How many of us are raised to be nice? How many of us use words like “nice” to describe someone in a positive way? “She is so nice, she is always helping others”, “She is amazing, I don’t know how she finds the time, she never says no”.

I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband who, through example, has taught me the subtle but profound difference between being “nice” and being “kind”. Let me explain.

Whenever I thank my husband for doing something nice he chuckles and says “I never do anything I don’t want to do”.  Now to some this might sound selfish. And frankly, it is.  But how can you ever expect to show up in the world and take care of others in a joyful way if you aren’t taking care of yourself?I discovered a number of years ago that being nice was at the root of my overwhelm. It was the very thing that was causing me to show up in the world in a way that didn’t serve me, my kids and others I loved, not even the people I worked with. This is when I began a practice of being “kind’ vs being “nice”.

Now, let me make a disclaimer here: I am a “recovering” people-pleaser. I haven’t ditched the whole behaviour so as I share these tools with you, know that I am in the trenches with you, doing the work. Some days I can find my “kind” and rock it out of the park and other days, when I am really craving acceptance, NICE takes over in my head. The difference is, I notice it much more quickly now and I hold my hand through it.

The best way for me to explain the subtle difference between being nice vs being kind is to look at the motivations behind them.  The nice person is externally motivated.  In being nice I would find myself doing things to make others happy even at the sacrifice of my own well being. I was always worried what others would think of me and so, was constantly seeking their approval. Exhausting.

Kind on the other hand is internally motivated.  When I am being kind I recognise the importance of respecting myself as much as others. I can do for others as much as I like but not at the expense of my own well being.  I allow myself to be in the equation.

The Summary

Nice = Externally motivated, craves acceptance, fears rejection, becomes focused on the emotional pay-off that comes from pleasing others, feels exhausting, overwhelmed, and at risk to become aggravated by others, reactive.
Kind =  Internally motivated, natural compassion to do for others comes from a positive self regard and not the disease to please others, feels energizing, balanced and in the flow with those around you, you glow!
So let me ask you again, are you nice or kind?  Sometimes its easiest to sort this out by running through a event in your mind and seeing how you feel – its not what you do that determines this, it’s the intention with which you do it – and only you will know how you feel. Don’t let your sister in law or your co-worker or anyone tell you how you should feel. Ask yourself…”how do I feel”  – place your hand on your heart. Really FEEL it.

Your Tool: The Full Body YES!

Our bodies communicate information to our minds through physical sensations—think of feelings like butterflies in your stomach and goose bumps on your arms. All sensations in our body act as a feedback loop to inform us when something is in alignment and good or that we need to pay attention because its not.

To use the Full Body Yes as a tool:

  • place your hand on heart and take a couple of deep breathes to ground yourself
  • ask yourself the questions “Why do I want to _____” “How will I feel if I _____”  (internally motivated or externally? Nice or Kind?
  • kind..go for it, nice…decline, must do even though you don’t want to…see if you can shift your perception about the action

You’re going to need to love yourself through this if you are a people-pleaser. I know this first hand. BUT, you can do it!

Here is an affirmation to the “I can do it all” gremlins that live in your psyche. Stop and say to yourself,

“I can’t do everything and still be the person I want to be”

“I can’t do everything and still be the person I want to be”

“I can’t do everything and still be the person I want to be”

Period.  I like to remind myself how things go when I say yes to be “nice” vs ‘kind”.  For me this is a quick visit to “reactive Amanda”. Reactive Amanda gets aggravated and feels depleted….no fun! For anyone!

OK. You can this! If you need support or want to share how its going, please find me on Facebook, Instagram or email. It would be so kind of you to reach out!