The majority of us want to be a good person who leaves a positive legacy.
But the truth is that if you’re too kind there’s a lot of downsides.
Here’s my honest look at how being too compassionate and too kind can backfire.
1) You get used
First and foremost in the bad things that happen when you’re too kind is that you get used.
I’m talking about others using your kindness against you in various ways:
- Financially taking advantage of you
- Demanding your attention constantly
- Using you for sympathy and emotional support
- Expecting you to make their decisions and weigh options
- Using you as a “fallback” romantic partner when their first choice falls through…
And so on.
Being used is awful and leaves you feeling disempowered and devalued.
2) You’re treated poorly
Being overly kind to other people also leads to often being treated poorly.
Many people who are struggling are not in a frame of mind to notice the needs and struggles of others.
As a result they may lean on you and depend on you in ways that become codependent or even downright emotionally or physically abusive.
Having your kindness mistaken for weakness is a sad thing to happen indeed. But it’s something you need to watch out for if you’re a naturally kind-hearted individual.
As they say: broken people break people.
3) You become an unpaid therapist
Another of the bad things that happen when you’re too kind is that you become an unpaid therapist.
Your inbox and phone are constantly full of complaints from friends and even casual acquaintances who want your advice and compassion.
They just got divorced…
Their mental health issues are off the charts.
It’s awful, and you want to be there, but after a few hours you may realize you haven’t even had time to cook dinner yet.
Which brings me to the next point…
4) You run out of time and energy for yourself
If you’re too kind to others, even those very close to you, you often end up running out of time and energy for yourself.
We all need a certain amount of time and energy to take care of our basic hygiene and need for food, rest and relaxation.
When you cede that time to being available for others, you sometimes end up depriving yourself of it by default.
This can only go on for so long before it becomes exhausting and detrimental to your physical and mental health.
5) You betray your own values and principles
Next up in the bad things that happen when you’re too kind is that you may end up double crossing yourself.
For example, you may end up enabling a partner who’s abusive or using drugs because you can’t bear the thought of kicking them out or breaking up with them.
You may allow a salesman to manipulate you into buying a lot of things you don’t want because he’s told you how difficult his struggle is to put his two kids through college.
You don’t even want the special cable package deal he’s pitching you, but you feel awful for him.
You said you’d never be the kind of person who gets talked into things by high-pressure salesmen, but here you are pulling out your credit card and paying an exorbitant price…
6) You enable bad and even criminal behavior
As we continue to explore the bad things that happen when you’re too kind we get to potentially dangerous territory.
Sometimes being too kind can lead to actual harm and enabling criminal and life-threatening behavior.
- Allowing friends to drunk drive because you don’t want to be a “buzz kill.”
- Covering your wife’s extra expenses on her credit card even though you know she’s been cheating on you and using part of her money on that and therefore coming up short on her monthly bill…
- Telling your son that whatever he chooses in life is fine as long as it makes him happy, when you know he’s getting into a life of gang violence and drug dealing…
The list goes on, but the bottom line is the same:
Being too nice can lead to you giving a pass to people who really don’t deserve one and are harming themselves or others by you granting them one.
7) You end up dating people you don’t like
Another of the very bad things that happen when you’re too kind is that you end up dating people you don’t want to be with.
Being too nice or too shy to be honest that you’re not feeling it can lead to finding yourself in multi-year relationships you don’t want to be in.
That sounds kind of like a waking nightmare to me, but I’ve seen it happen to close friends of mine and it’s definitely possible.
They’re too nice to reject someone who’s interested in someone and eventually end up locked in a relationship they really don’t want to be in.
Not only is this disempowering and depressing, it also prevents them from meeting somebody else who may be a much better match.
8) You get talked into beliefs and paths that aren’t for you
Earlier I spoke about the example of a salesman talking you into something you don’t want.
This applies more broadly as well. The overly kind person often gets manipulated into religious, spiritual, marketing or business paths they don’t want.
- “Join our peer marketing group! It’s amazing and you’ll make 800% returns in your first month.”
- “Join our church, you’ll go express line to Heaven or your money back!”
- “Welcome to the High Vibrations Yoga Troupe where we only think positive and you are guaranteed to have the life of your dreams for only 20 small payments of $799.99.”
And so on…
These all sound kind of scammy, but despite healthy skepticism, the overly kind person may find it hard to resist the charm and insistence of sales people and those who are trying to talk them into things which are not in their best interests.
9) You get emotionally manipulated
Emotional manipulation is nasty whenever it occurs, whether it’s in relationships, friendships or any other context.
If you’re overly kind, this often presents you as a tasty target for people who like to emotionally manipulate.
Whether that be a close partner or somebody at work, others may play the victim, threaten you, persuade you, falsely befriend you or otherwise try to use emotional tactics to get to you and get you to do what they want.
None of us are fully immune to these kinds of tricks, but the goal is to get to a point where it’s easier to see the being played and take steps to avoid and short-circuit such tactics.
10) You get taken for granted and loaded down with other people’s sh*t
Last and most of all, the problem with being overly compassionate and thoughtful and kind is that you can become a pack mule.
Others give you all their problems, responsibilities and worries to take care of and resolve and you’re left without ever taking care of yourself.
You may end up poor, left behind at work, romantically frustrated and personally feeling low value.
You were too kind to everyone else and not kind enough to yourself.
Being kind to yourself…
Being kind to yourself isn’t always easy, especially if you were raised in a difficult environment or absorbed messages early on about having to “earn” love by serving the needs of others.
Many kids grew up in ways that taught them the wrong way to give and receive love.
Many of us didn’t ever learn to really be kind to ourselves and value ourselves.
Being kind to yourself can mean having days where you relax, standing up for your rights at work, demanding respect and attention in relationships and learning how and when to say no.
It often means learning how to establish boundaries and stick to them, including what we will or will not accept from others.
Sometimes it can mean breaking up with someone or blocking someone and really sticking to it.
Sometimes it can mean choosing your own spiritual or religious path even when your family or close friends think it’s mistaken.
Treating others well is great, but it should never be at the expense of doing what’s right for us and making sure our own basic needs are taken care of and fulfilled.
Balancing kindness with self-interest
We all have to find a way to balance kindness with self-interest.
Even in a family or romantic relationship, there are certain areas of our lives such as our own health that we have to sometimes put first.
This is just the reality of being alive.
Treating others with respect and consideration is highly recommended, but sacrificing your own wellbeing or values for the sake of helping others, even those close to you, is something you’re better off avoiding.
Remember to never forget about yourself. You matter too, and sometimes you need to come first.