Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

A desire to be nice drives many of us to be people pleasers. It can be hard to know where true nice ends and being a DoorMat begins. Many people have great misconceptions of what nice behavior is or they call themselves nice for the wrong reasons. The people pleasing kind of “nice” behavior often makes you unhappy, angry or frustrated when people aren’t “nice” back. When I was a DoorMat, I made everyone more important than me. Looking back, I was rarely happy inside. I took crumbs people threw at me instead of getting what I really wanted.

Lately “nice” has taken on a bad connotation in general. People equate it with being seen as weak and unattractive. Those who consider themselves “nice” may feel used, taken for granted or unappreciated. And many believe that nice guys finish last. That’s not true! When I recognized the true meaning of nice, I got a lot more and my happiness blossomed. I want to clear up 10 common erroneous beliefs about what nice is and isn’t so that more nice people can finish first. Then you can redefine “nice” in a way that empowers you. Here are 10 common beliefs about being nice that just aren’t true:

Nice means helping everyone and being agreeable all the time, whether you want to or not. Wrong! Nice does NOT mean doing favors indiscriminately or always being agreeable. There’s a big difference between being a nice person and being a people pleaser. True nice means considerate, respectful, and helping others selectively when it doesn’t hurt or inconvenience you badly. People pleasers try too hard to please, putting everyone before their own well-being or needs. You can be kind and friendly without giving yourself away to everyone who wants something.

It’s not nice to say “no.” Wrong! What’s not nice is to say “no” to what you want in order to say “yes” to others. It’s nice to do favors when you can, not at the expense of your own needs or sacrificing yourself for the sake of everyone. Empowered nice people understand that saying “no” to what you don’t want to do says “yes” to your preferences. And you have a right to that!

It’s nice to go along with what others want. Wrong! It’s not nice to put what you want to do on the back burner to please others. I used to cancel plans to accommodate others and tried to ignore that nobody did that for me. Good relationships are built on compromising so everyone has their way sometimes. Empowered nice people make their desires known and expect to get them met at least sometimes. It’s nice to have an equal say in what restaurant or movie to go to or other decisions that affect you.

Nice people should always do what they can to please everyone. Wrong! Hello! That’s not nice! It’s buying friends with favors. It’s not nice when giving is a one-way street and you’re going the wrong way. Empowered nice people help and do favors on an individual basis, depending on what works for you and who the person is. Pleasing people should feel good, not make you feel used or taken for granted. The more you nourish yourself, the more energy you have to give to others.

God wants me to be as nice as possible to everyone. Yes but….. I have a strong spiritual core and believed God wanted me to please everyone. But, I left out the most important person—me! I believe that when you try to be good to everyone, YOU should be included. We often forget ourselves and neglect our needs in pursuit of pleasing others. Spiritual doesn’t mean sacrificing for anyone who wants something while leaving yourself out. God wants you to be good to YOU too!. Find a balance between giving to others and getting your needs met too. Now that I’m no longer a DoorMat, I love to help when possible to be kind, not to score points or have it returned. But I’m nice to me too!

It’s important to be liked by everyone. Wrong! There’s nothing nice about you being unhappy, no matter how many are happy as a result of your sacrifice. It’s impossible to make everyone like you. And buying people with favors doesn’t mean they like you. They may just like the perks of keeping you around. Empowered nice people know when you’re kind but set boundaries on what you can do, you find out who likes you for you. Those people are the keepers.

It’s nice to be modest. Wrong! It’s not nice to belittle yourself or negate compliments or avoid sharing what you’re proud of to build others up. Owning your accomplishments increases self-esteem. That doesn’t mean overtly bragging, which does get annoying. Many of us were taught to downplay our victories and shrug off compliments instead of acknowledging them. Empowered nice people know that when you just say “thank you” and nothing more when receiving praise and express pride about your successes and wonderful qualities, confidence increases.

It’s nicer to keep the peace than to risk an argument. Wrong! Keeping quiet about things that bother you is not nice because it can stir up anger, frustration and other negative emotions that hurt you. Silence tells people that what they’re doing is okay, when it’s not. Empowered nice people know you should and can be heard by speaking your mind in a considerate, friendly and straightforward manner. If you keep your emotions in check and gently explain how you feel, it shouldn’t erupt into an argument.

Nice people get passed over for romance. Wrong! People pleasers turn people off. Nice people with confidence don’t. People often try to please because they don’t feel good about themselves. Self-proclaimed “nice guys” say they go out of their way to be nice and it doesn’t work. That says you don’t feel good about yourself and screams insecurity. Being with someone who’s bending over backwards to please creates pressure to reciprocate. You’ll come across as attractive if you live up to the true definition of nice. Don’t try so hard to please. Be courteous and confident and you’ll learn that true nice can be attractive!

Nice people finish last. Wrong! People pleasers who think they’re nice get upset when they feel they don’t get back for all they give and believe they must do a 180 and become tough and aggressive in order to succeed. Empowered nice people know that people pleasing is not nice and you should give when you want to, not because it’s expected or you want something in return. When you’re courteous, respectful, confident and set boundaries for how much you can give, you can be a nice person who finishes first.

Let go of those erroneous myths about what nice behavior is and do your best to be considerate, friendly, respectful and giving with boundaries. That helps you become an empowered nice person. People will both like you and take you seriously. That allows you to be the best person you can be! And it allows you to be happier because you’ll like the person you are and people will respect you more.

Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2012 HERE.

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