I'm tired of being nice

September 20, 2018

I've been thinking about this for a long time. In fact, I think this is the title of my next book. It's such an important topic, and one that I suspect just about every woman can relate to in some way or another.

First, let me define what I mean by "nice."

I don't mean that I don't want to be kind, compassionate, or generous. I hope I am those things, and certainly want to continue to cultivate them in my life.

But I'm totally done with being "nice."

"Nice" is:

  • always acquiescing to others
  • not voicing your opinions because you're afraid of others' reactions
  • people pleasing
  • allowing others to dump on you; putting up with rudeness
  • not speaking up
  • being afraid to say "no"
  • always scanning the environment, making sure you aren't displeasing or offending anyone (and, of course, you don't want to be purposefully offensive; I think you know what I mean here)

Many of us, especially of my generation, were raised to be "good girls," expected to be nice and polite and accommodating. Of course, much has changed, but old habits and ways of thinking can be hard to change.  I'm way better than I used to be regarding all this. I had to be; being "nice" contributed, in part, to a worsening of depressive symptoms, leading to a major depressive episode I experienced some years ago.

Met this wonderful llama at a lavender festival this summer.
Do you think he cares what anyone thinks? No, he's not afraid to be his own, delightful self!

A lifetime of being "nice" can lead to all kinds of problems. Repressed anger, frustration, depression.

And we may end up squelching or tamping down all the wonderful, quirky, fun parts of our personality. The strong and ambitious parts. The creative and adventurous sides.

An interesting idea occurred to me recently. I've always thought I was an introvert. I based this on the fact that being with people usually wears me out. Instead of being renewed and refreshed after spending time with people, I'm usually exhausted and need some alone time. This, I've read, is characteristic of an introvert.

But what if I'm so busy trying to be "nice" and kind and understanding and a good listener, etc., etc., that I'm just worn out? What if I spend so much time worrying about what others are thinking and feeling that I don't just be myself? All this trying to be the "perfect" person, the person you think  people want you to be, is exhausting.

(Of course, this is why we all need close friends, friends that we can be ourselves with. Thank God for them!) 

So how do you counteract this tendency to be "nice?" Some ways to start could include: 1) start saying no to things you really don't feel called to do (remember that not every need is a call); 2) give yourself permission to express a differing opinion, respectfully; 3)learn to speak up when someone's being rude or taking advantage of you; and 4) walk and sit and talk with confidence (and fake it 'til you make it) -- you are greatly loved by the One who made you.

We may feel we are being rude, selfish, or bossy when we step out of the "good girl" role. No. We're just being reasonable, confident, adult people. It takes practice, but don't you think it's time?

What do you think? Is this a good book idea?


  1. Great idea. I learned this lesson sometime within the last few years. I think it took turning 60 for me to STOP saying YES all the time. I said YES even to things I didn't want to do. I finally got tired of being a doormat...and I finally said NO- I'm sorry- I CAN'T! Talk about feeling guilty!?! I sure did- at least the first 10 times I said NO...and after that? Well, it got easier and easier and easier. I think it goes along with not being a people-pleaser.
    Great post, Deborah! xo Diana

  2. I agree with Diana; great post and it took time for me to stop feeling guilty when I said no. I must admit that I have slipped again in the last few years and really must put my big girl shoes on again.

  3. Go for it, Deborah!

    The theme is also coined as 'don't rock the boat', 'what will the neighbours say' and 'you'll be disappointing Jesus'. I once took on a too-heavy load that I'd been guilted into taking and when I found myself stumbling for the weight, I talked to Him about it. He showed me that He'd never asked me to do that thing. It was a turning point for me. To pay attention to my own heart about what things to give my time and energy and money to.

    I agree, it's not about not being kind, compassionate, or generous in our lives. It's about knowing what we're truly called or drawn towards, those things on our own hearts that we pour our lives into. Being able to say no with a smile and grace, with no explanations, and no guilt or shame.

    Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places...
    Brenda xox

  4. My daughters were always saying to me No is a sentence you don't have to explain. It took turning 60 for me to be ME. A wonderful topic for a book.

  5. This post has been read and re-read by me since you posted. I like to be nice; I rarely succeed. My mouth gets me in more trouble. There is a balance to be struck and I seldom find it. So, yes, a book with quality suggestions would be great. My own suggestion is similar to what Brenda said...do not do one thing that The Lord did not make very plain to do. That simplifies things some.

  6. Oh my--so thought-provoking. Yes, write the book--you have good insight. I think there is a fine balance here but if we are awake and realizing what we are doing as people pleasers, we can be bold, with God's help, to be more discerning with our lives. Thanks for a great post!

  7. It's an excellent idea for a book! Sign me up for a copy. No rush, just when you're ready to write it...no pressure...just kidding... The Urban Farmer and I were discussing something along these lines one morning at breakfast. It is truly exhausting to "make nice", particularly when you're around people you don't know very well or are not particularly fond of them. This is such a good idea for a book as many folks can relate to the topic.

  8. I feel that this a multi-faceted issue. Although I am quite the independent woman whose motto has been "No one bosses me around", there are still many times when my insecurities nearly swallow me up... I want everyone to like me and if I think I have offended someone, it bothers me terribly. I think we all have known people who say and do pretty much what they do without a care if they offend someone or not. I have nor do I ever see myself being a doormat but somewhere lies a happy medium. What a great subject for your book, Deb...can't wait to read it!

