Are YOU Too ‘Nice’ for YOUR Own Good?


Last week’s post focused on the heightened drive toward ‘introspection’ that many people experience in autumn.

Today’s post will give you some serious food for thought about how you ‘show-up’ in relationships.

Today I will explore will explore a common, but unfortunately too often over looked tendency that can be hard to spot and even harder to effectively address.

The question:

“Are YOU too nice for your own good?” arose out of conversations from people in two distinctly different camps:

  1. Singles seeking, true lasting love.
  2. Couples trying to make the most out their existing romantic partnerships.

The question also arose in my consciousness as part of my practice of self-study.

What follows is what I found out about me.

My story around being too nice for my own good

For over 30 years I have been on a spiritual path of self-discovery and self-development.

Understandably, a good part of my self-image was tied up in my striving to develop the virtues that support a life lived from the heart- a life inspired by sensitivity, kindness, love, and compassion.

So a big part of my self-image was tied to always being forgiving, adaptable, kind, generous, tolerant compassionate and so on.

At times I was so attached to being seen as ‘nice’ that I confused being dependable with taking on much more than I really wanted to.

In essence I was very attached to being seen as ‘nice’.

This also meant that I was equally averted to people seeing me as ‘not nice’ – insensitive and self-serving.

While I believe that it is wise to cultivate virtuous qualities, my own attachment to always being seen as ‘nice’ often made it difficult for me to acknowledge and express my negative feelings, especially anger.

As a result, my negative, unexpressed feelings tended to build up in my consciousness negatively impacting all of my relationships.

The closer I was to someone, the more likely it was that my unexpressed feelings would simply ‘leak out’ negatively impacting our relationship while robbing me of the inner peace I was striving so hard to cultivate.


Does any of my ‘story’ resonate with you?

I invite you to take a moment and jot anything down that came up for you.

What I realized is that I am not alone.

In fact many people struggle with acknowledging, expressing, and processing their negative emotions.

This is primarily because they believe (either consciously or unconsciously) that negative feelings, especially anger and resentment, are incompatible with their striving to be ‘better people’.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of us get angry, impatient, and speak and act insensitively from time to time.

We can never learn how to safely and appropriately be with and express our negative feelings if we constantly deprive ourselves of the opportunity to do so by repressing them.

In other words, it is only through acknowledging and developing our capacity to appropriately express our negative emotions that we can learn to express and process them in healthy ways.

Another point:

When we try to gloss over our negative feelings by being ‘nice’ we are really sending two conflicting messages:

  • I am acting nice.
  • I am actually upset.

When we speak and act in ways that our not consistent with how we actually feel, people know that we are leaving something out, that we are not being fully authentic.

This creates confusion, both within our own being and in others.

More importantly, these sorts of unintentional mixed messages greatly undermine the sense of safety people experience when in our presence.

In addition, unexpressed feelings always find a way to ’leak out’. 

When this happens we have no control over the timing and who will be negatively impacted.

Finally, while people almost always sense when our underlying feelings are inconsistent with our speech and behavior, they generally will not directly tell us so.

It is simply more expedient to either avoid us all together or greatly limit how much they interact with us.

This is because we all want to feel safe in our relationships.

It is really very simple.

The feeling of safety in relationships is based on trust.

All mixed messages undermine trust.

In order for people to fully trust us we need to strive to be:

  • Fully authentic- truthful, direct, and transparent
  • Predictable- in order for people to fully trust us they need to know that we are not going to ‘fly off the handle’ and let our unexpressed negative feelings leak out.

The Solution

Develop your capacity to be with and express your negative feelings.

Keys to your success:

  • Give yourself full permission to experience all emotions.
  • When expressing any feelings always fully own them.

For example if you are feeling angry or disappointed, it is usually best to say something like:  “I am feeling angry and disappointed… would you be willing to talk about my feelings so that I can work through them.”

  • The Power of Blessed Vulnerability

Most people will move closer to you and support you if just ‘spill the beans’ and do your best to express what you are truly feeling.

You might begin the conversation by acknowledging how much you value your relationship with that person.

Then you might share that the topic that you would like to discus has feelings associated with it that you find difficult to discuss.

Then ask them, ”Would you be willing to discuss ________ with me’.  Or  “I would really value your support as what I need to talk about is hard for me”.

YOU get the idea.

Reach out, dig deep, and talk it all out.

  • Make time to celebrate your efforts

This step is often overlooked.

By taking the time to celebrate your efforts you are locking in the learning and beginning the process of actually ‘rewiring’ your thinking so that things will be just a little easier the next time around.

I sincerely hope that you found this post inspiring and useful.

I am here if your need me.

I invite you to support our community by posting a comment or question on my blog. I am here if you need me.

See you next week.

Live, connect, love and prosper

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Comment by Bill
November 4, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

Thank you Ron–Just today Jennifer and i yelled and screamed at
each other in a playful therapeutic way. We laughed and celebrated
hurt and anger. We are planning to coach each other regularly concerning
our feelings.—Rainbows—Bill

Comment by Ron
November 5, 2014 @ 8:59 am

Bill, Thanks for sharing. “Hamming it up”, followed by an open discussion can be a useful strategy… definitely not for people new to processing emotions or for those couples who are not as experienced and connected as you two.

Comment by stephen light
November 5, 2014 @ 3:01 am

Hey Ron

Frances and I have been through quite a bit and I noticed a while back we were very nice about stuff. It built up under the radar and then we would blow at each other. We have realised this and try to speak up early now. Thank you for the reminder.

Love & Courage

Comment by Ron
November 5, 2014 @ 9:14 am

Dear Stephen, Thanks for your authentic share. I have done exactly the same thing.
During challenging times I have also just tended to let things ‘go’, with the exact same result – the feelings just build up under the surface and wam- I get triggered or they just to become so powerful that they leak out in a blow up. Why I believe I / we do this: When this has happened to me I have mistakenly concluded one of several things: (1) I have bought into the lie that If I share what I am feeling it will only make matters worse, so I just burry my feelings; (2) There isn’t time right now to talk about things, our relationship is ‘solid’, so I’ll get to it later— later never arrives and then… I get triggered and the feelings come out in an insensitive way, injuring my precious relationship, and my loving wife. (3) The worst case is when I some how take out my repressed feelings on someone who did nothing to contribute to them…
Like all of us I too struggle… The good news is I am learning, growing, and that I have people like you in my life…. More good learning to be had. Life and it’s challenges are a gift, as are you and Francis. To Love & Courage

Comment by Rashida
December 26, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

Very inspiring and mind opening.Thanks

Comment by Ron
December 27, 2014 @ 10:08 am

Thanks for supporting our community by posting a comment. Happy new year, Ron

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