Why Being ‘Nice’ Can Be Poisonous To Your Soul


“Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called “perfection,” which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.” 
~ Dan Pearce

Lovelies, today I want to share my perspective on ‘making nice’ with you.

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.

There is always a way to 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 a support role in someone else’s life. We become 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 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. As you begin voicing your honest thoughts, you give others permission to do the same. Being authentic can create great change. It invites miracles. And this week supports that kind of energy, so be brave and embrace your truth then live from that space and watch the magic begin to happen in your life. Choose love. Choose kindness. And above all, be true to yourself. It’s worth it! 

Much love, Nicole ❤ xx

Image from www.simplereminders.com

Steps Towards Loving and Accepting Yourself

“Your problem is you’re … too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” 
~ Ram Dass

“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

 

Most of us believe that to be truly loved by another, their love for us will be unconditional.

Unconditional love is a compassionate love that embraces and holds you in a person’s heart, regardless of your circumstances, appearance, conduct or beliefs. It is a love that is accepting and forgiving. It is kind. And often self-sacrificing.

A great example of this love is a client of mine, whose young son suffered a severe brain injury after a drink-driving incident (he was the driver) in which his best friend died. She cannot condone her son’s behaviour, and she is deeply saddened for him and the family of the person her son killed, but she still loves her son – not for who he was, but for all he’s ever been, including who he is now. She’s his carer, his therapist, his mum, his friend.

We all understand love like that. It’s a deep, true and abiding love. It’s the love most desired in our lives, whether from our family, friends or partners.

The one place we usually overlook when we go chasing love is the person looking back at us from the mirror each morning. And that’s because, for most of us, our love for ourselves is conditional:

“I’ll feel so much better about myself when I lose a bit more weight.”

“I hate my thighs. I can’t go on a beach holiday.”

“I can’t forgive myself for investing in that scheme. I’ve ruined our lives.”

“I’d like myself more if I could stop binge eating.”

“I’d be happier if I could just get a better job.”

“I don’t deserve that.”

“I’m so unfit. It’s disgusting.”

“I don’t have time for my own interests. There’s too much else to do.” (Said with sighs of resentment!)

Yep, that’s right. We’re often the worst offenders when it comes to loving and accepting ourselves.

Truth is, we are imperfect. And if we’re blessed to have a shining moment where EVERYTHING in our lives is magically wonderfully amazing to us and others, where we totally accept and adore ourselves, well, chances are that star will fade.

So, what are we to do?

Image from Her Campus

Image from Her Campus

No, I’m not going to have you recite positive affirmations while gazing lovingly at yourself! I’ve never found that particularly helpful, especially if you are suffering from low self-worth, anxiety or depression. Your mind will close down because you won’t believe yourself. Few of those positive words will get in and create the change you seek. You may end up feeling worse!

One of the most useful things you might start with is observing others. Go somewhere where there are lots of people; a food court at a shopping mall, a busy street, a hospital or school. Sit down somewhere comfortable and watch the world go by.

Here they are. Everyday people, just like you. Notice how few ‘perfect’ people go by. And what makes a person better or more perfect anyway? It’s almost impossible to judge a person’s life or state of mind just by their appearance.

We are what we are. And what we are is flawed.

Let’s look at some of those ‘perfect’ people…

That pretty girl is worried that her boyfriend is cheating on her, but she is doing well in school and has a terrific best friend..

The happy family who walked past are deep in debt, and the mother no longer talks to her sister, which causes her much pain, but they have a solid marriage and love their kids.

That well dressed wealthy-looking guy at the cafe has bleeding from his bowel, but he’s too afraid to go to the doctor. He has an incredibly successful career, and he’s looking forward to an overseas holiday. He drinks too much. He’s lonely and worries he may never find a partner to share his life.

See what I mean?

Look for the rhythms and stages of life. Babies, toddlers, school kids, teens, twenty-somethings, adults, families, middle-aged people, the elderly. Notice the activities and emotions you can relate to. Notice the love, and the friendship. Notice the laughing. Notice the busy-ness. Notice the loneliness. Notice the illness and the disability. Notice the stress and the sorrow.

Can you muster any compassion in your heart for these people? Can you see that, just like them, you too are connected to this flow of life?

This image from Randall Fountain

This image from Randall Fountain

If we’re lucky we’ll get to experience all of those stages of life in its glorious messy imperfection.

The more you watch the world, and see yourself as one tiny part of this wider global family, the easier it will become to be kind to yourself, realistic with yourself, and accepting of yourself.

Self love is an act of unconditional love. It arises from the awareness that we may all be individuals, but we are also all essentially the same, no matter what our gender, race or social status.

Life is one big humbling adventure. That adventure is made better, easier and kinder when we extend compassion and unconditional love to ourselves. You don’t need to be perfect to deserve your own love. Perfection is a myth. By practicing acceptance of ourselves, we find the love and compassion for ourselves will follow.

Desiderata, a prose poem of gentle wisdom, written by Max Erhmann in 1927, says it far better than I ever could:

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