I’m a nice guy, I really am.
I care about other people, helping them and upholding my own compassionate ethical code.
I don’t steal, lie or harm others. I’m polite and considerate whenever possible.
But this hasn’t led me to the happiness I imagined. Instead, my niceness has left me lonely and disappointed. I’m single, I have few close friends and even my own family has admitted they don’t “get it” about why I’m not doing better in life.
It sounds like a complete exaggeration but it’s true: I’m a nice person but nobody likes me!
I want to rewind the tape and find out what led me here, as well as what I can do to find my path to a better way to approach my life and relationships.
What’s wrong with being nice? I like when people are nice to me, and the Golden Rule says to treat others how we want to be treated, right?
I think this has some validity. The problem is that being too nice gets you nowhere in life and can actually become a way to be passive-aggressive.
Taking a magnifying glass to my life and my choices, I can now see how I’ve unconsciously given far too many people permission to walk all over me.
By forcing myself to be so nice and being so dreadfully afraid of being disliked, I’ve written a blank check to everyone around me. Some have been considerate and treated me well. Others have treated me like trash. All have lost respect for me because I placed the center of my power outside of myself.
Being too nice is a trap and it won’t bring you anything good.
The niceness trap
I realized through a failed relationship that many of my “niceness” problems stem from internalized guilt over my parents divorce when I was younger.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you a sob story or play the victim, even though I could.
The point here is to discover the truth, however. And I truly think that niceness became a kind of shield for me and a mask I could wear to hide the sadness and anger I felt underneath.
By pleasing others and presenting a flawless exterior, I was able to even lie to myself. That’s the really sad part.
If I won’t even be honest with myself, how can I be with others?
If the public persona I put forth is basically a lie, then is it any surprise that both guys and girls are a little put off with me?
The truth is that people respond to authenticity, and they can sense it from a mile off.
Clearly, there are some people who are naturally kinder and gentler than others, but people love them!
So what’s the difference between them and you?
In most cases, it’s that you’re using the niceness as a mask, rather than an authentic expression of your inner self.
Let me be frank. As Dr. Gabor Maté explains in this video, being too nice will literally kill you.
I’ve been lost
Assessing why I’m a nice person but nobody likes me hasn’t been easy.
I’ve only really gotten into it once I was backed in a corner with nowhere else to go and just needed to know the answer for my own sanity.
I immediately had a self-righteous voice in my head demanding me to stop pursuing this question: They don’t like you ‘cause they don’t get it…
They don’t like you because they’re assholes…That’s what the voice told me. Victim narrative stories, about how my disappointment in others was fully justified.
I persisted and pressed deeper. What I found is that this was never really about how others are reacting to me or not, but about how I have been disrespecting myself.
I’ve been lost. And I don’t mean that in a religious sense: I mean literally lost.
Somewhere along the line I gave up on the idea of having a purpose and mission for my life and made being “nice” the cornerstone of my existence.
People got sorely tired of it. This is why I’m now redoubling my efforts to find my purpose.
What would you say if I asked you what your purpose is?
It’s not easy to answer!
In the past, I’ve attended super expensive retreats with gurus and coaches who told me to visualize the perfect future and imagine a glowing light surrounding me.
I did just that. For hours. Days even.
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I spent days visualizing my perfect future and trying to manifest it, but I just ended up disillusioned and late to pay my bills.
Let’s be real here:
Finding your purpose isn’t just about being positive, but it’s crucial.
So how do we do it?
Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s has a very insightful video about a weird new way to find your purpose that’s not visualization or positive thinking.
Justin used to be addicted to the self-help industry and New Age gurus just like me. They sold him on ineffective visualization and positive thinking techniques.
Four years ago, he traveled to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, for a different perspective.
Rudá taught him a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life.
I can honestly say that this new way of finding success by finding your purpose actually helped me to get over my compulsion to be a nice guy and please others.
I now have a much firmer grasp on who I am and what my purpose is apart from just making others happy or being nice to them.
Care for yourself
Learning to be less nice is not about swearing at others or becoming rude and dismissive. Quite the opposite.
It’s about learning to care more for yourself and put your locus of attention back on yourself.
Caring for yourself means just that: paying attention to yourself in every way.
Make your physical health a priority and get exercise while eating well.
Make your mental health top importance as well, by making sure that you pay attention to what makes you feel empowered or disempowered.
Be careful to help yourself first before helping others.
You can’t always be the one who puts everyone else first. Sometimes you need to come first.
It would be nice if we lived in a world where you could more or less trust everyone, but we’re not.
That’s one of the big problems with being an overly nice person: people take advantage of you. This can come in many different forms, but the most common ways that people exploit you are the following:
- Financially taking advantage of your niceness to ask for handouts, loans, short-term borrowing or other ways to hit you up for cash
- Romantically taking advantage of you or trying to seduce you in order to get money, promotions or favors
- Taking advantage of niceness to fraudulently ask you for money for a charitable cause that doesn’t exist
- Using you as a passive listener to vent and whine about their problems 24/
- Passing off extra duties and responsibilities on you by misleading you about your roles or guilting you.
Many other forms of gaslighting and exploitation.
Friendzoning is like the curse of the nice guy or girl that follows us everywhere.
I myself have faced it many times.
A huge part of finding my purpose and moving on with my life in a powerful way has been leaving friendzoning behind.
I’ve come to see that I accepted other people framing my reality and terms, instead of being the one to set them.
In other words, my frame of mind was so passive that I assumed it was always somebody else who would decide if they liked me or saw me as more than a friend.
That’s now flipped around: I’m the decider, not the one being decided about.
Of course there are two sides to every equation, so in the case that a girl simply doesn’t see me as more than a friend I make it clear that this isn’t what I’m looking for.
I’ve lost friends over that, for sure.
If I want to be “just friends” I’ll say it; if I want to be more I’ll say that too.
Let the chips fall where they may. Don’t ever catch yourself being a people pleaser to such an extent that you’re two years into a friendzoned friendship and helping your friend pick out her wedding dress.
Demand your rights
Being less nice is about caring for yourself and focusing on discovering your own unique mission in life.
It’s about being honest with others and with yourself.
Now I understand why I’m a nice person and nobody liked me: because I was too obsessed with making them like me and not obsessed enough with making me like myself.
I’ve flipped the script now and am happy to say I’m well on my way to being a reasonably nice guy who stands up for himself a lot more and is also willing to be disliked.