The “Dark Side” of Being “Too Nice”


Until now my focus was on the many ways that prevailing cultural beliefs have conspired consciously and unconsciously to keep females “in their place” which often amounts to following in the shadow of males, causing a pervasive feeling of being second tier. Not side by side in an egalitarian manner. Juggling to feel equal and worthy leaves females in a place of feeling “not enough,” which in turn damages beliefs in our worthiness, lovability, and power to be seen and to be counted.

The damage to our sense of self happened in a multitude of ways, often before we could question or understand the sly ways faulty beliefs were formed.

The previous Blogs laid a foundation for today’s blog to build on or more pointedly identify how self-love became compromised. To fully understand the importance of preparation for change… see previous Blogs at

A question I’d like you to examine…
Are you a Woman who uses “Niceness” to keep the peace?

It starts early; females are pressured to “be nice, don’t be angry, that’s not nice,” The message is loud and clear; “stifle”, especially negative or angry feelings. Fit in and do not make us uncomfortable. When a female takes a stand for her point of view, she is often considered too independent or aggressive which equates to “not nice”.

Are you too nice for your own good?

What is your life story?

Were you pressured to be nice from an early age? It doesn’t matter if it was in your best interest or not. We are made to feel bad if we are labeled as “not nice”.

A client remembered when as a child of about 7, her mother slapped her for not being nice enough to a crotchety old neighbor. She was afraid of the neighbor, but her mother wouldn’t listen. Mother was invested in being nice at the expense of her daughter’s feelings…

You’ve no doubt heard, “She’s such a nice person”. When I meet a client invested in being “really nice” I know my work will be harder. This person is likely to be in denial and a people pleaser with no idea that she is betraying herself.

There is a price for being “too nice”.

It is a weakness that strips away personal power. “Really nice” usually covers up feelings of inadequacy and often a desperate need to seek the approval of others.

If you have not taken the time to unravel the many deceptive layers of niceness, it is sometimes rather an inverted pride, of being more virtuous than people who dare to say “no”.

Sometimes it is our way of hiding fears because we do not have the courage to risk that others may not like us if we don’t do more than everybody else.

Often, I meet people, mostly women, who have an ingrained pattern of doing too much and at the same time are resentful, blaming others for taking advantage of them or manipulating them. They have trouble accepting responsibility for the fact that they, in their own way, have trained others to do just that. They end up with the added problem of not trusting or liking others and the faulty belief becomes truly a burden.

This approval-seeking behavior makes nice and needy people the target of possible manipulation or victimization by others. Because of suppression and denial of anger, others are frustrated finding them less than authentic.

When one cannot be authentic in relationships, problems ensue. Also when there is an unequalness in the give and take of friendships and romantic relationships a feeling of unease develops and often the relationship breaks down for that very reason.

When confrontation is unavoidable, “really nice” people are more apt to acquiesce without resolution to placate the other person. They can’t bear to have anyone upset with them. “Niceness” squeezes the passion out of living leaving a limited way of expressing power, thus potential.

So! What is your path out of this dilemma?

No one is asking you not to care for others. However, there is a way to care for others and to also stop betraying yourself.

Give up the “niceness” to be kind.


There is power in kindness.

Kind people have a fairly high level of self-esteem and are able to love themselves. It is only when we truly love ourselves that we can love others. Kind people know that they count and because of that they expect to be treated with respect. Kindness emerges from someone who’s confident, compassionate, and comfortable with themselves, therefore, they are able to hold that space for others.

A kind person can say “no” when they choose, without giving reasons or excuses. Therefore, the kind person really means yes when they say yes!

A kind person gives out of the goodness of their heart without guilt-provoking expectations.

Kindness is also being warm and inclusive without diminishing self. “Niceness” is a problem. Do you betray yourself by saying yes when you’d rather not? If you say no is it weighted with excuses or reasons, not clean and clear? If we do not value ourselves, we do not value what we have to offer. If we manipulate or allow ourselves to be manipulated in order to please others, we become weakened or disempowered.

Being too nice not only breeds resentment but is frequently the root of depression or apathy.

To be nice and fit in according to family expectations, children sometimes sneak their true passions. This is true if their creativity is not supported. Women have told me that as children, they had to sneak time for reading, art, or other creative ventures of play. The family motto was, in this family “we don’t have time for such nonsense”, or we will have time to play when everything else is done. When? Sadly, that pattern of sneaking continues into adulthood for women who do not value time for themselves. Women say, “I should be happy with all that I have, but I’m not.” “Who am I to want more” … when so many have so little.

Reminds me of the beggar in Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire: “you must not ask for so much.”

What Price do you Pay to be Nice, to Fit In?


The fable called “Procrustes Bed” is about an innkeeper who adjusted the travelers who stopped for the night to fit his beds. If they were too short, he stretched them until they fit, however, if they were too tall, he chopped off their feet off. Incredibly brutal right? Who or what in your life is assaulting your spirit? Are you doing it to yourself, trying to fit in? In what area of your life are you sleeping in Procrustes’ Bed?

Even though you know deep in your bones what you are doing cannot bring you happiness it is hard to admit that the life you are living is really a lie. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by anxiety, self-doubt, and feelings of instability.
If you stop, pause and review your life, the pause will help you to create a safe container to hold challenging emotions while you gather courage, skills to increase your self-compassion and self-love. Decide to leave that “too nice” person behind and to embrace a kinder you. Want to see your struggles recede in the rear-view mirror?

There is a solution:

It is not your fault that you were conditioned to think less of yourself and bury parts of yourself that you need to have a full abundant life. Begin a new Story by deciding to stop putting everybody else first.

This is not about blaming others it is about choosing more for yourself, now, because you can.

A lack of knowing who you are and how to value yourself is at the core of your struggles. Turn what you thought was fixed upside down and inside out. When you become acquainted with what is hidden that trips you and what to do about It, things will be different. You will become vibrant, filled with personal power, light and passion and you will know without a doubt that you are enough, and you are loveable.

“It takes courage to do what
you want. Other people have
lots of plans for you. (Joseph Campbell)

Time to Pause and Reflect:
Write your story about being “nice”!
Follow the guidance given:
After Reflection and Journaling, write a new story…


Hope to meet with you further down the road.

Blessings, Laura 

Laura B Young

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