While there is nothing wrong with being a nice person, there can be some constraints to being labeled ‘a nice girl’. When that label is bestowed upon you, whether from those around you or from your own self-declaration it can hem in the freedom of expressing your emotions, formulating boundaries, and living as your most authentic and complicated self.
Throughout our lives, women can be raised up to be nice. Studies have shown that gender bias starts young and that young girls are usually expected to behave more than their male counterparts. As we grow older this can also evolve as women are more likely to be tension diffusers, we are social creatures and being accepted and liked has long been an essential survival skill for us. But, for those who feel locked into people pleasing behaviors or afraid to speak their mind lest they upset someone, it could be that you are trapped in the confines of ‘the nice girl myth’.
Slow Right Down
For those of us who have been on nice girl autopilot for so long it can be difficult to break free from old habits. The number one thing to start practicing is slowing things right down. While it may feel more normal to jump to saying yes to something or being quick to agree, by doing this you aren’t taking time out to see how you really feel. Slow it down, take a few breaths and try to feel your feels before you take action. Even if you can’t give an immediate response – that’s fine. Its time to live on the terms of your own time and this means pausing the action until you know how you feel.
Learn How to Express Anger
The price that can be paid for being nice all the time is heavy internalization. Emotions work best when they are balanced and for those who feel like anger is a dirty scary word, you could be holding down those feelings that really need to come to the surface and be processed.
When we don’t allow our full spectrum of emotions to shine, this can lead to heightened anxiety. It is worth addressing your relationship to anger and weaving in ways in which you can learn to express it or provide an outlet for it. This doesn’t have to be screaming bloody murder at someone but can be in the form of a safe space and therapy, journaling, or movement based.
Work on Honesty
If you are used to holding back when it comes to your true feelings or only sharing the words you think others want to hear, then it may be time to work on your honesty. Saying what people want to hear regardless of the reason doesn’t actually help anyone in the long run.
When we aren’t living in our honest and authentic truth we are sending messages to ourselves that says - ‘my opinion doesn’t matter’. But your opinion matters the most when it comes yo you and this is why it’s important to learn how to be honest with yourself. Start working on being braver in conversations and sharing your honest opinion. You don’t need to use honesty like a blunt tool, as a nice girl you are sure to already have the methods needed to be gentle and true.
Stand Your Ground
Holding boundaries is one of the most important things you can do when trying to break free of that nice girl people pleasing cycle. Implementing boundaries is one thing, holding them tight is another. When it comes to standing our ground, one of the most important things is to know our values so we are able to make choices that align with them.
When we are clear on our own values and what feels comfortable to us and what doesn’t, we have a foundation on which to build these boundaries. People may try and push against your boundaries or tell you what they think is best for you. Remember, you are your own greatest advocate and only you know what works. You can simply thank someone for their input and move forward with your own choices. It’s time to learn not to second guess yourself, but to stand your ground.
Are you a self-declared nice girl? What tips can you share about breaking the habit?