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Old 05-21-2014, 07:35 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,552 posts, read 4,416,938 times
Reputation: 11184

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I'm "nice." Too nice. I was raised to be nice to everyone, to "answer angry words with kind ones." (direct quote that was one of those "words to live by" that was drilled into my head and my heart). For decades I didn't really think about it; it's just who I am.

Only in the past several years have I begun to realize that sometimes being the "nice" person makes me the target for other people's crap. I've done a lot of soul-searching, read books about assertiveness and people-pleasing personalities, and have tried grasping that I don't ALWAYS have to be nice. But change comes hard.

Here is just one example, out of many in my life:
I had a situation last week, where a cousin with whom I've always been close, called me requesting a favor that I did not feel comfortable saying yes to. Actually, I KNOW I did the right thing to say no, and although that phone conversation seemed to go fine (she didn't sound angry when I told her no), she sent a nasty text message a few days later, and has now "unfriended" me and my husband on Facebook.

I am sick about this. I don't want our relationship to be permanently severed. Part of me wants to send a nasty response back, to stand up for myself and my decision, to "give her a taste of her own medicine," because the things she wrote were rude and hurtful. Another part of me wants to be my usual sweet self, try to gently explain why I made my decision, and try to "win back" our love and friendship.

I've actually been losing sleep over all this, and feeling sick to my stomach. SHE is the one who got rude first; why do I feel like I have to be extra nice and FIX everything? Sometimes I just wish I could "bite back." I find myself wondering, if I could respond back showing more backbone, assertiveness, and appropriate anger in situations like this, would the other person back down, realize she was wrongly rude, and the onus would be on HER to reconcile?....or would the problem and anger just escalate, and the door for reconciliation slam shut? That is, I believe, what I am afraid of in this kind of situation.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
42,821 posts, read 41,543,053 times
Reputation: 82349
Standing up for yourself does not HAVE to include being nasty.

It's natural to want to let someone have it when you feel wronged. But you can easily reply to her with rational, non-insulting words explaining your decision. It can be very satisfying to maintain your composure while being assertive. And this situation may not be fixable. If she's immature enough to unfriend you etc, she probably won't come around in a way you want.

Let them stew in their own juices. Sometimes that is punishment enough.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:43 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
1,823 posts, read 2,390,769 times
Reputation: 2665
I feel you. I grew up too shy, and too nice-always trying to please. I was taken advantage of by a few people. Especially with money. I feel like once I was able to recognize the fact that it's OK to stand up for yourself, to learn to say no, life can be a bit easier lately. I may not have a ton of friends, but the few that I have are the good ones that matter. When you learn to say no, you may lose some people who were once close, but those people may not have been worth it anyway.

Here's my suggestion. Don't just flat out ignore your cousin. I wouldn't send a nasty text back either. One thing I have been learning lately is that you don't always know what's going on in that person's life that may have made them send that text. Perhaps your cousin was having a bad day, or perhaps she didn't realize it seemed nasty. I would suggest calling, or if you feel more comfortable, texting or emailing, and asking her what's wrong. You can say something like "Hey did I upset you?" see what she says. Again, if someone can't give you the time because you won't allow them to take advantage, they are not worth it.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:57 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,552 posts, read 4,416,938 times
Reputation: 11184
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrsydevil82 View Post
I feel you. I grew up too shy, and too nice-always trying to please. I was taken advantage of by a few people. Especially with money. I feel like once I was able to recognize the fact that it's OK to stand up for yourself, to learn to say no, life can be a bit easier lately. I may not have a ton of friends, but the few that I have are the good ones that matter. When you learn to say no, you may lose some people who were once close, but those people may not have been worth it anyway.

Here's my suggestion. Don't just flat out ignore your cousin. I wouldn't send a nasty text back either. One thing I have been learning lately is that you don't always know what's going on in that person's life that may have made them send that text. Perhaps your cousin was having a bad day, or perhaps she didn't realize it seemed nasty. I would suggest calling, or if you feel more comfortable, texting or emailing, and asking her what's wrong. You can say something like "Hey did I upset you?" see what she says. Again, if someone can't give you the time because you won't allow them to take advantage, they are not worth it.
She definitely knew she was being nasty. And originally I chalked it up to her having a bad day, but then I happened to be talking with her brother, who said she is doing great, he talked with her several times this week and she sounded the happiest she's been in a while, etc., so I believe I am correct in taking it personally. Also, I have sent a couple of nice follow-up texts (thinking of you, wish we could clear up this misunderstanding kind of text messages) but they have been ignored.

My "niceness" is, once again, getting me nowhere. This seems to be my pattern. The ruder someone is to me, the more I try to be nice. Just once I would love to try being the rude one, and have the other person be extra nice to win ME back. (Not really, but it is tempting to see if it would work. It's just not in my nature though).
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
16,291 posts, read 10,286,132 times
Reputation: 28326
hey, when you stand up for yourself, people are going to try to lay a guilt trip on you. Don't let them. if you feel comfortable with saying 'no' then 'no' it is. Period. No apology needed.


your cousin sounds pretty vindictive. Her problem, not yours.

