I'm Too Nice & That Can Be A Problem. Here's How I'm Being More Authentic

I confess: I'm a "nice-a-holic," even if that means forfeiting honesty. So this year I resolved to have my mouth and heart say the same thing. My hope is that combining truthfulness, kindness and integrity will inspire others to overcome their fears and become their most authentic selves.

Fear becomes the focal point of this fictitious niceness. When I say "yes" yet mean "no," keep my mouth shut when I feel disappointed, or not hold people accountable for things they agreed to do, it makes me unhappy. I sleep poorly. I feel irritated or angry. That creates stress, which makes me feel tired and icky, creating more complications.

Here's a familiar scenario: I ask someone on my team to do something. I might not be clear, or I might ask the wrong person to do it. Regardless, what they give back becomes insufficient.

Now, I could say, "Hey, this is a good start, but I really need it to be like this and go work on it until it is right." But I don't say anything, am nice to them, mumble under my breath, end up doing it myself, becoming a "hero" in my mind. Then I harbor resentment toward them and feel dissatisfied with my own actions.

This scenario undermines what I really want. It also doesn't give people a chance to give their best self or deal with the consequences of their not being right for the job.

I also do this with my family. My son recently moved home. Because I didn't give him a budget, I learned he was spending more than he really should.

You guessed it: I didn't say or do anything.

I felt remorse he had lost his job. I didn't want to create conflict or make him feel bad. Yet my reticence robbed us of an honest relationship. It dissolved his ability to show up differently and do the right thing.

The truth is, I will almost always be "nice" rather than tell the truth, at least until I'm ready to explode. Then I'm not as nice.

Being "nice" when you feel unhappy, disappointed, or need to express what you need ultimately becomes a form of lying. Yet I do it, and so do many people around me.

This artificial niceness is actually a form of manipulation. I'm trying to manage someone else's response to my words or behavior, rather than simply saying it like it is and dealing maturely with the fallout.

I work as hard as I can to make things correct, even if they aren't. I end up being unhappy, frustrated, and the other person doesn't get that chance to display their best self.

This is the hardest thing for me to change, so I asked for help. I found a life coach who holds me accountable, and shows me where I lie or don't tell the whole truth.

My life coach helps me with my goals and dreams, but she also remains thoroughly committed to helping me have integrity and be truthful with others and myself.

Sometimes she helps me practice conversations so I can conduct them without blame or judgment. I can then show up with an authentic kindness, as opposed to an artificial kindness to "keep the peace" yet simultaneously create a war inside myself.

When I tell the truth, those in my life know where I stand and how I feel. We can have an authentic, more profound relationship. Ironically, that's what I tried to create in the first place, but with exactly the opposite (read: wrong) strategy.

My life is great, but I want it to be greater. I want to live and communicate authentically so my heart and my mouth always say the same thing.

My coach provides the right wake-up call for my patterns and the right assignments to help me to see my way out. She checks in regularly and holds me accountable.

Self-change becomes incredibly challenging. I couldn't do it on my own.

Have you ever visited a coach or therapist to help you work through a life issue? Share how he or she impacted you below or on my Facebook fan page.

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Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to...
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