6 signs you’re too nice for your own good (and people are taking advantage of you)

If you’re like me, your mother taught you that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

And rules like “sharing is caring” and “use kind words” probably put the ‘kind’ in your kindergarten experiences.

But have these guidelines sabotaged your life?

Have you turned out to be “too nice”?!

We say this about people in two different circumstances.

First, when someone gives us a great gift or words of praise, we tell them they’re too kind. But that’s just a way of being humble and is by no means a genuine criticism.

On the other hand, we also say people are too nice when we see them getting trampled all over like an old doormat. This expression really means that we’d like to see those people stand up for themselves.

In other words, we don’t want them to be as kind as they are.

Funny, isn’t it?

But if you are too nice, you can end up having a lot of unintended negative consequences come into your life.

Maybe you’re one of these people who others wish would be a little less kind. But how would you know?

Here are six signs you’re too nice for your own good, and people are taking advantage of you.

1) You can’t say no

The biggest sign that you’re too nice is that you just can’t say no. To anyone. Ever.

It’s not that you’re inherently positive because saying no and being a negative person aren’t at all the same thing.

Being negative means that you generally have a pessimistic worldview. It means that you look at people as threats and the world as inherently hostile.

But being able to say no is a skill that actually represents emotional and social intelligence.

It’s fine to feel sorry for others or to want them to be happy. But knowing when to refuse requests for your own time, energy, and resources is a skill.

It shows that you have compassion for yourself, and you know how much you can give before it takes a toll on you.

If you can’t say no, everyone will find out almost immediately. People who are habitual users will train their sights on you and start to use you to do their bidding, nefarious or otherwise.

And even people who would only occasionally use others would choose you first because, well, they can see that it’s easy to get you to do things.

2) You always cover for people

One of the things that you’re probably doing for others all the time is covering for them.

This could be in work situations like one I found myself mixed up in years ago.

I was a student and had a really cool job at the university library. Just checking in and out books and collecting fines. It didn’t take a lot of brainpower, and there were always great books to look at during downtime.

But I had one coworker in particular who was forever popping out to do personal business.

She’d ask me to cover for her all the time, and while I did when it was five minutes here and there, she started to be away longer and longer, even up to an hour at a time, and it became harder to cover for her.

It was clear she was taking advantage of me, and it made me really uncomfortable.

But not as uncomfortable as an ex-friend of mine made me.

In his case, it was covering for him when he told his wife he was at my place. Of course, he wasn’t, or at least not the whole time, and this quickly became a real problem.

I was put in a really bad situation where I had to choose to lie or let my friend down.

Well, you can see why we’re not friends anymore!

But if you’re always covering for people, you’re being taken advantage of and maybe even sacrificing your morals in the process.

3) You’re worn out from doing things for others

Are you beat? Fatigued? Worn out like an old pair of shoes?

Maybe that’s because, in addition to your own commitments and responsibilities, you’re taking on tasks for others.

Hey, I know we all do favors for people once in a while, but we all need to have limits as well.

Everyone has tough times, and we all need help in our lives. I’m sure you want the people you care about to know that they can lean on you when they’re not strong.

But if they’re constantly leaning on you, there’s an obvious question – how much can you support before you topple over?

How much can you do for others before you’re running yourself ragged?

Helping others shouldn’t be all about sacrificing yourself. After all, if you do, you’ll quickly lose your power to help anyone, even yourself.

It’s critical to take time to relax and refresh yourself, to perform self-care, and to build up your energy.

Even if you’re one of those people who truly loves giving your all to bring happiness and light into the world, you have to make sure that you’re able to replenish yourself to continue being able to do this.

So there’s nice, there’s super nice, and then there’s so nice that you do damage to yourself – and that’s not nice at all!

4) Your schedule isn’t your own

Have a think about the things you have on your to-do list right now.

Now answer this question: How many of them are actually yours?

You might say they all are as they’re your commitments. 

But if your commitments are things like “Drive Jenny to the airport,” “Help Simone with her big project,” and “Prep Hassan for his interview tomorrow,” it’s easy to see that your schedule isn’t truly your own.

If it’s loaded with tasks for others, you’re getting a great picture of how much others are gaining from your time and effort.

“Fine,” you might say. “I love giving my time to help others.”

If that’s really how you feel, and you can honestly say that no one is taking advantage of you, but instead, you’re actively looking to help people, I get it. You’re getting something.

But if that’s not the case and all these tasks for others are on your schedule because you weren’t able to say no and didn’t want to let anyone down, you’re being used.

It’s easy to figure out. 

If you’d rather be doing something else with your time, people are taking advantage of you.

5) You don’t express your opinion

Being too nice isn’t just about doing things for others. It can also be expressed in the way you do or don’t express yourself.

I have a friend, Ginny, who is so nice that everyone really likes her.

Or, at least, they think they do.

See, she almost never speaks up and voices her opinion if it even seems in any way to conflict with what others think or believe.

When a group is talking, and people are giving different opinions, she’s still always quiet. It seems like she doesn’t want to take a side or hurt anyone’s feelings, so she says nothing.

Nice, right?

But what does that do to her?

I mean, she either goes along with what others say, or she keeps her opinion to herself, and that means she’s self-censoring and stifling her own expression.

I think it makes her lose confidence in herself because she doesn’t practice listening to and expressing her own voice.

6) You avoid conflict

In a similar way, people who are way too nice will rarely, if ever, be found embroiled in a conflict.

I’m talking about anything from a simple disagreement to a real debate or even a big old fight.

Do they always just fold at any sign of disparity?

Well, yes, usually. But even more than that, they usually don’t let things go even that far. They have a certain radar for disagreements and manage to navigate away from them so adeptly that you’d never even suspect a difference of opinion existed.

They’ll seem agreeable at all times, but if you look deeper, you’ll also see that they don’t express their opinions. They let others give theirs first, so they don’t risk being at odds with anyone. Then, they can just keep silent or go along with what others say.

Again, they’re denying themselves for the sake of a sort of false social harmony, and it takes a toll.

Final thoughts

Do these six signs you’re too nice for your own good and people are taking advantage of you sound familiar?

If they do, you’re being too nice, and it’s blocking you from expressing who you really are. Sometimes, it really comes down to a choice between being good to yourself or to others, and if you never choose yourself, you’re doing yourself a great injustice.

So no matter how nice you want to be to others, remember you have to be kind to yourself, too.

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