I won’t go into the specifics of the particular situation, but I remember clearly the moment a few years back when a description of my being “nice” was carelessly tossed into whatever the conversation was that a group of us was having and for the first time I identified it for the condescending insult that, in this case, it truly was. This person unknowingly(?) had a tendency to confuse what he considered my “niceness” as weakness and perhaps even lack of intelligence, and treated me accordingly at times. I hold no ill will toward him regarding this, as it precipitated tremendous and much needed enlightenment on my part regarding my behavior and actions toward others, both of which needed some restructuring. It was then laid on my heart that fully acknowledging my role would require looking further within myself, an undertaking that is rarely without discomfort as one goes about the business of uncovering information that is as necessary for our growth as it is painful to endure. Upon doing so I was made aware that my being “nice” often involved falseness on my part in order to please others. It was essentially an unconscious manipulative action in order to bring about a desired result (positive attention, ego stroking, coaxing another to my way of thinking, etc…). Kindness, on the other hand, is not something you put on and take off, but instead a decision you make in how you will live your life that is not based on feeling or the particular situation. As Elizabeth Lesser explains, “You can be fierce and kind, but you can’t be nice and fierce.” In other words, you can be kind to others without relinquishing the ferocity it takes to stand by your own requirements and desires for this life without apology. You are responsible for the way in which you treat others, but how they feel about you is beyond your control. This is not an easy concept to grasp at first, especially for people pleasers, but like any other muscle, a resolve to not concern yourself with others’ opinions of you becomes stronger as you work it. I have two “workout” methods I employ that do the trick for me. The first is the NOYB method:
The instant it crosses my mind that I am concerning myself with what someone else might be thinking of me I remind myself of this quote and I NIP the thought. Yes, I visualize those giant scissors I’ve mentioned in other posts and NIP. None of my business. End of thought. Move on. The second method I use is the CF method. This involves thinking of a person in your past or present life that you absolutely could not care less about what they think of you. They don’t interest you, they are irrelevant in your life, they just don’t bring on any kind of reaction whatsoever. I then transfer THAT person into the scenario I’ve concerned myself with in place of the person or persons that are causing my anxiety and step back and see with fresh eyes. Nope, couldn’t care less. I don’t care what CF would be thinking and how I view these people and their opinions should be no different. None of my business. Bigger fish to fry. Move on.
Being kind rather than nice is another desired behavior that involves doing the work without the focus being on any particular expected “end result”. Once again, the true “goal” becomes about the action rather than the result, but making it about the action brings you the result. When you set aside the need to be liked by others, you begin to embrace who you truly are by liking yourself. In liking yourself, you develop the potential to give yourself so much love that the abundance spills out of you and over those who find themselves fortunate enough to be in your presence.