The Ten Signs That You're Too Nice

Why being agreeable may disagree wIth you.

Posted Sep 06, 2018

If you're too nice, you may not identify with all of the items below, but at least three of these statements will ring true:

  1. You end up doing things you don’t want to.
  2. When people want something, they come to you.
  3. You always put others before yourself.
  4. You tend to agree with people; you’re compliant.
  5. You find yourself adopting other people’s styles, clothes, language.
  6. You really want to fit in and for people to like you.
  7. People are not that interested in what you want.
  8. You dislike letting people down.
  9. You rarely voice your own ideas or opinions.
  10. You often feel directionless, disappointed or resentful.

So how did this happen and what can you do about it? 

The most likely answer is that somewhere along the line you have needed to fit in for your own self-preservation. This part of ourselves is called the Adapted Child – we adapt to get our needs fulfilled. Unfortunately, if this is a family dynamic, then it becomes a habit and our way of interacting with the world. This is not very rewarding for us and often means we do not show our authentic selves for fear of rejection.

There is nothing wrong with being nice but it needs to be on your own terms. Sometimes we practice self-sacrifice for our families or children or because we want to repay a favor. This is fine. However, when this becomes habitual and we subsume our own needs, this becomes unhealthy and can cause unhappiness, anxietydepression, and/or resentment.

Some of the problem may be that you have never really voiced what it is you do want. You may be in the habit of going along with other people or being “agreeable” to the point where people do not actually know what you think or what you want.

You need to start asking of situations “How does this work for me?” If you find it doesn’t work for you, then you need to speak up for yourself and explain why. This may be difficult if you haven’t done this before. If you have developed a “Please Others” driver, then you will feel very uncomfortable voicing your opinions and needs. “Please Others” will have been developed over a lifetime of adapting, so be gentle as you unpick this unhelpful behavior.

Practice is the key. Start small with family or friends where the chance of rejection is small and low risk. Ask for something you want and expect to get it; our expectations often dictate how we are treated. You need to be thinking, if the other person does not consider my needs and wants, do I really want to be in a relationship with them?

You need to start to think about what pleases you as well as those around you. When you feel braver, you sometimes need to ask others to fit around you or to accommodate what you want. This is not an easy task but it is important for your health and well-being.

We know from old studies that although being the boss can be stressful, it is the people in more subservient positions who suffer. A measure of control and self-direction is important for all of us. It is part of our self-esteem and identity to have likes and dislikes, wants and needs. If you really don’t know what you want — like the bride in Runaway Bride who always has her eggs the same way as the person she is currently engaged to or, indeed, the person who says they “don’t mind” when you offer “Tea or coffee?” then you need to try things out and decide for yourself. Once you know what you like and want, asking for it becomes easier.

So, by all means, be nice, but at your convenience. It is not good for us when we leave our own desires and needs unmet. There should be no need to distort who we are and what we want as adults. The world requires some give and take from all of us, but in order to thrive, we need to find out who we are and then fulfill ourselves as that person. This takes time and care but it can be enjoyable trying out new things and situations and working out what you believe in and what you don’t. If you didn’t get this opportunity as a child, take the chance now and start developing yourself until you can flourish as an independent adult who knows what they want and feels that, at least some of the time, they can ask for it.