Do Nice Girls Finish Last?
Are you too nice? What’s that old adage – nice gals/guys finish last? Is it so? Whether it be a cliché or not, do you try your very darnedest to be the epitome of niceness?
Why would you bother, I ask? To hear people say, “You’re the nicest person I know – you never have a bad word to say about anyone.” What high expectations to live up to. It must take its toll keeping that halo polished up to such a sparkly, shiny, sheen. Seems to me that keeping that nice girl image in tact may hold you back from being authentic.
What is nice any way? Even the word nice is bland.
A quick definition reveals nice to be: polite, respectable, agreeable, pleasant, wonderful – need I continue? In one way, it feels so very good to be that person who never says a bad word about anybody. And, naturally, you’d assume that you’re not giving anyone a reason to say a bad word about you. It feels good. You like to be liked and what better way than being nice as pie to everybody who crosses your path? To conform to certain behaviours and opinions gains us social acceptance within society, and we don’t want to be the odd one out, do we?
I’d dare to suggest that it is actually impossible to control other’s opinions about you. They either like you or they don’t. And, to be honest, it works both ways. You won’t like everyone you meet, even if you are just too polite to show it. You may be smiling and ever so affable on the outside but your mind is screaming, “Get me out of here and away from this self-obsessed person who turns everything around to be about them!” But you keep smiling and nodding because looking bored or and walking away wouldn’t be nice, would it? And you are a very nice person, and you know this because everyone tells you so.
Incongruence lives within. Often termed cognitive dissonance – your behaviour doesn’t quite match what you are thinking. This can bring about copious amounts of mental torment when you are holding two conflicting beliefs or values at the same time.
Sound like hard work? Yes it is, but you still continue to persevere. Let’s see if you check any of the following items; you don’t express strong opinions from anything political to anything theological – you couldn’t possibly take the chance of offending anyone. And when asked when or what you want the best policy is to always conform with the popular consensus, “Oh, I’m easy, I’ll have what you’re having,” or, “I’m open to anything.” And, horror of horrors, you could never say the ‘no’ word to anyone. You can even resort to downright lying, “Oh, I’d love to come but I’m taking my cat to the ophthalmologist tonight.”
Further to that, you agonise and procrastinate over your responses to emails or texts. Goodness me, what would people think if your reply was anything less than nice? Your well-cultivated niceness would evaporate if you put a foot wrong, so you tread very carefully because your reputation depends on it. Or does it?
Here’s a thought, what if being so very, very nice when it’s not genuine was in fact just reframed as fake niceness? Now there’s a scary thought. But being fake goes against your basic core beliefs of being a polite, respectable, agreeable, pleasant, and wonderful human being.
But it could be that the majority of us do engage in fake niceness on a daily basis, when the situation demands it. Hands up if you dabble in a little fake niceness here and there? Yep, thought so. We’re only human after all. I guess it’s about intention. So, if there is no intention to cause harm as opposed to intentionally causing harm, you’re looking good.
backhanded comments. This is usually a dead giveaway of fake niceness: “Those pants look great on you – very flattering around your rear end,” or maybe, “This food is divine, which caterer did you use?”
I think you’ll work them out. It’s when you stand there momentarily with your mouth open and emitting no sound. Sometimes that brain freeze mode just kicks in! Or you revert back to your niceness default and give an elaborate explanation about your ongoing battle with your rear end and finding suitable apparel that makes you presentable in public. Goodness me, we wouldn’t want that not-so-nice person to feel uncomfortable in our presence.
Getting back to not being able to say ‘no’. You may assume that it is your job to make family, friends and co-workers happy. But ah no, that’s their responsibility. If you continually put other’s needs ahead of your own, naturally resentment will eventually kick in.
It’s about setting boundaries that you are comfortable with and feeling empowered. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. A little bit of assertiveness goes a long way. How does this sound? Instead of, “Oh I’d love to come, but
the cat also has an orthodontists appointment I forgot about – he’s getting braces,” to, “Oh, thanks, but I’m just not in the mood for a night out.” So much less stress and, dare I say it, honest.
Congratulations you have just empowered yourself and you’re still a nice person!
Let’s have a look at the nice gal/guys finishing last question that we started off with. What is technically a positive trait can also be a negative trait for some of us. Research demonstrates that genetics and life experiences combine to make us who we are. So, whether you are wired for niceness or just brought up with it, being nice to others will benefit them as well as boosting your mood. Or it could just come down to good old chemistry – your brain releases endorphins and serotonin when you do something nice for someone and you get a hit. Whatever the rationale, maybe coming in at second place isn’t such a bad place to finish after all.