Killing Us Softly: The Hidden Dangers of Coexisting in a Culture of 'Nice'

by candy barone Sep 27, 2023

I hate to be the bearer of bad news … but, the culture of ‘nice’ is not having the effect you think. In fact, it’s likely that the impact it is having is actually the opposite of what we believe and keep telling ourselves. 

And, it’s killing us (literally and figuratively).

First, let me start by sharing the origin of the word ‘nice’. You see, we live in a culture that conditions us to be ‘nice’ … when if we truly understood what being ‘nice’ is costing us, we wouldn’t be so willing to oblige.

In studying the etymology (origin) of the word ‘nice’, I found that the connotation of the word is actually far more negative than I even thought. From the late 1300s, it means: foolish, ignorant, frivolous, senseless. From the old French translation, it means: careless, clumsy, weak, poor, needy, simple, stupid, silly, foolish.

It was derived from the Latin word, ‘nescius’, meaning ignorant and unaware … literally translating into not-knowing.

Seriously, what!!!!!

And, here we have a culture that subscribes to it, expects it, and almost demands it, especially for women and young girls.

Let me tell you … I am more than OVER it!

Nice is a function of wanting to be liked, approved of, validated, and to be pleasing. It strips us of our power. It takes away our sovereignty. It’s a cry or plea to be accepted, for someone else to deem our value and worthiness.

Nice comes from a need to be accepted. And, we sacrifice a LOT in the name of being nice: our joy, our wellness, our time, our energy, our focus, our dreams, and our peace. 

Nice creates the busy in your life. You find yourself saying “yes” to things you know you really want to say “no” to. It steals your time, your energy, your passion, your light, your life, and the impact of your purpose.

And, it is making you sick, it not slowly killing you. 

Nice is the conditioning that leads you to shoulding all over yourself, and has you constantly twisting and bending yourself into an endless pretzel trying to be the person everyone else thinks you should be.

The culture of nice also is one of the driving contributing factors for Imposter Syndrome. When we are focused solely on people-pleasing others, we strip away your own sense of Self and lose sight of what is meaningful and important to yourself. 

In this, we often times devalue and minimize our own worth. 

[For more on Imposter Syndrome, grab a free copy of my ebook: How to Recognize Imposter Syndrome to Reframe It and Rise Above It

What do we want to practice instead? Kindness.

Believe it or not, kindness, on the other hand, is an entirely different vibe. It’s actually a completely different energy. It’s a higher frequency coming from a place of self-worth and personal power.

Whereas, nice is a lower frequency energy, kind is one of the highest frequencies of energy we can live in. It comes from a deep place of love: love for oneself, love for others, love for Source. 

Kindness come from a desire to be of meaningful, impactful service. A place where we can fully tap into our gifts and light, and be the purpose of who we were designed to be. One in which, as Brené Brown says, “

“We need to learn to belong to ourselves first.”

Belonging is not the same as being accepted. Belonging is an intrinsic space of feeling safe, at home, and as if you can show up in the Truth of who you are. Belonging brings with it a feeling of emotional security, a knowingness, and a space where we can be grounded and centered within our own being and being-ness. 

Acceptance, on the other hand, is nothing like that. It is fleeting and requires us to shift our power outside ourselves and of our own sovereignty. Acceptance is the desire to ‘fit in’ and to be seen as everyone else. This, in and of itself, is the problem. It takes you aways from being YOU. We were not meant to fit in, or to be the same … we are meant to stand out, to shine our light and share our unique gifts. 

For each of us is a piece of the Cosmic Puzzle & Plan … we bring something new and different to the table. We are here to do our part, to be our part. Seeking acceptance dims that light. It robs us of our purpose. 

We also need to acknowledge that we are not meant for everyone. Nor are we meant to be who others think we are. Honestly, you could ask five different people in your life who they think you are, and each of them would have different things to say. Especially if it serves their agenda. 

Why is that, you might wonder … because the gifts we have to offer impact everyone differently. Each of us tells ourselves a story, a narrative. And, from that narrative we create a cast of characters we meet along the way in our own hero/heroine’s journey. In those stories, we represent the who that person needs us to be in order to make that story real for them

It’s why I love the meme that says:

“I’m happy to be the villain in your story, because you’re the clown in mine.”

