coming to terms with not always being "nice"

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Poison Ivy

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coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« on: February 05, 2020, 05:56:38 PM »
I've noticed that a lot of people who post on this forum struggle with this.  (I'm jumping up and down and waving my hand right now.)  I think that overall, I'm a more pleasant, higher functioning, kinder person now than when I was in the depths of the bad stuff in my marriage.  But my ex-husband is not a mean person or an abuser, and my decision to end the marriage and many of the ramifications of that decision still have me feeling as though I'm "not nice."  If you can relate to these kinds of thoughts and feelings, please respond and tell me how you cope.  Thanks!

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1footouttadefog

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2020, 07:02:14 PM »
Being assertive, clinically factual, or going against the common conscencus can feel like not being nice of you are an empathic person and can feel the emotions of others. 

I am coming to accept that just because a situation does "not feel" good because of these things, does not really make it a horrible situation because it's not my job to make others feel good.  My integrity is important and always has been.  The difference is that I might have kept my opinions more to myself to avoid feelings of conflict or not being nice. 

I have also observed that nice is not always nice and so often it's manufactured by of people as a tool to manipulate.  Additionally pds like to call others out for not being nice to manipulate situations.

You were angry...
You were not happy about that...
I could tell you did not agree...
You should have seen the look on your face....

As is not agreeing or resisting abuse or harrasemebt or manipulation makes you not nice.  In reality those acts are not nice.

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GentleSoul

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2020, 03:04:37 AM »
Interesting thread, thank you for raising this subject, "Posion Ivy".

I used to struggle with this whole thing of me meant to be nice.  As my work on myself has gone on, I view being nice as me being sick.  Me trying to lie, manipulate, people please, etc.  Being true to self is what is important ad doing it in a healthy way.

When dealing with a person with a PD (my H and parents, in my case) is done using an honest technique (so Medium Chill, Grey Rock, Al-anon's Detach with Love etc). 

More and more, I view me being nice is me fawning, placating, lying, manipulating.   I very strongly do not want to do any of those things.

I want to be respectful of myself and others.  I see using the PD techniques above as me using  both self respect and respect to a person with a PD.

I am in the place where it doesn't matter what others think of me, it is what I think of me that counts.

In the past I submitted, buttered up, fawned over etc.      All very urgh behaviours but they were what I needed to do at the time, as the person I was at the time.  Gradually they became completely unacceptable to me.  As my self respect and self esteem grew.  It is now that I simply cannot do them.  My mind and body will not allow me to. 

To a PD, a nice person is someone who will do exactly as they want, go along with the mentally ill games etc they want to act out.

It was very uncomfortable to let go of the deeply ingrained being nice thing. It helped me when I saw that it was not nice at all.  It was me acting like a thing I was not.  I would much rather have good qualities like being honest, warm, kind, respectful, gentleness, understanding, politeness, a quiet calm voice, supportive and so many more. 

All the qualities I want to have come with boundaries!  Icky niceness does not.  It comes with a doormat on the forehead asking people to wipe their feet on it.

Just my take. 
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 03:44:51 AM by GentleSoul »

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notrightinthehead

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2020, 04:13:17 AM »
Nice is such a vast terrain. You feel you are not being nice. I would work on understanding that feeling. How specifically are you not nice? What exactly do you do that makes you not nice? What would a nice person do that you are not doing? What exactly does nice entail? Maybe you are on to something. Maybe that vage feeling of unease wants to point you to something where you are not in accordance with your values. Maybe you are not being nice to yourself? Maybe it's  just the tip of the iceberg and there is another feeling waiting to come out.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2020, 11:40:56 AM »
Actually, it's more than a vague feeling.  I know why it's coming up now.  My ex-husband was his parents' caregiver for several years. His decision to become their caregiver after he went through two long periods of unemployment and then to ignore me for weeks and months at a time were the biggest contributors to my decision to end the marriage.  His parents both died late last year.  Now he's still at their (his) home, possibly in the midst of some financial difficulties, probably figuratively paralyzed because of his difficulty with getting things done, and I feel responsible because I wasn't "nice" and I ended my marriage with him.

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Bloomie

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2020, 12:13:49 PM »
Poison Ivy - sometimes our very necessary decisions hurt others. For example, my ending a relationship with a family member whose behaviors are toxic for me. That hurt their feelings and hurt other family members who care about both of us.

What I didn't do is harm this family member. I didn't smear her, divide and conquer, gossip, ruin relationships she has with other family and friends, etc. There is an important distinction between hurt and harm.

From where I sit on this side of the screen with this tiny snap shot of the situation you have not harmed your exH. His choices have landed him in this situation. It is sad and it is self limiting for him and has to be difficult to bear witness to for you, but you are not responsible for the law of sowing and reaping that is evident in his life right now.

I spent an agonizingly long period of my life believing one of the most important things about me was being "nice" no matter what. Which was often based on the feedback of people who were not healthy or ready to take advantage of me and point out I had not met their standard of "niceness". Exhausting and impossible to sustain.

