Why I Decided to Stop Being Nice

ByLeah ✨ Community Manager /

I’m learning to stop being nice.

It sounds counterintuitive. Niceness is kindness, right? Well, no. Sometimes being kind means being honest. And niceness and honesty don’t mix very well.

In the past, I’ve always been nice first and kind later. Niceness is taught from childhood: be polite, hug this person, say goodbye, smile. If a friend is coming into town, being nice means inviting them to stay at your house even if it isn’t convenient. Kindness is different. It is not simply saying yes to appease. Sometimes kindness is not nice at all.

Have you ever said yes to something you immediately regretted? Then sat with that queasy feeling for days afterwards, wondering why you didn’t just say no? I understand. It’s hard to say no! Luckily, saying no is a challenge that gets easier.

Kindness means having the option to say “no,” respecting your boundaries and thinking about what is best for everyone – including you.

What are boundaries?

Learning how to set boundaries is a part of learning how to be kind. When we think of kindness, we often think about going out of our way to be accomodating or helpful to others. However, being kind to ourselves is just as important. Setting boundaries, taking time for self-care, and holding strong to our sense of self are also part of being kind.

Here’s an example from my own life:

Friend: “Hey Leah, let’s go for coffee soon!”

Nice Leah: “Sure! Anytime!”

In this instance, I will never get back to my friend. They may text or call me to set up a date to have coffee and I will screen their calls or avoid their texts. I will put them off with flimsy excuses. This isn’t kindness. It isn’t even nice!

Friend: “Hey Leah, let’s go for coffee soon!”

Kind Leah: “Thanks for the offer, but I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. Going out for coffee isn’t going to work for me.”

When I choose kindness over niceness, I am actually nicer. It seems backwards! But kindness is about respect. And respecting my own boundaries is important.

Kindness is a conversation, an opportunity to discuss. Kindness is like offering your seat to someone, but not forcing them to sit.

Respecting other people’s boundaries

Another interesting thing about kindness: it means respecting other people’s boundaries! If someone sets a boundary with you, it’s important to respect them and their boundary. For example, if a friend says, “I don’t feel like going out tonight. Do you think we could reschedule for next month?” Being kind means being understanding. You could say something like, “I completely understand. Let me know when you want to try again.” That way, you let your friend know that it is okay to set boundaries with you. This type of response shows that you will respect their boundaries without a guilt trip, overwhelming insistence, or a petty fight. It lets them know that you respect them and care about them.

Of course, all of these examples are just that, examples. As with any information from the internet, take this advice with a grain of salt. If your friend is constantly blowing you off or bailing on plans, it may be worth having a conversation with them about it instead of letting them off the hook.

In conclusion, being kind means being honest with yourself and with others and letting others be honest with you. If you want to stop being nice and start cultivating kindness, here are some resources to get you started!

Resources:

How to set boundaries. This guide from Mark Manson (fantastic author of self-help books that don’t suck) explains why boundaries are the key to good relationships. My favourite thing about this guide is that it explains how to make a boundary and Chapter 5 even gives examples of what healthy boundaries look like.

–  How to say no in a kind way. This article from the Greater Good Magazine is amazing and timeless. It offers 21 ways to “give good no,” how to say no in the right way for any occasion.

How to practice self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff is a self-compassion expert. Her self-compassion exercises are helpful and easy enough to do whenever you need to take a break from negative self-talk. Being kind to ourselves is hard but Dr. Kristin Neff can help make it easier!

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