I used to think I was a nice person. I’m a compassionate person. I can be a kind person, but I am not nice. There is a big difference to me. There was a time when I cared very strongly about what everyone thought about me. I wanted to be liked by everyone, so I would pretend to be nice to everyone. I would give. I would do whatever I thought would make them happy. I thought that was the price of love. While doing this, I was abandoning my own needs, thoughts and feelings.
The dictionary defines nice as: pleasing; agreeable; delightful. It is not humanly possible to be pleasing, agreeable and delightful all the time unless you are denying your own emotions, needs and thoughts. Within a friendship or relationship, there are going to be times when you disagree or when you say something that the other person doesn’t want to hear. If that never occurs, someone in the relationship is denying their needs. I was that person in the relationship until I realized that my needs were just as important as the other person. I realized that I knew everything about the other person, but they knew very little about me because I was suppressing who I was to maintain the relationship. I was making the other person’s needs more important than my own.
Being nice isn’t a bad thing. But, the problem comes when your intention behind being nice is so someone will love you. When you hide your true self behind the mask of “nice” to avoid the difficulties of being involved with other people, you are abandoning yourself to maintain that relationship. You are creating an image in the other person’s minds that you are always available, always giving and that you don’t need anything in return. At the same time, you are building resentment because people won’t equally abandon themselves for you. They won’t drop everything to be by your side because they think that you don’t need anything. Dr. Phil says that you teach people how to treat you. When you abandon your needs, you teach people to ignore them as well.
Life is about balance. As I said before, I am kind and compassionate. I give in my relationship, but I also expect them to be there for me when I need them. If I know that someone won’t give to me as much as I am willing to give to them, I have two decisions to make. Either I will no longer interact with that person or I will meet them at the level that I can handle. Anything I give must be from my heart. Before I give, I check-in with myself and ask, “If I do this, will I feel resentment later when it is not returned?” When the answer is yes, I decline to help. I honor myself first. I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, the friend didn’t get upset. The truth I learned is that I was always waiting for the other person to realize that they were unfairly taking advantage of my being nice and, magically, love me the same way that I was loving them. Most people have very little guilt in receiving after the first few times, because they assumes that you are always giving what you want to give. So, I figured out that I couldn’t blame anyone else if I was giving more that I could afford to give.
True friends will respect your emotions, your needs and appreciate your thoughts. Rich relationships are created when people learn how to accept you and love you for who you are. When you are nice to keep the peace, you are cheating the other person out of their own growth and acceptance. You are not giving them the chance to learn how to really love. You are also not trusting them and discounting their ability to adapt. Being nice while hiding your true feelings is fear-based. You are fearful that if you are the real you that you will scare the person away or make them mad and they will withdraw their love. You are discounting your value or worth. Being agreeable keeps you from the true intimacy you desire in that relationship. As long as your are inauthentic, you can never feel close to the people in your relationships because they don’t know the real you. Have the courage to fight the good fight and show that you have your own needs, thoughts and feelings. Only then will you get the true benefits of every interaction in your life.
You can be kind. You can be compassionate. But, if you want to be nice, give what you can afford to give. Any friend that doesn’t want to be around you because you are no longer giving while asking for nothing in return has proven they never deserved your friendship in the first place. As you love yourself more, you will find that your capacity to give will grow because you won’t be as resentful. And you will feel the comfort of knowing that your true friends love you and accept you whether you are giving them something or not. You will find that they love you for you and that is all we really want is love.
“If you want to have the kind of relationship that your heart yearns for, you have to create it. You can’t depend on somebody else creating it for you.” ― Gary Zukav