I am a recovering codependent.
Growing up I was a “good little girl” – cooperative, compliant, sweet, quiet; the kid that gave her parents nothing to complain about. As a teenager I became a perfectionist. I got good grades, never smoked or drank alcohol, didn’t rebel. I avoided conflict at all costs.
I allowed others to make decisions for me. When someone offered a choice, I’d hand it right back to them – “Whatever you want is fine.” My feelings and desires were not as important as others.
I dared not ask for my needs to be met. I’m not sure I even knew what they were. My focus was “out there,” not on me. There was a great need to be liked, so I did what they wanted.
Underneath I wondered: “Am I good enough? Do others like me? What can I do to please them?” I was afraid to disappoint or let others down. When my mom was upset with me, the most feared comment was “I’m disappointed in you.” Thinking about it now even gives me the shivers.
You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? What’s wrong with thinking of others? Why is it unhealthy to be too nice?”
The answer: Because your life has no balance. You don’t develop a sense of identity. You don’t know who you are or what you like. You don’t receive, you only give. There is no reciprocity. It’s not fair.
I ended up in relationships with guys who loved to “take.” What a perfect match – I give, you take. Codependents usually end up with narcissists. Problem is that eventually a person who gives in all the time starts to resent not having their needs met. That resentment quietly grows and creates distance between couples.
Lucky for me, I did my therapy and recovered before I met Bob. Recovery took a long time. It’s hard to break the pattern of being “too nice.”
Here are the tips that helped me recover from being too nice:
1) Give yourself permission to do what you want.
Next time there’s a place to go, take the lead. Trust that your partner will be happy to go where you want to go.
2) Learn to say no.
Not an easy thing to do when you worry too much about what others think of you. The person on the receiving end may be upset, but they will understand. They likely say no to things they don’t want to do.
3) Discover what you like.
Put the focus on yourself for a change. Try new activities, new foods, new TV shows; figure out what you like.
4) Work on your self-esteem.
Find what you like about yourself and feed that. Use affirmations. Read or do a workbook about gaining self-esteem.
5) Face the fear.
The hardest part about changing codependent behaviors is the fear that you won’t be liked, that you will disappoint someone, that you won’t be perceived as the super nice one. That may all come true, but the people who really care about you will relish in your growth and development.
So, there you have it. Being “too nice” is not such a wonderful quality. What I’ve learned is that give and take relationships are much more fulfilling, and your partner will love and respect you for who you truly are.
If you are in a relationship that hurts and feel disconnected, have difficulties communicating, and/or are experiencing a crisis, Bob and I can help. Call us at 410-363-2825 or email email@example.com.
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