I used to be a nice person. I would always put others before myself, and do everything in my power to appease those around me. I volunteered to do the bulk of the work for projects at my job. I backed down from my requests if they inconvenienced anyone else. And my free time was spent giving, giving and giving.
The end result, however, was not what I had hoped it would be. I felt tired and moody, because I was not caring for myself physically. As I volunteered to do more and more, people began to expect that I would do everything for them. I became resentful as my dreams were put on the back burner, and I desperately craved the attention and validation that I was not able to give myself.
We all want to be selfless, but in neglecting our own needs, we diminish our ability to do so. In the article, “How Selflessness Makes Us Selfish,” published on the Counseling Blog, the author states that when we do not meet our own needs, we begin to seek them from external sources, resulting in behavior that looks selfish. If we want to be more kind and giving, we actually need to be a little LESS “nice.”
Here are some bad things that happen when you are too nice:
1. If you are always giving, people will expect that of you.
In the article, “5 Ways Being Too Nice Can Become Negative,” published on The Power of Positivity, the author states that if you don’t set boundaries, you will be viewed as a doormat and taken advantage of. Valuing yourself, making sure your needs are met, and establishing limits does not mean that you do not have sympathy for those around you. It just means that your needs are important as well.
I thought that people would like me better and see me as more valuable if I gave as much as I could. Instead, I found that people appreciated it less. Those around us will value us as much as we value ourselves. As I began to set limits and ask for help when I needed it, people began to notice and appreciate my contributions.
2. You will develop unrealistic expectations of others.
According to the Power of Positivity, when you are being too nice to others, you develop unrealistic expectations for them to do the same. When they do not meet these expectations, you may become angry and resentful.
I have noticed this in my own life. I would go above and beyond for any of my friends, and I took it personally when they were not willing to do the same for me. What I did not understand was that they were taking care of their own needs, and that it was my responsibility to do the same for myself.
3. People will come to you only when they need something.
The Power of Positivity states that when you are too nice to people, they will only see you as a means to an end. People will only come to you when they think you can help them out, because they are seeing you only as a tool to help them meet their goals. This pattern can spiral out of control if you do not set boundaries to nip it as soon as it starts.
I saw this pattern starting in my own life, and it quickly became overwhelming. Being able to gently say “no,” without providing too many reasons or arguing it, was key. At times, I would offer to help the person get themself organized so that they could help themself, or I would refer them to other people and resources.
4. You will forget about being kind to yourself.
According to the Power of Positivity, when you are busy taking care of everyone else, you will forget to be kind to yourself. This can lead to your basic needs not being met, and spiral into depression and burn-out.
I found that my over-giving distracted me from the sources of pain and suffering that were within myself. I was seeking validation externally, and I did not believe that I had any value outside of other people’s opinions of me. When I backed off on the constant giving, I was able to spend some time looking within and learning to rely on myself for validation. In the end, this allowed me to be more kind and understanding.
5. You will be seen as being weak.
In the article “5 Ways Being Too Nice Can Hurt You,” written by Jessica Stillman and published on Inc, Stillman reports that being too nice can lead other people to see you as being weak. Not only can this result in other people taking advantage of you, but it can also lead people to not see you as a strong leader or authority.
In my job, I found that when I gave too much and didn’t establish enough boundaries, people did not give me credit for my accomplishments. Because I did not value myself, they did not notice all that I had done.
6. You will attract needy people.
According to Stillman, when you are too nice you will attract people who are needy and manipulative. These people see an opportunity to take advantage of you, because you have not established boundaries with them.
I noticed this in my own life. I would spend hours “supporting” friends on Facebook, to the point where I was not getting enough sleep. I learned that it is okay to be a good friend and to be there for people, but it is also okay to let them know that I will only be available for a short amount of time on certain days.
7. People will not trust you.
Stillman states that because so few people are truly nice, when you are too nice, people will wonder if you have an ulterior motive. You are likely to be met with mistrust, which will lead to difficulties in establishing relationships.
I found that before I learned to establish boundaries, I was never truly accepted into the group, both at work at in my social interactions. When I began to set limits and show that I valued myself more, other people began to do the same.
8. You may become needy.
According to the Counseling Blog, when you are not meeting your own needs, you will subconsciously seek to get those needs met in other places. This can result in clingy, needy behavior in relationships, as well as constantly seeking validation.
I found that, surprisingly, I engaged in both of these behaviors before I learned to stand up for myself. I was always giving, rather than meeting my own needs for validation, so I constantly sought it from those around me. When I learned to value myself, my clingy behavior stopped.
9. You become more likely to engage in addictive behaviors.
The Counseling Blog states that when you are not able to see your own value within yourself, you are more likely to engage in addiction-type behaviors in order to deal with stress. When you are constantly over-giving, you may seek escape by overspending, overeating, or other similar behaviors.
I found that I engaged in a lot of these behaviors. I was always spending too much money and indulging in junk food, when I felt overwhelmed by obligations for which I received no credit. When I began to value myself, my addictions lessened.
While it is great to be nice, giving too much and not establishing boundaries will limit–not increase–your ability to be kind to those around you. Value yourself first, and you will begin to value everyone else around you.
Featured photo credit: Young woman in the field via shutterstock.com