I now just settle for good... which is internally focused and determined. I try to make sure each day that I do my best to align myself with my core values and my aim is to have a nurturing, encouraging, and healing effect and to invest my energy and efforts in reliable people.

Quote
I feel responsible because I wasn't "nice" and I ended my marriage with him.
I want to say this with gentle care, but when we come OOTF we refuse feelings = facts and responsibility for the natural consequences of another's choices -which we zero control over.

It is possible to "burn" or "sever" your agreement with this false belief about yourself. And then, if you choose to do that and let that go... there may be something else you are experiencing underneath that you want to work through as notrightinthehead suggests?
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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BeautifulCrazy

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2020, 06:22:37 PM »
It sounds like we are actually discussing the difference between being "nice" and being "kind".
My uPDh is being "nice" right now. I'm not so sure he is "kind" to anyone.
I think most people do make decisions based on kindness, like Bloomie called it, being good, and described it as something coming from inside or from core values.
I notice with my kids' and my own choices lately that sometimes if we make decisions and act in ways that come from being kind, (especially if they are based on being kind to ourselves, like choosing to leave a relationship), they may not seem very "nice" to others.
Maybe it's fair to say that nice is a socially acceptable (and maybe not always honest) outward way of behaving, while kindness is a reflection of what's within?
Just some thoughts.

~BC

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Poison Ivy

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2020, 06:40:03 PM »
Thank you to all who have responded. 

It always has been very difficult to determine what it means to be kind and compassionate to someone such as my ex-husband because of his particular behaviors and possible underlying disorders.  Long-term unemployment during which he didn't look for work:  "Oh, honey, that's okay!" or "Could you please apply for some jobs?"  Attempted financial fraud:  "Oh, honey, I know that thinking about money stresses you out!" or "Please don't break the law!"  Extended ghosting:  "It's okay that you don't want to talk to me for months at a time when you're at your parents' house." or "I feel sad and abandoned when you don't communicate with me."

My ex has had several different therapists, and I have read extensively about depression, anxiety, dependent personality disorder, NPD, and ADHD, all of which might be things he "has."  The tips given to the spouse (e.g., me) of a person with all these disorders (e.g., my ex) are all over the board. 

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doglady

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2020, 12:22:51 AM »
I have been told I’m not being ‘nice,’ when in fact I have simply chosen not to try and meet someone’s unreasonable demands, or simply expressed a differing point of view, or not subscribed to someone’s idea of the perfect subservient, 1950s little lady.

Eg. When my updM has wanted me to do something I don’t wish to do and I’ve said No and she’s then tried to nag me into it, and I’ve refused to capitulate, she has labelled me as ‘not very nice.’

Eg. When I have respectfully disagreed with my updMIL’s very black-and-white/ racist/unscientific/denialist opinions, I have been labelled ‘not very nice.’

Eg. When as a woman - and let’s face it, there is often a greater expectation on us to be nice -  if I haven’t smiled enough at some old uncle’s ‘hilarious’ sexist joke, I have been regarded by my FOO as ‘not very nice’ for not making said sexist old git comfortable espousing his crap.

I could go on...and on, but you get the picture.

The thing is: people without PDs don’t label people in this way unless the other person has actually intentionally hurt someone somehow and/or not made amends for it. That would warrant a ‘not nice’ label. The other things is that for those is brought up in dysfunctional families, we’re all too finely tuned to the expectation to be ‘nice,’ ie lie down and let all the FOO PDs use you as a doormat and keep you in line with their ‘nice-o-meters.’

So yes, while it does depend on one’s definition of ‘nice,’ it does seem that ‘nice’ often gets used by pwPDs to manipulate and judge others.

Therefore I use the following rules of thumb to determine if my actions are ‘reasonable’ and ‘not unkind,’ as opposed to complying with someone else’s self-serving label of me as being ‘nice’ enough.
1. Would a reasonable person be all bent out of shape by my decision/difference of opinion/statement of boundaries?
2. Have I done anything illegal, immoral or actively hurtful?
And
3. Did it just simply clash with someone else’s need for control?
If the latter, I have no compunction about not being ‘nice’ as being ‘nice’ under these circumstances would cause me to feel anxious, depressed - and oppressed. No thank you. Not any more. Too old for this crap.

Just my 2c worth.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 12:56:04 AM »
BTW, I belatedly realized that I used the same phrase ("coming to terms") in my subject as another recent poster did.  Sorry!  I didn't mean to copy! 

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athene1399

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2020, 01:57:43 PM »
I hope this makes sense as I am not sure I am defining nice in the same way. But from reading what you feel guilty about, I think I am.

