My psychologist told me a while back that “being nice” has many different definitions depending on who you ask. In other words, what you think is being nice may seem like nothing compared to the next person. She advised me to be aware that everyone has the choice to be nice or not to be. But the second part of that is to realize that not everyones definition of nice is the same. This has been a hard truth for me to understand and in turn a harder lesson for me to learn. I am finally starting to accept this, but it doesn’t mean I like it.
I in no way have the delusion that I am a perfect person or that I have my or anyone elses life or how people live their lives figured out. However, I do know that I am a nice person, and I am fairly certain that most would agree. My “in a nutshell” definition of a nice person is someone who always TRIES to do the right thing. Someone who genuinely cares about others, and TRIES to put others wants/needs ahead of their own. I readily admit that when I feel I am being treated badly, I am not always strong enough to meet that treatment by being nice. I may get angry and defend myself, but I will not intentionally cause harm to anyone or intentionally hurt their feelings. I try hard not to smear peoples name or reputation, and to allow people a fair chance to prove themselves to me and others. I also try to always give others the benefit of doubt until they’ve given me reason not to.
Apparantly one of my greatest misconceptions in life, has been that all of this holds true for everyone or at least most people. I believe I am a fairly open minded person and in all fairness, most often try to see things from all perspectives. After all, I am an obsessive overanalyzer.
Early examples of my ignorance?For a very long time it was hard for me to recognize when I was being manipulated, made fun of or duped. I suppose that made me ignorant, or maybe even still makes me ignorant much of the time. When I think back to my adolescent years, I remember being teased by “the popular” kids and thinking it meant I was accepted and part of the group. I remember one day sitting in a “friends” car waiting for them to come out, and then seeing 4 of my peers in the window pointing at me and laughing. I never did find out why, but the memory of that day creeps into my head frequently. The “popular” kids acted like we were buddies and were nice to me when no one else was around, but not in a crowd. I remember cheering at basketball games and some of the popular boys sitting in the stands often pointing and laughing at me without any particular reason, or laughing at or about me on the bus going to games. I believed it must mean the smiles they had meant something good. After all, it’s good when people smile, which means they are nice..right?……..Early examples of my ignorance?
Amongst other things, most importantly I am a mother. I am a mother-in-law. I am a grandmother. As you have read in previous posts, this past year I have been shunned by 2 of my sons and their significant others. And as you have heard, when this first happened I was spoken horribly of publicly by both of them, even AFTER I completely withdrew from the “disagreement”. The point I’m trying to make here is that even now, after all of the pain and irreversible hurt my family has suffered and continues to suffer, I do not speak badly or make questionably negative comments about any of them when people ask me about them. For example, if someone were to ask about any of them, at worst I say “I don’t see them much anymore”. I would NEVER describe them with any negative connotation including saying “they have issues” to anyone as a first impression, not even now. It is not fair nor is it nice to plant a preconceived notion in someone’s head because of my current situation. Added to that, even with all that has happened, at the end of the day I will always love my children.
Nice people don’t bully, ignore, lie, or manipulate situations to their advantage. Nice people don’t steal not only tangible items but time and integrity included. Nice people are human, and humans do make mistakes, however “mistake” means “oops” and when the same mistake happens over and over again, it’s generally safe to say it’s no longer an oops it’s intentional. Ya’ll following me? I thought so.
For ease of conversation let’s focus on family. Is a family member gossiping about you, lying about or to you? Are you, your feelings or a situation being manipulated? Is your loyalty being taken for granted? Is someone taking full advantage of your being a “nice person”? The probability is, if you are a nice person you most likely refuse to see it, refuse to acknowledge it, refuse to accept it and refuse to as they say, “call a spade a spade”. I have lived the majority of my life with the belief that most people are nice and if someone wasn’t nice to me it was because I wasn’t worthy.
…and then I met my husband. In my world, he was like one of the cool guys in school . Only this time was very different. Not only did he acknowledge my exsistance in front of other people but he treated me with nothing but respect. He didn’t laugh at me but he did laugh with me. I mean seriously, even my exhusband and my own children laughed at me sometimes daily. I wanted to be friends with him because he made me feel worthy and who doesn’t want a friend like that?
We both have family members that aren’t “nice” to us. I suspect everyone does but not everyone knows it. Together we have struggled with “doing the right thing” and “being nice” because that’s how we believe family should behave. In turn, we have found our “being nice” getting taken advantage of and ourselves being manipulated or duped. The dilemma upon us now is how do we react to the situation?
Do you feel manipulated, duped or simply taken advantage of? On the other side of the coin, are you the manipulator, the one doing the duping, or taking advantage of a family members good nature? STOP!! Reflect. Be honest with yourself. Find your core values and access your situation. Do you need to step back and accept that someone in your family is not “being nice” to you? Worse, are you not “being nice” to a family member? I am NOT suggesting anyone gets angry, violent or grudge holding in any manner. I AM saying however, in my opinion, that no one deserves anything less than “nice” from their family members. Remember, it’s always ok for you to take care of yourself first, as long as you are not intentionally hurting someone else by doing so. It’s ok to love a family member from a distance if that is what keeps “nice” on the table. You cannot control others behavior or force them to “be nice” But you can decide for yourself that it’s ok to surround yourself with the family that is “nice” to you and keep the others at a respectful distance. If by chance you find yourself alone, perhaps you need to re-access your definition of “being nice”, or truthfully, maybe you unfortinately drew the low spade in the family game. (Always call a spade a spade) If that is the case, then I tell you this, IF NOT BLESSED WITH A BIOLOGICAL LOVING FAMILY, THERE IS ALWAYS THE CHOICE- FAMILY YOU CHOOSE.