If you ARE STILL TRYING TO BE A NICE GIRL, I want to encourage you to explore the idea that “nice is self-negating.” Meaning? When you put the other person first — their feelings, their wants, needs, preferences — allowing the individual to have what they want and need — you quickly start to disappear in the interaction. To be NICE means you are “exiting” genuine communication and connection. It’s not about you getting what you want or need instead — it’s about staying in the interaction until there is genuine understanding of both differences and similarities. And NICE means you “alter” what you actually want and need to say or do in order to please the other person.
Typically, that’s unconscious and well programmed behavior — meaning you learned to do what you are doing at a very young age. And you learned it to “get along” and be seen by the people you interact with (and as a child by the ADULTS in your life) as a good girl…well, actually, as a “nice girl.”
Before you start to reject the idea that nice is self negating, or conclude I’m suggesting alternative behavior that’s not okay, know that the end goal is to TRADE nice for kind, caring, connected, genuine and loving behavior. AND know that the alternative behavior creates real, genuine, lasting connected relationships…..but back to nice and the downsides of nice….
People who have “nice” as the dominant behavior in relationships typically grow resentful of the individuals they are being nice to! You can test that idea with these questions.
-Who are the people you spend a little less time with than you once did?
-The people who irritate you more often?
-The people you are overly cautious with?
-The people who are too hard to ask for something you need?
-The people who are hard to say no to?
-The people you may even avoid?
-The people you may have totally crossed off your list?
When we feel on less than equal footing in a relationship, the typical outcome is to back away….and usually without resolution. And backing away vs resolving the difference creates the illusion of avoiding conflict. But the conflict is there …. just unresolved. AND NOT BEING NICE does create the possibility of more conflict. But conflict — or a simple difference — that is resolved – makes relationships more connected….more genuine. And connected, genuine relationships pull us back for even more satisfying interaction.
To explore your “history” with NICE in more detail make a list of all the things you learned nice girls DO NOT DO. Start with childhood messages. My favorite from my mother: “Nice girls don’t get angry!” Wow, that one truly troubled and confused me. WHO among us does not get mad — at any age in life? And if a genuine feeling is identified as NOT ACCEPTABLE, what do you do with the feeling WHEN YOU HAVE IT?
FIRST you feel you are not being a nice girl and consequently head in the direction of working harder to BE a nice girl — making even more of who you genuinely are go underground. Understand there are exceptions to that reaction because some little girls choose rebellion….the opposite of being nice. Regardless, the genuine part of “who I am” can’t be expressed by extremes on either end of the continuum…too nice OR too angry or rebellious. Either pulls us from our genuine center.
To reflect a little more on giving up “nice” explore these questions:
-What has the effort to be nice done to you?
-What is it still doing to you?
-What are your options to current “nice girl” behavior?
-Finally, how can you start to make the change to different, healthier thoughts and attitudes and interactions?
The short hand of this concept: BE WHO YOU ARE. AND NICE negates that possibility. Kind, caring, loving and connected builds the relationships you value.
Try writing your thoughts about these concepts. Getting words on paper truly helps us feel better. And you deserve to feel as good as you possibly can. And if it helps, talk to someone you trust about this kind of change. And consider some reading. My book RELEASE FROM POWERLESSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE addresses these ideas. And THE ASSERTIVE WOMAN by Phleps and Austin gives great direction for change. You can always contact me if you have questions.