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
- 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?”
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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