We all have an innate need to be liked and loved. That’s just how we humans are, isn’t it?We’re also taught since childhood that if we need to be liked, we must be “nice” to others. Now, nobody defines the realms of this niceness, but we imbibe it from our environment.
It’s all great until suddenly we start realising that this niceness is acting against us as it metamorphosizes into a people pleasing behaviour to an extent that in order to just be the goody goody person, we never develop confrontational skills.
Since childhood, I was always taught to be nice. To be always smiling, to be always respectful towards the elderly and loving towards my peers and the younger ones. It was one value that I still hold very close to my heart. I’ve adopted it in my personal and professional life. I like being nice to people and it gives me joy.
But as I grew up, I started seeing how this niceness sometimes landed me into things that I did not want to do - I couldn’t say no openly, I would let go when someone was being rude to me, I’d even let some close family and friends walk all over me, just because I did not want to be disrespectful. I felt enraged but I deeply lacked confrontational skills and this really wasn’t helping my cause.
As I understood this, I started working upon it. One no at a time. One toxic relationship less at a time - and while I’ve made a huge progress in being confrontational, I admit that I still struggle with it. It has taken me time to learn to distance myself from people in a respectful way, but I must say that it has brought a huge relief in my life.
Sometimes we’re unable to stand up or speak up against the social and emotional injustice we face just because we’re conditioned to be nice. We deal with others' tantrums, let them walk all over us, let them create a discord in our lives just because we’re programmed to not to be rude.
Bringing our other cheek forward when someone slaps the first one - that’s something that I don’t believe in anymore. It doesn’t make you a hero. You may feel like you’ve done an awesome job by silently suffering the negativity, taking one for the team, to maintain peace, but in fact you’re left with just a feeling of being victimized. And if this goes on for a while, you start enjoying playing the victim card. You get a high from the fact that you were still nice to someone, even when they did nasty stuff to you. You might even believe that you’d go to heaven for this divine ability of yourself, but it would make your life a hell while you’re alive.
You might say that you can’t do much about it especially when these people are your own flesh, blood and closest circle of friends and family at times. Which is true. It mostly happens in close relationships that people feel they have a liberty to treat you however they feel like, because there’s no escape but to eventually let it go. But you have to break this chain. And it's a simple yet constant effort. You just need to take your attention off such people and their actions. You have to let go of the past gracefully, with a promise to be better to yourself. You need to confront them or simply distance yourself from their drama. Either way fix it in a way that it isn’t repeated.
Most of us are discouraged to have confrontational skills or we simply replace confrontation with rudeness. No. Confrontation isn’t rudeness - It’s a skill that takes courage - to look in the eye of the other person and ask what pleasure do they derive from such actions. But here’s a catch - this works only if the other person has that level of cognizance, maturity and acceptance, which may not always be the case. So the second best route is to take your attention off them. Don’t go seeking niceness from them. Don’t expect a truce again and again. It will never happen. Your need to be nice will take you back to them with a hope that they’d change, they won’t. So take your damn attention away. Place your well-being over your need of being nice. It’s okay to not be liked. Be respectful, but draw your line clearly. And this will take years of practice. But do it, one step a day, one strike a day.