Stop Being A Nice- A- Holic!
Fairlady|April 2017

Are you saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, avoiding confrontation and putting the needs of others above your own? Being a chronic people-pleaser could be affecting your mental and physical wellbeing – it’s time to quit.

Liesl Robertson

Ever been told you’re ‘so nice’? It’s a compliment, right? Well, yes – as long as you’re not too nice. Agreeableness itself isn’t the problem, says Renée Tobin, a psychology professor at Illinois State University. People who get along with others tend to do well in life. But when you sacrifice your happiness to keep others happy, it can become a problem. ‘Trouble can arise if niceness is driven by insecurity, or if people suppress their negative emotions, which can manifest itself as ill health,’ she says.

Being a nice-a-holic is something women in particular struggle with. ‘We’re socialised to feel responsible for the feelings and wellbeing of those around us,’ says Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker and author of The Assertiveness Guide for Women.

‘It’s all about fear, really,’ says Dr Mark Hyman, founder and medical director of the Ultra Wellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, and a self-confessed nice-a-holic (and proof that it’s not an inherently female problem). ‘Being nice and saying “yes” when I mean “no”, or not telling people when I’m disappointed, or not holding them accountable for things they agreed to, at work or in my personal life, causes me all sorts of problems. First, it makes me unhappy, sleep poorly, angry and irritated, and the stress it causes me makes me feel tired and icky…When I’m not honest, I create a war within myself and create conflict around me.  I deprive myself, and everyone around me, of authentic, profound relationships.’

Consider this all-too-common example: Mark assigns a task to someone on his team. They execute it, but not to his standards. But instead of handing the assignment back, pointing out why it doesn’t live up to his expectations and asking them to redo it, he takes the nice-a-holic route. ‘I don’t say anything, am nice to them, end up doing it myself and “being a hero”, then resent them and feel frustrated and mad – and complain.

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