Admission: I’m a struggling, but recovering, Nice-oholic.
I never thought being nice would affect my mental health. But here I am, being honest about this addiction for the first time.
Being nice all my life has led to major self-esteem issues, loss of confidence, and allowing myself to be bullied and to become a martyr for this sick belief that other people’s needs and emotions are more important than my own.
There were some major bombs that set off leading to this self-discovery, waking me up to the realization that I cannot continue living this way.
So now I’m seeing a therapist to help me establish better boundaries and reading self-help books instead of my usual escapist fantasy or romance. Books about how not to engage a narcissist, how to stop being a pushover, how to stand up for yourself as an empathetic introvert in a world of loud voices and people taught to step on each other to climb to the top.
This is the essence of what I’ve learned:
Being nice all the time isn’t really being nice if it’s coming from a place of fear. Instead of being “nice,” it’s time to be REAL.
Being REAL means telling people what I really think instead of nodding and agreeing when I don’t truly agree at all.
Being REAL means saying NO when I don’t want to do something and not feeling guilty or worried that I’ve offended someone.
Being REAL means telling people how I actually feel instead of bottling it up inside. It means telling the truth despite the fear that they might not like me or that they might react negatively and never speak to me again.
Being REAL means not constantly apologizing when I don’t even have anything to be sorry about.
Being REAL means knowing I won’t be liked by everyone but being completely fine with that because those people weren’t my people anyway.
So here’s where it gets complicated for me. Everything I’ve listed above about being real goes against my nature, patterns I’ve long established since childhood and believed to be right and good and true.
It goes against who I’ve always believed myself to be. NICE. I have always prided myself in being nice. Ask any of my friends to describe me with one adjective. I guarantee they will say NICE or SWEET.
I have found a weird sense of identity in being that girl who everyone likes, who everyone goes to when they need a listening ear or comfort. It’s actually this sick, twisted kind of vanity, an obsession, to feel flattered when people compliment me on my niceness.
And it creates this vicious cycle where I continue catering and accommodating people even more to receive the praise and positive feedback I crave. Because I think hearing this praise makes me feel needed, and being needed makes me feel loved. Take that away—being needed—and I no longer have the confidence that people will still want to be my friends. It’s like if they no longer need me, then I’m not good enough as just me—the REAL me—to make them stay. If they see the true me—the imperfections, the vulnerabilities, the darkness—then I will not be perfect enough, and they will never love me.
By being overly nice, I’m putting on this show, and any mistake might cause them to stop loving me.
That is a huge burden to have, to never be sure that my friends truly love me as ME or just because they like the person who I’ve always pretended to be. An illusion of NICE.
So here’s what I’m working on now.
God calls us to live in faith, not fear. God tells us that we should not be living for the praises and approval of people, but instead, to live in His truth.
Going forward, my desire is to be REAL. To stop living to please people and start living in courage, despite the fear that the boundaries I place might make someone not like me. Maybe the reason God has been allowing so many dominant, controlling personalities and energy vampires into my life lately is so I can learn this lesson. So I can learn to shed this fake skin of niceness and become who I’m truly meant to be.