct email to the person concerned and cc’d their superior demanding that the situation be rectified immediately. The superior returned my email minutes later- at 10pm!!- saying he would make sure it was dealt with first thing in the morning.

    And guess what? I feel energised, positive, clearer and just a little bit taller. And whereas I usually want to crash by now, all I want to do right now is write. Creative flow come on down :)

    Much love and gratitude to you xxx

  24. I’m still working on being ‘too nice’ because I have this fear of being hurtful to someone. Doesn’t seem to bother anyone else if they hurt me! Today you’ve taught me the difference between being nice and being kind. Kind is much better. I don’t want to be caustic and rude even if they are to me, but I need to be more firm about loving me and who gets away with what! Being nice almost feels like an announcement of “I’m a mousy pushover–go ahead and walk on me” No ma’am!! I don’t like that thought very much. Here’s to rearranging some thought patterns!

  25. Such an amazing post which just resonates so much with this nice girl. So important to be liked and understood that I forgot that I’m the one that needs to be giving those things to myself. Years of doormatting myself or saying no and feeling like a bitch, I forgot the in-between — firm and loving kindness is indeed a “solution”. Thank you for such clarity.

  26. That post touched me very very deep. I saved it as I need to read it again and again and meditate on it. Once I did, i will come back and comment. Thank you Nicole <3

  27. I loved the post and reflected on the picture of Cinderella. (Not commenting on the “I need a man to save me theme.”) What was brilliant about Cinderella was that she did her things out of love. She never complained and was truly kind. She did come from a place of being centered, not just trying to please and she was happy and joyful despite her predicament. If course she is fictional but it is an important distinction giving the message you are trying to convey in this post. Her demeanor can contribute to your point. It is hard because we think she was treated awfully, but Cinderella was singing with the birds and loving to everyone around her, happy and blissful at even the little things. :)
    Love,
    Jodi

  28. Great article i’m way to nice i accepted a job i don’t want at church just to please my mom i even gave a friend who beat me up and scolded me a 2nd chance as if nothing ever happend .thanx this article is truly eye opening

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