For most of my life I have held a deep desire to be nice. I’m not exactly sure where that intention was sparked within me, but I think the virtue was likely ingrained in me as a child. “You must always be nice”, “be a nice person”, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I truly worked so hard at being nice, it felt almost like a competition to me, how could I become the “nicest” person I know.
About a week ago, I was having a conversation with my mom, and I made a comment about being nice, and in an unusually terse tone, she asked me, “what do you mean by nice? what does the word nice mean to you?” Her questions stopped me in my tracks, because in my whole life I had never considered what “nice” really meant. I just felt like I had to embody it, as if it was some universally sought after trait. It’s what “good girls” do. I gathered from her tone, though, that my mom didn’t really hold the word “nice” in high regard, which shocked me. So I naturally, looked up the word nice in the dictionary to find the following definition: pleasing, agreeable.
I was pretty shocked to see that, to be completely honest, because certainly, being pleasing and agreeable are not the foundational values I tend to hold in my life, but as I began to look closely at my life for 33 years, it’s definitely played out that way.
Holding so tightly the intention of “being nice” has shown up as:
- people pleasing
- compromising of my values and beliefs
- inconveniencing my life for someone or something else
- keeping quiet about things that matter to me for fear of confrontation
- inauthentic interactions and relationships
- shallow conversation
- wasting of valuable time in said shallow conversations
- making false promises
- lacking of boundaries
- poor communication
- loss of sense of self
As you can imagine, these aren’t really habits, behaviors, and experiences I wish to continue in my life. Which left me feeling challenged to redefine this guiding intention of my life. I no longer wish to be “nice”, so what do I truly wish to be?
I pulled out the dictionary again to see what words resonated, and these are the ones that truly stick for me:
- kind: of a good or benevolent nature or disposition
- compassionate: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
- caring:feeling or showing concern for or kindness to others
These three words feel so much better and much more aligned for me! I can vividly see how these words will play out in my life, in a healthier and more meaningful way, which I’m so excited about.
Is there an overarching intentional word in your life that’s no longer serving you? What will you replace it with? I can’t wait to find out.