I’ve always considered myself a nice person. I learned at an early age that your image is everything, so I would go out of my way to make sure I was viewed that way. When I was younger, I would prioritize other people’s feelings and convenience in place of my own. I always remembered to say “please” and “thank you,” and I would pour my love on thick in my interactions with people whether I was feeling it or not. I guess I thought to be good, you had to be nice, and I wanted nothing more than to be seen as a good person. The problem here was being nice all the time set me up for impossible standards. There was always the presumption that I would be nice no matter what. Also, a lot of my politeness was wasted on the undeserving. I was nice to people even when they wronged me, choosing to be passive about my issues or not confront them. I was starting to see how it led to people not taking me seriously, something I’ve worked hard to reverse in the last couple of years. For a long time, I had a hard time distinguishing between being a good person and being a kind one. Now, I have the confidence to say that I’m good without having to be nice, and man, can I tell you? There’s such a peace in that.
Being Nice: Why It Isn’t Always Necessary
Being a nice person means being pleasant, polite, or friendly. It’s also used as a sign of approval and attractiveness. But, being nice can also look like:
- Making sure you do and say all the right things.
- Going out of your way to put others before yourself.
I’m here for joy and kindness, but the problem for some is distinguishing the “when,” “where,” and “who.” I personally believe that being nice isn’t always necessary and for the sake of your happiness it’s important to learn the difference.
For example, when you’re being wronged or harmed, it’s not your job to be nice: it’s your job to use your voice. When you’re being open and honest about your feelings, it doesn’t have to look kind or sound polite; a lesson I find myself having to reiterate to my 8-year-old daughter a lot as she gets older. Like me, my daughter is an empath and often puts other people’s feelings before herself. I can tell she does it because she feels obligated to bring kindness into the world, which, I must admit, is pretty admirable and inspiring. However, I’ve already seen examples where other children have tried to take advantage of this kindness because it’s often mistaken for weakness. This very moment is where it usually gets in the way.
Niceness can distract us from the big picture, clouding our judgment when we see signs of blatant disrespect. In some cases, the signs are seen, but they’re just ignored because nice people may feel obligated to keep the peace. However, if someone is mistreating you, it’s not up to you to be polite–the priority should be to protect your peace. It is not your job to take on people’s malice, and the best way to get this to stop is to be assertive, a talent that will force your “nice” ness aside. The problem is when nice people find their hands tied by trying to uphold their impossible standard of “good,” all the while not realizing they don’t have to be. It’s ok! As a recovering “nice” guy, I’ve got your back!
How To Be Good Without Being Nice
If you’re still having trouble figuring out how to be good without being nice, I got you! Here are a few key ways to tell that you’re doing the right thing and not the polite thing:
- You Communicate Directly The keyword here is direct. Being direct does not have to be rude, brash, or abrasive. It also doesn’t require you to yell or be disrespectful, just honest. Communicating directly takes a lot of courage which is why people will often resort to being nice; they’re scared of the consequences of their honesty. However, being direct is the best way to get your point across clearly where there’s no mistaking your intentions. To be clear, you don’t have to be nice, and that clarity will earn you a lot more respect.
- You Stick Up For Yourself Good people often find themselves in predicaments where they have to be the hero and stand up for themselves, especially when no one else will. In a moment where someone is causing you harm or discomfort, later for being nice. What you should prioritize is security. Good people won’t allow themselves to be harmed. Why? Because they know it’s wrong, and defending what’s right doesn’t always look kind. But it’s ok, though: the good news is it doesn’t have to be nice if it’s necessary.
- You Stand Up For Your Values Good people usually stick to their core values no matter where they are and who they’re around. On the flip side, someone who’s nice may want to go along with the popular opinion just so they don’t stir up trouble. However, standing your ground and not going against your moral code is necessary to your individuality, and individuals will always earn more respect than “yes men.” Good people are comfortable using their unique voice instead of being someone who always goes with the flow just to save face.
Whether you identify as good or nice, just know that having one doesn’t require the other. To be clear: there’s never a bad time to be good, but you should save that kindness for people who match your energy. When you catch yourself being nice, ask yourself at that moment if it’s really needed or if you’re just using it as a safety net.
And if you find yourself falling back on being kind, allow this post to be your guide ❤
Here’s to happiness!
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