Also, standing up for yourself isn't rude.
Changing will take a lot of strength on your part, and people are probably not going to be happy with the new you. Only question is, are you?

I was raised with the attitude: if you act like a doormat, don't complain about getting stepped on.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:44 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,552 posts, read 4,416,938 times
Reputation: 11184
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAhippo View Post

I was raised with the attitude: if you act like a doormat, don't complain about getting stepped on.
Yeah, I can see where that would lead to a strong, assertive personality. I was raised to be very compliant, never question authority, put others' needs ahead of my own, make everybody happy by being a good quiet little girl.

And on this rare occasion that I actually spoke my heart and said "No," I got hated on. NOT helping me on my journey out of door-matted-ness. If it weren't someone I cared about so much, I could deal with it better.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:57 AM
 
Location: California
4,539 posts, read 5,450,964 times
Reputation: 9561
I hear you!

I went from being a doormat to the other extreme. So, as that didn't work, I found that by starting with "I would love to baby sit your ten kids for free again this week, but I do have a prior commitment" sometimes softens the "no". Stand your ground but also be true to your self and don't hurt someone's feelings... if possible. Sometimes, I will try to offer alternatives for the caller but the bottom line is still ....NO, I can't accomodate you (again). Your cousin is using manipultion to punish you for not doing what she wants...move on.

If any friend bases their friendship only on what you can do for them, I promise, they aren't worth the time to write about it or waste the cyber space! I'm sorry your "friend" has treated you poorly but no matter what, don't allow her to drag you down to her level. Be strong enough to let no one steal your happiness.

Here is another thread that sums up friendships pretty well. We are probably more alone than we realize.
getting older and having less friends?

Last edited by Heidi60; 05-21-2014 at 11:17 AM..
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:00 PM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,552 posts, read 4,416,938 times
Reputation: 11184
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi60 View Post
I hear you!

I went from being a doormat to the other extreme. So, as that didn't work, I found that by starting with "I would love to baby sit your ten kids for free again this week, but I do have a prior commitment" sometimes softens the "no". Stand your ground but also be true to your self and don't hurt someone's feelings... if possible. Sometimes, I will try to offer alternatives for the caller but the bottom line is still ....NO, I can't accomodate you (again). Your cousin is using manipultion to punish you for not doing what she wants...move on.

If any friend bases their friendship only on what you can do for them, I promise, they aren't worth the time to write about it or waste the cyber space! I'm sorry your "friend" has treated you poorly but no matter what, don't allow her to drag you down to her level. Be strong enough to let no one steal your happiness.

Here is another thread that sums up friendships pretty well. We are probably more alone than we realize.
getting older and having less friends?
THANK YOU for the link to that other thread! It was full of wisdom and helpful insights! I think a lot of my "people pleasing" tendencies have stayed with me because I feel like I should have more friends (like I did decades ago in college). I've struggled with thoughts of "What is wrong with me?" because I have only two or three really close friends (and thankfully, one of them is my very dear, sweet husband). I was shocked reading that thread, that most posters have just a couple of close friends. I need to start contemplating the fact that, perhaps, there is nothing "wrong" with me at all!....that it really is a rarity to find people to truly connect with on a deep level. The fact that we move to a new city every year or two doesn't help.

I also found it interesting that many of the posts on that thread were about lending money, which led to lost friendships. The favor that my cousin asked of me was, indeed, to loan money. She told me during this phone call that she is a gambling addict and had just lost an enormous sum at a casino, and now could not pay a delinquent tax bill. (I already knew she was having financial issues and was going through bankruptcy, but did not know she was a GA). EVERY website I read about gambling addiction said NEVER give or loan money to a GA. My husband and I talked about it, and truly believed it was not the right thing to do. I truly believed that saying no was the more loving, helpful thing to do. She has been on my mind day and night, I have been reading everything I can about GA, and have tried offering words of encouragement, but she said I was being "patronizing" and that I "refused to help." It hurts, as I love this cousin very much.

At this point I don't know if I should maybe send a hand written note of concern, or just back off for a while (leaning toward the latter since that's what she indicated she wants).

Wow, this thread is about so many different situations: people pleasing, loaning money, gambling addiction, estrangements, and having very few close friends. But they all are intertwined in my current situation.
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:01 PM
Status: "Be yourself. What's the alternative?" (set 3 days ago)
 
8,607 posts, read 10,796,737 times
Reputation: 12614
To the OP, it comes with age. I'm a recovering niceacoholic. It was my Catholic school upbringing and other things, as I see it now, that created it. Yes, you do become a target when you're too nice, or rather than "nice" I'd say when you're too compliant. Nothing wrong w/ politeness, kindness, but compliance for the sake of it, avoiding conflict, etc. is just something that will make you sick!
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9,094 posts, read 8,241,145 times
Reputation: 19662
She screwed up and she knows it.

Ignore her and she'll come crawling back.

Don't even ATTEMPT to help her with her problems. She's an addict, she'll lie, cheat, and steal to get her way.
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