I’m going straight to the point with this one: if you’re keeping people happy around you, you’re betraying yourself in some way.
This clarity, this realisation, is a fairly recent one for me, and it begged me to share it with you.
Like me, you probably grew up thinking it was your job to take care of other people’s feelings, to be nice in a way that puts others first. It’s a cultural thing. We grow up with endless cues that make one thing very clear: putting our own needs first is shameful. Think of all the looks and subtle reactions that screamed selfish at you. And so you quickly learn to take on other people’s emotions, and that how they feel in response to something you do is your responsibility. Life teaches us to be nice.
You know what? I can’t stand that word. Now, don’t misunderstand me; I don’t mean kind, or loving, or respectful, or compassionate. Those are wonderful and very important qualities. I love to be all those things.
But nice has a quality about it that I haven’t been comfortable with for a long time, and it has to do with how we place ourselves in relation to others. Nice has a big, fat people-pleasing feel that I’m finally done with. I’ve been nice all my life. I’ve wanted people to like me. All my life.
Nice to everyone.
Because here’s the thing. You can’t be nice to everyone and honour your soul’s needs. You can’t please everyone and be true to who you are. You can’t keep everyone happy and feel good about yourself. You just can’t.
Listen to what you want, to what you need, and respond, act, take action accordingly – in a kind and loving way, and then leave whoever it is to deal with their opinions and reactions. That’s their job.
Your job is not to keep folk happy. Let me say that again. Your job is not to keep folk happy.
Your job is to live your life, express who you are, fulfil your purpose and cultivate the real you.
This is terrifying stuff, let me tell you, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t like to ruffle any feathers or cause any upset. It can seem far easier to just say yes, to tell people what they want to hear, but that light inside you dims just a little more every time you push it away.
A couple of weeks ago, someone had asked me to do something that I’ve always agreed to. This time, something was different. I knew what I really wanted to say. And yet, saying yes would have been the easy thing to do – it would have been the nice thing to do.
But I said no, gently. I sat with that person’s reaction and felt the discomfort and the awkwardness of it all, and how potentially they think less of me.
And do you know what? It’s all OK! I grew, right in that moment, my light shone brighter in that moment and I felt proud and empowered – and the discomfort and their being offended wasn’t such an issue in my head.
Learn to get used to discomfort so that you’re not afraid of it or avoiding it. Be OK with people feeling miffed and unimpressed with you – that’s how you’ll know you’re doing the right thing by you (as long as you’re being kind and loving… common sense disclaimer here!).
Nice keeps discomfort and any sense of ick at bay. Nice is our attempt at hiding, playing it safe and ensuring a smooth ride. It’s our way of staying beneath the turbulence.
Instead, I want you to meet the turbulence and appreciate it as a sign that you’re fully showing up to life and soaring higher.
Meet it, be with it, breathe through it. Then you’re ready to do what Marianne Williamson says about turbulent skies.
Fly above it.