Updated: Oct 13, 2021
This post is inspired by my daughter, Charity…whose name befits her character
The title is not referring to the nice or kind things we do for others. It’s not referring to the kindness that comes from the heart. It refers to when we’re giving up a part of our authenticity to satisfy the expectations of others; when we’re “nice” because we fear what others may say, or what others may think. It refers to when our “niceness” is motivated by disingenuous reasons.
We all have the right, as well as the ability, to be authentic. Authenticity is the expression of what is genuine and real in us. When we are disingenuous or pretentious, we diminish ourselves and disrespect others. The Guarani Indians of South America believe that those who lie and squander their words betray their soul. This amounts to soul loss and taints our integrity, which then diminishes our character. While your personality implies who you seem to be on the outside, your character defines who you really are on the inside.
When we say yes, but we really mean no; when we tell someone “oh, it doesn’t matter,” when it really does; when we allow others to take advantage of us and refuse to stand up for “self” because we fear confrontation, we betray our soul … which taints our integrity and diminishes our character.
Throughout our life, it’s important to build character and to develop inner strength. Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, believed that as we age, if we do not develop strength of character, we become defensive, dogmatic, depressed, resentful, and cynical. That’s because we have no sense of who we are or what we stand for. We’ve squandered ourselves away by being less than authentic.
Don’t misunderstand. There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with being nice. Authentic niceness is an outgrowth of deep kindness and caring which comes naturally from the heart. But when being nice comes at the expense of soul loss and character diminishment because we’re being fake, we must re-evaluate our reasons for doing so. Being nice does not mean becoming a doormat for other people. Learning to speak your truth, in constructive ways, will honor what’s real in you and respect what’s real in others. Stop being “nice” and start being real.