  9. Oh, that's a hard one! Easier said than done. Thankfully, I rarely face that problem anymore but if I do I will try to remember that very cool llama. Were you ever able to see his eyes?

    Of course I think the book idea is a good one! It would be very helpful.

  10. The most difficult thing to me, at this point in our country, is to absolutely NOT understand WHY everything political, etc. is so divisive. Why is the media so fascinated to see our President fail. He's our President, like it or not. I don't turn on the 24/7 news any longer because I don't see the point of OPINIONS rather than news. My neighbors have OPINIONS and I would rather listen to their's. Saying no is very very difficult. If I don't want to do it I just say I already have plans and cannot make it. Then, I do not explain. Nothing further is said by me. No is, thank you, however, I cannot. I think we must help our citizens, especially our elderly, infirm and our military families, if we can. Volunteer. That's a really nice feeling ! Great reading this !!!

  11. A very interesting read and I do think you have a point. Not sure I can totally identify but it made me think about the amount of sacrifices that we women tend to make. As a wife and mother I have ALWAYS put my children (now grandchildren) first; always made sure they had what they wanted/needed before thinking of myself. I'm not complaining and I was glad to do it (for the most part), but now that I am older (and a little wiser) I have learned that it's OK to pamper yourself sometimes and to (occasionally) put yourself first. After all, everyone needs to love themselves and everyone needs to feel special sometimes. I'm sure you could write an informative book...so go for it!

  12. It is a fantastic idea for a new book!!! I can so relate. I was nice, because my world was not... and it was a way to establish some sort of equilibrium. It became the way that I related. And was very detrimental. I underwent 5 months of weekly healings to come to terms with my past. Now, I have boundaries. I actually am not so nice. Because I do not put up with some things anymore. But, and this is the important part: I am happier. I do it as nicely as I can, because... why not? But I am also firm.

  13. Dearest Deborah,
    Well, life teaches us when enough is enough.
    After Pieter's open heart surgery in September of 2010 I have changed a lot.
    Focusing on what is really important and putting my Pieter first all others.
    Impossible to always be perfect and kind to all others. The more you do, the more they demand of you.
    It is feeling really relieving to be yourself again and you surely will blossom once you reach that.
    Sending you hugs,

  14. A great post Deborah. Saying no is something I learned a few years ago. I've learned to ask for time to consider requests - if I have to decide immediately on a commitment, then it's no. I need to consider my own strengths and schedule, as well as how the commitment would look in the long term.
    A great idea for a book, perhaps targeted at younger women who need to learn this before they turn 60!

  15. Oh my, Deborah, but yes what a great idea for a book!! I do like people to like me, but I have learned, and it's taken me awhile, to think before I say yes. It doesn't always work. I think a guideline book would be helpful...write it, please.

  16. LOVE this! YES! This is a book topic that so many of us girls can relate to. As you said, we were raised to be this way, and of course, none of us want to be rude, so we keep suppressing our creativity and feelings and just go along to get along. This is absolutely necessary in certain situations, but not always. God help us to have the discernment to distinguish between obedience and sacrifice. My family and I have been learning SO much about that lately, and it ties into what you are saying here. God does not always require the sacrifices other people demand of us, and it takes a lot of soul-searching and praying to figure out what HE requires and what others demand us to sacrifice. GREAT post! I enjoyed it so much and am so thankful I found this today. God bless you. :)

  17. I would totally read that book, Deborah. I'm also a people pleaser so I can relate. I'm always reluctant or feel embarrassed to say anything about unsatisfactory service or product. When I do speak up, I'm apologetic because I don't want to offend the other person even though it's not my fault.

    I love how we have the same Gracie China black tea sets. I think I remember seeing yours in a past post.

  18. It was the way that girls were raised once upon a time. We are learning to undo that condition that did cause a lot of unhappiness. Write the book. Do you remember a book in the 1980's that was Don't Say Yes When You Want to Say No. I forget the author.

  19. Deborah, that is a great idea for a book. I too was a people pleaser and wanted to be proper and nice and helpful to everyone. That was also the way I was raised. You get hurt a lot being that vulnerable and it's not being fair to yourself. There will always be those who will try to take advantage of you. I like what Brenda said. We need to talk to God about it. Oftentimes, especially those in ministry, folks will tell you that God said this or God said that you should do this. I learned to listen to what God said. If He didn't tell me to do it, then I graciously declined. Now, many years later, and after much disappointment and tears, I know who I am better and I know better what my calling is in life. Great post, my friend! Hugs.

  20. Yes, please. Write this book. It would help so many of us who are learning to say "No" to whatever does not fit our schedules or our needs or our time of life. If we don't learn to say "no", then our bodies will say "no" for us, and it will not be pleasant.

    In my case, my body responded with Stage 3 Cancer. Providentially, a friend recommended the book, When the Body Says No, by Dr. Gabor Mate, MD. It became pivotal for me. Saying no is costly. It has cost me friends. Saying no demands the courage to walk away from the expectations of others, the burdens, the rudeness. They do not understand, they react, they reject you. Discomfort precedes comfort.

    It is not selfish to put your own needs first if you are facing a health crisis. It is the most loving and generous thing you can do. Self-care enables you better to care for others. Now I follow the joy. I pursue freedom. I seek wisdom. I value deep peace. I design my own unique schedule which, at this season of life, is all about regaining health and strength, conserving or recovering energy, and eliminating draining situations. It is not about following any one else's agenda or timeline, no matter how well meaning they might be.

    This is such a valuable discussion and I thank you for initiating it.

    Much joy to you,
    Honey Bee


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