This is something I’ve often told myself over and over. But a funny thing has happened in recent months. I started being compassionate toward the one person that means the most in my life…me! Instead of beating myself up for mistakes I make or my brain automatically defaulting to negative self-talk, the default has started to switch to positive self-talk. To reassuring myself that it’s ok. That I’m only human. That I’m still pretty awesome.
Other people tend to mistake my niceness as weakness. They think because I don’t choose to fight every battle, because I don’t walk around constantly asserting myself or even to defend myself sometimes that that’s a free pass to take advantage of me or talk down to me. That I’m somehow less than. And you know what? Up until recently, I probably would have agreed. I’m not saying I still don’t have room for improvement on standing up for myself sometimes but this is also just who I am. I’m a nice person. I don’t always think well on my feet. I have to let things sit in my mind and process. I pick my battles and I don’t generally feel the need to argue with someone just to stand up for myself or to prove I’m right. It’s just not worth it, especially with people who are just being negative or so focused on being right themselves.
I don’t prescribe to one religion in my life but one thing I do very much agree with is the Biblical reference to Jesus and “turning the other cheek.” People interpret this different ways I’m sure but I’ve always taken it as, no matter how hard others beat you down (slap your cheek), no matter how awful someone else may treat you, you just have to let it go and move forward (turn the other cheek). Again, that’s not to say not to defend yourself ever, but why waste the energy slapping someone back who clearly is negative and doesn’t have your best interests in mind, or maybe doesn’t even know you? I’d rather save my energy (and my hand) for something a lot more productive!
When my car accident happened, I became obsessed with this idea that I didn’t want people to think I was too nice. I didn’t want to be taken advantage of by the police, my car insurance, the hospital, anyone. So you know what I did? I wasn’t nice to a lot of people. I was angry and rude to a woman at Costco who had nothing to do with my glasses being messed up. I sent semi angry emails to my insurance agent so he wouldn’t think i was ok to take advantage of me. I got mad with the people handling my claim that were making mistakes. And you know how all that made me feel (the one guy really did a bit of scolding though 🙂 ) ? It made me feel bad. It made me feel guilty and it made me feel like I hadn’t been my true self.
I’m trying this new thing these days: self-acceptance. Not just in the form of self-compassionate thoughts, but of actually just standing up and saying “This is who I am and I’m not going to change it.” I’m not going to apologize for being nice. I’m not going to apologize for needing a good cry sometimes. I’m not going to apologize for not defending myself every time someone tries to tear me down and because I choose that, it doesn’t mean that I’m not confident or self-assured. I won’t say I’m sorry for taking the high road and for turning the other cheek. But first and foremost, I am definitely not going to doubt myself or think I need to change myself just because some people interpret my affability as weakness. That’s their problem, not mine. The people who matter and the people who care about me know that my niceness is just part of who I am and they love me for it. But most of all, I love me for it.