Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Nice

It seems like everything in life has a positive and a negative aspect. Food, for example, we need it to live, it gives us pleasure, but if it’s not managed, too much or the wrong kinds of foods can make us fat, and ultimately sick. Shopping, it’s fun and makes you (or me) happy, but too much can ruin your finances, and destroy relationships. Even religion, it’s necessary to believe in something bigger than yourself, it gives you a reason to be, it makes you better than you are, but being fanatically religious can be very dangerous, and it turns into something that is really not what God intended. So, really, anything can be good or bad, depending on the extent to which we take it.

I have always thought of myself as a nice person. I try to help people, I think of others before me, making sure they are comfortable before I can be comfortable. I organize family events, I picked careers that focused on helping others, and I did what I was supposed to do most of the time. But, I realize that if you are too nice, it can hurt you.

How has it hurt me? Well, in my previous marriages, I did everything for them, to make sure things went smoothly, to make their life better, to make them love me, and all it got me was a lot of responsibility, and worry, but no real partnership or love. With my son, I did too much for him all his life and cheated him out of learning from his experiences, which probably would have helped him and made it easier for him to deal with his real life now. With my business, I thought if I was nice enough, and helped people enough, they would keep coming in to my business, and I would make a living. (Learning that "business is just business" cost me a lot when I closed mine a year ago.)

I can see all the ways being too nice has hurt me, but the fact is, that is just who I am. Instead of trying to be someone I am not, I have had to learn to stand up for myself, or just stand my ground. That is hard for me to do unless I have time to think about a situation before I react. Over the years, I have learned that just deciding on boundaries ahead of time, and holding myself to them works for me.

I have also learned that there is nothing wrong with being nice, as long as you stick to your boundaries. I get a lot of pleasure from doing nice things for someone, being nice to people who wait on me, or going out of my way for my family or friends. It makes me feel good about myself. But, I won’t let myself get taken advantage of any more, and one of my new boundaries is; “Don’t let other peoples problems become your own, let them deal with it themselves.”

1 comment:

  1. Julie, you are a lovely woman and have been "nice" for as long as I have known you. I agree that you should not change that, and you are right, you cannot afford to be taken advantage of. Don't be a doormat.

    I'm in a position (as a pastor's wife) where it's very important to be nice to people because it reflects on my husband and his ability to perform his duties. However, I had to learn early on where my boundries were and when to say "NO." That was the hard part, and some people try to manipulate you to change your answer. Holding to your bounderies will help you define yourself as a person and you will be stronger for it in the end.