I’ve been given many labels in my life, but “Nice girl” was the label I used to carry around with me all the time. I was your typical people pleaser. I’d drop everything to help others, I’d take on more jobs and responsibilities to make people feel better, I’d stay in conversations way too long because I didn’t want to be rude and leave, and it even got to the point where if someone bumped into me I’d be the one saying ‘sorry’!
Being nice was what I did. But instead of feeling great, I often left interactions feeling drained, hollow, and bitter towards others. Something about who I was being in these moments didn’t feel truthful to me.
Then one day I was standing at the counter of my local coffee shop trying to engage in a conversation with the barista, when neither of us was really interested in talking. I was injecting so much energy into being nice to this man, yet felt so uncomfortable, when all of a sudden I thought ‘Just stop…you don’t need to be this person.’
I allowed myself to step back and ask: ‘What’s driving me to constantly be this uber nice person ALL the time?‘ This simple question brought up a whole hoard of beliefs I had unconsciously been living in. Stories such as:
- Being nice to everyone makes others feel less intimidated by you.
- You’re more attractive and approachable if your nice.
- Nice ‘girls’ get rewarded.
- It’s respectful to put others happiness and needs above your own, especially if they are older than you or hold a position of authority.
- Being nice makes others feel good about themselves.
It became blantantly clear to me that the whole ‘being nice’ thing boiled down to being liked, and it was driving me to come across and act in certain ways I believed would gain the acceptance of others, rather than being true to myself.
I was choosing to place my worth in the hands of others, acting in a way that I thought was acceptable to them, and then waiting for them to respond in a way that validated me. My whole nice girl act was really an act of submission. So no wonder I felt uncomfortable.
Seeing how my beliefs around being ‘liked’ were shaping my identity, put the power back in my hands. I experienced a complete shift because I knew I had the ability to redirect my life simply by changing the story I was living. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be nice person moving forward, it was about learning how to stay grounded in my own worth, rather than seeking it. This in turn made the act of giving and being kind to others more genuine and driven from a place of want rather than need.
So, to all my big-hearted people out there, who find themselves in the position of people-pleasing and being overly nice at the expense of your own comfort, I invite you to check in with what’s driving you to act this way?
What labels have you adopted or chosen to give yourself that determine your sense of worth? How might you show up differently if these weren’t yours to own anymore?