I used to be a pleasant person. I would always prioritize others and do everything in my power to please those around me. I volunteered to do the majority of the work for projects at my workplace. If my requests caused any inconvenience to anyone else, I backed down. And all of my spare time was spent giving, giving, giving.
However, the end result was not what I had hoped for. I was tired and moody because I wasn't taking care of myself physically. People began to expect me to do everything for them as I volunteered to do more and more. I became resentful as my dreams were pushed to the sidelines, and I craved the attention and validation that I couldn't give myself.
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We all want to be selfless, but by ignoring our own needs, we limit our ability to be so. According to the author of the article “How Selflessness Makes Us Selfish,” published on the Counseling Blog, when we do not meet our own needs, we begin to seek them from external sources, resulting in behavior that appears selfish. We need to be a little LESS “nice” if we want to be more kind and giving.
Here are some of the negative consequences of being too nice:
1. People will expect you to give all the time if you are always giving
According to the author of the article “5 Ways Being Too Nice Can Become Negative,” published on The Power of Positivity, if you don't set boundaries, you will be viewed as a doormat and taken advantage of. Valuing yourself, ensuring your needs are met, and setting limits does not imply that you lack sympathy for those around you. It simply means that your requirements are important as well.
I reasoned that if I gave everything I had, people would like me more and regard me as more valuable. People, on the other hand, seemed to like it less. Those around us will value us in the same way that we value ourselves. People began to notice and appreciate my contributions as I began to set limits and ask for help when I needed it.
2. You will form irrational expectations of others
When you are overly nice to others, you create unrealistic expectations for them to do the same, according to the Power of Positivity. When they fail to meet your expectations, you may become enraged and resentful.
This is something I've noticed in my own life. I would go above and beyond for any of my friends, and it bothered me when they refused to do the same for me. What I didn't realize was that they were taking care of their own needs, and it was up to me to do the same for myself.
3. People will only come to you if they are in need of something
According to The Power of Positivity, if you are too nice to people, they will only see you as a means to an end. People will only come to you if they believe you can help them, because they only see you as a tool to help them achieve their goals. If you do not set boundaries to stop this pattern as soon as it begins, it can spiral out of control.
This pattern began to emerge in my own life, and it quickly became overwhelming. It was critical to be able to gently say “no” without providing too many reasons or arguing the point. At times, I would offer to assist the person in organizing themselves so that they could assist themselves, or I would refer them to other people and resources.
4. You will forget to be gentle with yourself
When you are busy taking care of everyone else, you will forget to be kind to yourself, according to the Power of Positivity. This can result in your basic needs not being met, which can lead to depression and burnout.
My over-giving diverted my attention away from the sources of my own pain and suffering. I was looking for validation from outside sources, and I didn't believe I had any worth apart from what other people thought of me. When I stopped giving so much, I was able to spend some time looking within and learning to rely on myself for validation. In the end, this enabled me to be more compassionate and understanding.
5. You will be perceived as weak
According to Jessica Stillman's article “5 Ways Being Too Nice Can Hurt You,” published on Inc, being too nice can cause others to perceive you as weak. Not only can this lead to others taking advantage of you, but it can also lead to people not viewing you as a strong leader or authority figure.
People did not give me credit for my accomplishments at work when I gave too much and did not set enough boundaries. They didn't notice everything I did because I didn't value myself.
6. You will attract people in need
According to Stillman, being too nice attracts people who are needy and manipulative. Because you haven't set boundaries with them, these people see an opportunity to take advantage of you.
This is something I've noticed in my own life. I'd spend hours on Facebook “supporting” friends, to the point where I wasn't getting enough sleep. I learned that it is okay to be a good friend and to be available for people, but it is also okay to let them know that I will only be available for a limited time on certain days.
7. No one will believe you
Stillman claims that because so few people are truly nice, being overly nice will make people wonder if you have a hidden agenda. You will most likely be met with distrust, which will make it difficult to form relationships.
I discovered that until I learned to set boundaries, I was never truly accepted into the group, both at work and in my social interactions. When I started setting limits and demonstrating that I valued myself more, other people began to do the same.
8. You may become destitute
When you are not meeting your own needs, you will subconsciously seek to meet those needs elsewhere, according to the Counseling Blog. This can lead to clingy, needy behavior in relationships, as well as an insatiable need for validation.
Surprisingly, I discovered that I engaged in both of these behaviors prior to learning to advocate for myself. I was always giving, rather than meeting my own validation needs, so I was constantly seeking it from those around me. My clingy behavior stopped when I learned to value myself.
9. Your proclivity to engage in addictive behaviors increases
According to the Counseling Blog, when you are unable to see your own worth within yourself, you are more likely to engage in addiction-type behaviors to cope with stress. When you are constantly giving, you may seek relief by overspending, overeating, or engaging in other similar behaviors.
I discovered that I was engaging in many of these behaviors. When I felt overwhelmed by obligations for which I received no credit, I was always overspending and overindulging in junk food. My addictions faded as I learned to value myself.
While it is wonderful to be nice, giving too much and failing to set boundaries will limit–rather than increase–your ability to be kind to those around you. Value yourself first, and you'll start to value everyone else.
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