5 signs that you’re too nice


If you’ve ever felt like you are under-appreciated, resentful of yet another request of your time, or like breaking all the dishes that are in the sink because apparently you’re the only one who does dishes around here, but just put your happy face on and do it anyway, then chances are, you are too nice, and this post is for you.

But isn’t being nice a good thing? Yes. Well, sort of… not really.

The thing is, there is a difference between being a caring, generous person and giving until it hurts. You know what I mean. You give and give (of your time, emotional support, energy, love, whatever) until you’re left feeling empty. Not to mention feeling taken for granted or trapped in a job/relationship/volunteer project that you no longer love and it is draining the joy out of your life… and yet you feel you can’t leave because you might let someone down or hurt someone’s feelings.

When you forget about yourself and your own needs (and are left feeling unhappy to be helping), you are being too nice.

5 Signs That You Are Too Nice

  1. You never have time for yourself.
    Like for pedicures or hot baths, exercise or reading, or even an uninterrupted cup of tea… whatever it is that makes you feel nourished or taken care of. Anything that puts you or your needs first.

    Why? Because you put everyone else first. Like always. You worry that you’ll hurt someone’s feelings if you say no, ask for space, stand up for yourself, ask for what you need, or disagree with anything.

    You resent or judge other people who do take time for themselves (“They don’t care as much as they should or they’d spend more time ______ instead of getting pedicures all the time”).

    But really deep down, you’re jealous. And you wonder: “When will it be my turn?”

  2. You apologize for everything.
    Even when it’s not your fault. Even when there’s nothing for you to apologize for. “I’m sorry” falls hastily from your lips almost as a preemptive incantation to ward off any bad feelings from anyone. Ever.

    You’ve come to believe that if someone is not happy, it is somehow your fault. Deep down you feel like everyone else matters more than you do. (Which, by the way, is a load of poop).

  3. You feel overwhelmed, pretty much all the time.
    Because you can’t say NO. Or you feel bad when you do so you don’t do it very often. You even have a hard time making up an excuse to get out of doing something because you feel guilty about lying and anyway, what would they think if they knew you lied to get out of it? They’d think you were a terrible person, probably. At least that’s what you tell yourself as you buck up and say yes to yet another thing.

    You sometimes wonder how you’ll ever get it all done but can’t see any other way. You can’t drop any of it, because everyone is counting on you. So you push forward, knowing that you might utterly collapse before you finish all of it, but you can’t collapse because you’re the only one who can do it. You keep asking yourself: “How will I ever get it all done?”

    You have an amazing ability to be both “too important” to not be involved in everything and “not important enough” to have your needs met.

  4. You have lost sight of your own dreams.
    You are so wrapped up in managing and caring for other people’s feelings, thoughts, and needs, that you don’t even really know what it is you want anymore. Though secretly in those rare quiet moments you allow yourself, you wonder if there isn’t more to life than this.

    When you do take the time to consider what you really want in your life, you think things like: “What would my [mom / best friend / husband / boss ] think if I were to [take a leave of absence for six months / quit my job to become a yoga teacher / move to Bali ]?”

    They’d think you were crazy. At least, that’s what YOU think they’d think which is enough to make you forget all about looking for more and keep you right where you are.

    You are so worried that someone is going to think you are bad, crazy, something other than good/normal/nice, that you have stopped dreaming. You are paralyzed by the fear of disapproval.

    And at the end of the day, you aren’t really happy. While inside you long for something more, you can’t imagine doing something different because it might disappoint someone somehow.

  5. You are waiting your turn.
    You think that you will have time for what you want to do after your kids grow up or your husband finds a new job or this work project is over or any number of other reasons that you tell yourself why you have to wait.

    You want to make sure that everyone else has everything they need before you take a break or do something for yourself. It’s a noble thought, but one that just doesn’t work. What are you supposed to do on a flight in case of emergency? Right: put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else. Why? Because you’re no good to anyone else if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen.

    And anyway, if you don’t make time for your needs/dreams/feelings, no one else will.

It’s time to put yourself first.

I can hear you arguing: “But if I put myself first, won’t people think I’m selfish?”

Honey, you are so far away from Selfish you’re not even in a bordering country. It’s like you’re in Ireland looking across the water at England and saying, “But if I go there, won’t people think I’m French?”

