By Jessica Glynn, LMSW
Anxiety can sometimes stop us from being the person we truly want to be. The overestimation of our shortcomings and the minimization of our positive attributes can cause insecurities, and ultimately create anxiety in a number of different situations. While you may be unkind to yourself, are you also being "too nice" to others?
In social situations, we may think too much about what we say and how the other person will receive it. Often, after we say something, we become our own worst critic. We may worry that we have offended the other person, challenge what we said as unintelligent, or fear that we didn’t have enough to say and will be considered boring. Or maybe we wonder if we said too much and the other person thinks we are weird or awkward. The rumination and questioning can go on and on, and ultimately can lead to us holding back in future interactions and not say as much as we may have wanted or intended to. As a result, others have the opportunity to overpower us or place us where we may not necessarily want to be. For example, do you conform to others' ideas or let others inconvenience you because being considerate of the other person seems more important than considering yourself? Are you being too nice because you fear that others may not like you if you said "no," or gave an honest opinion? These anxieties can create a "niceness syndrome" where we compromise our own feelings to please others.
Here are some questions to consider if you think your anxiety is causing you to be "too nice:"
What do I want?
In the particular situation you are considering, recognize what it is that you really want. Will saying "yes" to a friend or family member only to dread the task or outcome lead to increased anxiety and resentment? Maybe saying "no" will feel empowering and you might not end up somewhere or with something you really don't like.
What is it that I would like to say?
Finding your voice and being heard is important for getting what you want and need. If you need something from another person, it is important to be able to let them know. Whether it is a stranger standing too close to you, or a co-worker picking up some slack so you don’t have to work late, if you don't say something, it is likely the situation will not change.
Is this inconveniencing me for the benefit of someone else?
If you find that others are being inconsiderate of you, but you avoid saying something because of potential conflict or disapproval, you will probably end up being inconvenienced in some way.
Would the other person think twice before saying this to me?
Sometimes we do not express how we honestly feel because we fear that others will receive it the wrong way or be offended. However, if you think about what others have said to you in the past, you may recognize that you are able to say more than you think.
It is important to remember to be in tune with your own needs and wants so that they do not get lost in trying to please others. Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you are selfish. It means you are being self-aware and recognize that you need care and kindness too.
Jessica Glynn, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in creating and maintaining boundaries, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.