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.
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! ❤