At work I realized I was confusing "nice" with "enabling". I thought it was nice to help others out, but then I noticed it's the same person over and over. I also noticed that this person needs help getting work done because they are not always on task. So me being nice led this person to continue not doing what they needed to do. I decided to redefine nice as my family does this to me as well. For example, it would be one thing if something came up once, but if every time I meet sis out, she expects me to stop at the store on the way becasue she asks. When I did this I was enabling instead of being nice. Like we both drove to where we were meeting, yet I was expected to do her a "favor" and get what she forgot at the store. I know uPD M would say I am not being nice, but anytime I am not bending over backwards for others means I am not being nice in her eyes. That view of nice is exhausting. It was burning me out. I was taking on more than I could do. Another way to tell if it's nice vs enabling (IMO) is if you're allowed to ask for people to do nice things for you. If you feel uncomfortable asking, then you probably are going overboard with the "nice".

I feel too often people put a spin on "nice" to mean, do what I want or I'll accuse you of not being nice. This is using nice as a weapon, as a manipulation tactic. Or they make you feel that way so you feel guilty over "nice" regardless of who you are interacting with.

What you described with your xh is totally fine IMO. Doing things for your own mental health is good, even if that means you have to cut others out of your life. If you always did what was "nice" for others, your needs would never get met.

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11JB68

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2020, 02:50:12 PM »
Ivy, no one here has a trademark on 'coming to terms'... Unfortunately it's a common feeling for all of us!
Also I agree with those who talked about nice vs kind.
Also, I've been told by pds in my life that I'm 'too nice' to others... When it hurts or doesn't benefit them... But not nice enough to them, need to be nicer etc when they are feeling needy!

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Crushed_Dad

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2020, 08:14:37 AM »
Took DD for a meal on Sunday evening, a place she likes going and has done for a few years. Service is normally very attentive and speedy, we normally always come away happy. Bit of a disaster this time though, 20 mins just to get our order in, another 20 for starters to be delivered. I actually took my DD's empty starter plate back to counter myself and fetched our drinks from the bar.

Turns out all the staff have been told to use devices to take orders with instead of a pen and pad. Instead of looking around at their client base in order to be attentive they all have their heads buried in these devices. Everyone else sat around us was mentioning the same thing amongst themselves...

After 30 mins waiting for mains enough was enough, I approached them away from DD and without being rude I highlighted to them that perhaps they could start looking after the customers demands rather than adhering to the will of the tech their heads were buried in, also that carrying on like this will mean inevitably people wont come and they'll all be out of jobs..... Needless to say it was clearly a decree from "up high" they use these things, as the whole meal was an unmitigated disaster from their point of view. I hope it's not a sign of the future as DD loves it there. Previously as the consumer I'd probably just have sucked it up.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2020, 10:49:33 AM »
Sometimes it helps me to look up definitions of words to gain some clarity. For me nice seems like a very subjective word so I looked it up.

"agreeable, satisfactory, to ones liking, delightful, acceptable" so no from the point of view of the recipient my words or actions aren't always nice. They can't be. Sometimes reality isn't all rainbows and butterflies and that's ok, that's life.

Sometimes we *have* to say things that aren't agreeable or delightful to someone else.

Using words like hurt vs harm helped me adjust that yes what I say may hurt someone but I try to be kind and thoughtful in delivering the message. It may not be well received just he same but my conscience is clear for having tried my best. Although my very best isn't enough for some it's all I have to give and I try. That's all any human can realistically do.
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NumbLotus

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2020, 11:23:35 AM »
I think maybe the absolute most fundamental issue with PD is the concept of boundaries. Your stuff, my stuff.

"Nice" is code for "I can break your boundaries easily, or you are willing to break your own which is even nicer."

I'm thinking "being nice" shouldn't even be on our list of values. Things like "identifying and expressing my needs clearly and respectfully," "being able to hear the needs of others," "identifying what is my stuff and what is your stuff and respecting those boundaries," maybe are more useful than "being nice."

"Enabling," for example, is breaking a boundary. If boundaries are made up of rights and responsibilities, separating someone from a responsibility that is rightfully theirs is breaking a boundary as much as demanding they serve you. And it hurts them as well as hurting you.
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea
Another lonely day, noone here but me
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biggerfish

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2020, 11:51:05 AM »
Things like "identifying and expressing my needs clearly and respectfully," "being able to hear the needs of others," "identifying what is my stuff and what is your stuff and respecting those boundaries," maybe are more useful than "being nice."
This is what all my current personal relationships now look like. And I can tell you that these are healthy, loving, close relationships with mutual respect and mutual compassion. I could never go back to the old way. I do sometimes get an emotional jolt because the act of doing all these good things is still an effort. Maybe it will always be. But so worth it.

Professional relationships can be a little more of a wild card.  ;)

 

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Oscen

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Re: coming to terms with not always being "nice"
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2020, 11:53:44 AM »
I suffer from it too.
Agree with what others are saying - "nice" is not the same is "kind"; I would add, nor is it the same as "good".
I like the comments here on values and boundaries; start with your values, then boundaries are easier to define and maintain.