The opposite of nice is not selfish. Taking care of yourself, taking time to do what you love (even if no one else asked you to do it… except me, of course), saying no to things that are stealing your precious time and energy you’d rather be using on pursuing your dream… none of these are selfish.

You matter. You do a lot of good stuff for a lot of people. And that’s AWESOME. But if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will — not the way you need to be cared for, only you can do that. (Not to mention, you teach people how to treat you, so if you treat yourself like your feelings don’t matter, guess what?… )

You deserve to be happy. As much as anyone else. (click here to tweet that)

To be happy, you need to know what makes YOU happy. You need to make time for yourself, make space for your feelings, and give yourself your own approval (because if you wait for everyone else’s approval before you do something for yourself, you’ll never do it… because you will never get everyone’s approval).

And by putting yourself, your needs, and your happiness first, you will be able to give so much more to those you love. ‘Cause you’ll have more to give.

By the way, if you’d like a little more help doing it, check out Good Girl Rehab.

How are you too nice? And how will you put yourself first this week? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: las initially via Flickr

10 Replies to “5 signs that you’re too nice”

  1. I loved this post and found myself quickly identifying with all the symptoms of being too nice. I literally had my first two hours of me time in over 3 months just yesterday. It made me feel amazing, I can’t believe people have that on a daily basis. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Pamela, congratulations on taking some “me time”! It’s so important for all of us to do that from time to time… imagine what it would be like if everyone took a little time for themselves and relaxed (my theory is that is the secret to world peace).

  2. Wow, I could definitely relate to many of the “too nice” symptoms. Thanks for another very insightful post Patricia. Perhaps I’ll get a massage this week and not feel so guilty about it afterwards : )

  3. I really relate to this. One of my issues is not saying what I really feel incase I upset someone, start an argument (which I avoid like the plague) or show people that I’m a really nasty person. Any advice. I just end up ruminating on what I should have said and it eats me up and makes me anxious, irritable and resentful.

    1. Hi Kate,
      I totally get this. And I have been there. Like driving home yelling in my car all the things I “should have” said if only I had had the guts in the moment. And I can appreciate how it feels like “if they only knew” what I really feel they’d think I was a really nasty person.
      But here’s what I’ve learned: bottling it up makes it a lot worse. It just sort of festers and builds up and eventually you forget the original reason you’re so upset but then you still feel all this rage inside (that’s how it was feels to keep it all in, as you know).
      I’ll write more about this (or respond in a video) very soon because this is a bigger topic than I feel I can do justice in this comment. But for now, know this: you are not a nasty person. All of those angry thoughts have been festering inside and you need to let them out somehow (journal? vent to a non-judgmental friend?). AND I’ve found that the “upsetting” thing I think I’m about to drop into a conversation ends up not being upsetting at all.

      So try disagreeing, or saying No, or sharing an dissenting opinion. I’m not saying scream and yell and curse at people. But if you don’t agree, then say so. (Scary at first, I know. But you GET to have your opinion. And your feelings really do matter just as much as everyone else’s).

      And here’s a quote (sometimes credited to Buddha) to consider: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

      More to come… ;)

  4. Wow I feel like this article has been written about me. I hate telling people no even though I want to inside, so I just end up saying yes to avoid hurting their feelings. Story of my life, trying to get better though.
    Thanks for the article.

  5. Holy bonkers…..I teared up reading this. This is my life. My 24 year old life. I have been that 3 am phone call, the one who does a majority of the cleaning, the one who walks on eggshells in their own home because the person they took in is “delicate.”

    I have taken care of my parents, my grandparents, my friends, and even people I barely know my entire life. I have seen so many other people’s lives become amazing, even more blessed than they every thought imaginable. I have wondered amidst the depression, the anxiety and attacks, the feeling taken advantage of, the disrespect, and the dessertion from one sided friendships: when will it be my turn.

    I know my turn is still coming, and life is better than ever, but it is still not where I know, and believe it should be. Why? This entire article…I haven’t actually taken me time but maybe a couple hours every few years. I don’t know what to do when I have no one to take care of, because I’ve shoved my needs so far below that a few hours isn’t enough to resurface and look at them enough to even figure out what they are.

    I may not be able to this week, but vacation is next week. I won’t do any hard work. I will have an adventure with my husband, I will try new things, even if they end up not being so good. I will ignore my cell, I will ignore facebook. I will just find myself.

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