You probably were told to be nice. Most of us were. We were told to be nice by our parents, teachers, bosses, significant others. Strangers have told us to smile. Women especially get pressured to be nice, but men also learn how to be people-pleasers. Kindness to self and others, cordiality, compassion, refinement — these are emotional attributes worth cultivating. But, they are different from being “nice”.
“Nice” can mean being inoffensive — to anyone. “Nice” can mean people-pleasing and acquiescing. “Nice” can also mean being non-confrontational (even when you should be). The following are criteria (based on the Kabbalistic system of self-refinement detailed in Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer) that can help you identify if you are being “too nice” in an unhealthy way:
- You give way more kindness and love than you receive.
- You’re nice on other people’s terms, not on your own terms. You heed to unreasonable and unhealthy demands in the name of “being nice.”
- You often feel hurt because you are so nice and people are not nice in return.
- You are super nice, but not when you are tired, hungry, lonely, bored, angry, or sad. If your mood is low, it’s hard for you to be as nice as you think you should be.
- You pride yourself on how nice you are. You’ll do anything to avoid being told that you’re not nice.
- Your niceness is one-sided and very lonely. You rarely feel a sense of togetherness with others even though you are “sweet”.
- You get demeaned or hurt because you are so nice. Being afraid to offend, coupled with the desire to be perceived as nice, has led you into dangerous situations, physically or emotionally.
What can you do if you’re too nice? Certainly being mean is not the answer. Instead, recognizing that being too nice is an opportunity to journey into your psyche and soul. There is a 49-step journey that you can take to probe and evaluate your emotional health. The journey involves short daily meditations and exercises. It will take you to a new level of introspection and behavioral change. Sounds good? Start your journey to true freedom.