The photo is a repeat photo. I’ve used it before in a blog post because it fit there as well as it fits here…
I’ve been the woman in this photo. Baking treats for people I don’t even like because I just wanted to be that nice lady who is good to everyone no matter what. Also known as: a doormat.
But in my heart I often want to be Minny in the movie The Help and bake that kind of pie for another (see clip below if you have no idea what kind of pie I’m talking about).
I think of a recent airplane ride where the stranger beside me kept touching me. Not to the point where I could have filed a police report. He was touching my arm a lot with his hand as he was talking to me. I wanted to tell him to stop, but I didn’t want to be rude. So I just shoved my bag down in between us on the seat and made myself as small as possible next to the window. All that accomplished was having him tilt his head over and touch my shoulder…with the top of his head.
And, ladies and gentlemen, this is why I am nervous to fly…I often sit beside the strangest characters on airplanes. Though — on the return flight God made up for the weirdo with a lovely millennial from the West Coast. The flight went super fast as we shared thoughts on food and God and Donald Trump.
To quote a sitcom theme song from my youth: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… The facts of life.”
Back to the point. A simple definition of mental health is ‘when the inside matches the outside’. I’m learning how to let that happen. It is hard. I suffer from being too passive (and then being too aggressive when I can’t handle ‘being nice’ any longer.). I’m learning assertiveness. Healthy boundaries. Being honest in relationships (one can be nice about it, but the key is being HONEST). It was a watershed moment for me when I began to learn that being nice can actually be… mean. Particularly if you don’t actually think and feel the way you are presenting yourself. That’s lying.
The devil lies; it’s his hallmark trait.
I don’t want to be a liar. Lying to someone is the meanest thing you can do to them.
So if I’m really ‘nice’ inside; why did I have such a hard time telling a stranger, “Please stop touching me.”?? Why was I dishonest in that moment? Sigh.
During my formation years boundaries were non-existent and so I had to hide who I really was in order to avoid being abused any further. I became whomever I thought people wanted me to be.
You need to know yourself in order to be honest. It is still difficult at times to decide for myself what I really want to believe, and who I really am. I feel like a lot of people establish those basics in childhood. But until one knows ones’ self — how can you even begin to be honest with others about who you ‘really’ are???
Books like ‘No More Christian Nice Girl‘ were life changing for me (well, life changing for my mind–my actions are still in progress–those old neural networks take a while to retrain).
Yesterday, while reading some of the blogs I follow, and pondering some of the comments left on this blog, I was reminded of this statement (the title of this post) which my therapist frequently tells me: Being nice is the hardest thing to heal from.
She further explained, “I can have a volatile couple in for counseling and they will be fine. They will work out their issues because they are being forthcoming and getting it all out, albeit they might be too aggressive, at least they are getting their true thoughts and opinions in the open. When I get a couple in here where one or both spouses are being overly nice; it is very difficult. The nice spouse doesn’t understand why the other spouse has any issue, as they’ve ‘always been nice’. It can be a real problem when someone is too agreeable. If someone doesn’t share their real opinions and desires because they just want to please the other, or avoid conflict, then the burden of making all the choices falls on the other spouse, who can grow resentful. It’s a lot of work to form all the opinions and make all the choices for the other person as well as yourself.”
My BHH and I do fight openly, so I guess that means we will be ok. We can be too aggressive with one another, though. We are working on that. My passive nature extends mostly to strangers, coworkers, and friends that I haven’t let in close enough to see the real, convoluted, deeply-over-thinking, nervous, me.
As for me, I see my habit of being too nice as a combination of several things. I am still trying to figure out who I am and what I actually feel and believe (this takes a lot of alone time, for me, which I have learned to carve out and try not feel guilty about doing that). I still battle a good deal of (self-absorbed) fear (often the fear is that I will be rejected). I also tend toward resentment (aka anger — often the anger is that others don’t immediately know my heart and thoughts on a matter–and I think that stems from all the childhood rejection by my family of origin).
Curious if others have struggled with being too nice and ended up wishing they would have served Minny’s pie instead?
Have you found it annoying to be around someone who is too agreeable?
Is it just aggressive types who have anger issues? Or do you think nice, or passive, people can also suffer from anger issues?