How someone else values you is none of your business, to be frank. How you value yourself is all that matters. You get to decide. And, you must decide. The culture of being nice stops you from doing just that.  

Another quote I use as a personal mantra to remind me of where to put my focus and energy is from the late, great Betty White:

“Someone’s opinion of you is none of your damn business.”

Exactly! Can I get an amen up in here? 

Being nice robs you from being the real YOU. It’s waters you down. It dilutes your magic. You end up holding yourself back, as a result, due to feeling either ‘not enough’ or ‘too much’ … or, sometimes you find yourself vacillating between both at the same time. 

You ‘not enough-ness’ stems from comparisonitis and operating daily in a culture of nice. You are allowing others to determine your sense of value and self-worth. Your ‘too much-ness’ stems from listening to the people behind you, the cheap seats, and the peanut gallery … from those people who are content in holding themselves back, and your light triggers them. 

Because the reality is this: no one ahead of you is criticizing you. Read that again. NO ONE AHEAD OF YOU IS CRITICIZING OR JUDGING YOU. 

That’s right. Those who are a step ahead of you are doing their own work. They are focused on how they can create greater impact. They are living from a place of service and are far more concerned with how they are showing up versus using precious energy to judge you. 

Also, it is human nature to judge. That being said, people are not giving the energy or attention you think they are. We live in a rather self-absorbed and entitled culture. Meaning, most people are obsessed with themselves. If they are judging you, they are doing so in regards to them. 

We all serve as mirrors for each other. We are either illuminating what we love about ourselves in others, or we are witnessing our triggers, shames, and areas for deepest healing. 

“What I see in another, I also see in myself.”

When it comes to really digging into this work, I love the research Brené Brown has done, and continues to do in this space. I also love that her body of work stems from the famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt entitled, The Man in the Arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The cheap seats are easy. It’s easy to judge and criticize when you are not willing to do the hard work yourself. It’s almost comical to see how many haters show up with their opinion, but when you really look under the hood of what’s going on, they have no merit to base their opinions on. 

Be mindful of who you take your feedback, advice and council from. I echo Brené’s sentiment when she says (with a few adds of my own):

“If you’re not in the arena (or ever have been in the arena) also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in (nor am I available for) your feedback.”

Period. Hard stop. 

The reality is that nice never got anyone anything, except for being frustrated and stuck … or, twisted into an endless pretzel knot trying to people-please others. You find yourself on an nonstop cycle of bending yourself to live up to everyone else’s version and expectation of who they think you should be, rather than tune in and listen to the whisper within. 

You miss the opportunity to listen to that whisper of your own heart and your own Truth. The whisper connected to Source and that knows who you truly are. It’s only when we drown out and quiet the noise outside (and inside … aka, our own narrative) that we can begin to really listen. 

Kindness, on the other hand, brings you back home to yourself. 

Kindness allows you space to breathe, to come from the fullest expression of who you are. It helps you create meaningful boundaries and limits. You can only create and serve from your highest and best level if you start with a cup that is overflowing. Kindness teaches you to fill your cup first. 

So, f*ck being nice. Stop handing your personal power over. Take your sovereignty back. Know that you have agency and choice. 

Choose YOU. 

And, learn how to say “no” … intentionally, powerfully, and consistently. 

Instead, strive to be kind. Kind is compassionate. Kind comes from a place a love. Kind is grace in action. Kind allows you to show up for yourself first, then offer your light and gifts in service to others. 

For, the world needs YOU, in your truth, in your love, and in your kindness.

Isn’t it time you stop being nice and allowed yourself to get aligned AF and be authentically who you were meant to be? 

For more, please follow me on Instagram: @candy_barone or tune into my podcast: Aligned As F*ck

Also, I am running a 3-day program called: Aligned AF & Authentically YOU to break down the very things, like the culture of nice and imposter syndrome, that are getting in your way, and to help you implement new strategies to rise into the badass you were meant to be. It’s on $47, and you can register here to join us:


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