I recently read something that alternately disturbed, intrigued, and scared me. To risk sounding egotistical, I'm constantly told that I'm nice. Isn't it nice how I think of everyone else, only putting myself in the number one position when it's absolutely necessary? To me, this used to be a compliment of the highest form. Now, it makes me think.
Imagine this scenario:
You're a six year old child whose parents recently divorced. You're living with mom who was there all the time, but now has to work in order to make ends meet. Attention which used to be bountiful is now sporadic due to your new life situation.
The child is outside playing now, and sees a car pull up in front of the house. He realizes that it's company and thinks ..."that's great! more attention! more fun!" The child runs into the house bouncing with excitement. "Mom, mom....company is here! We have visitors! Isn't that great?" Mom responds with "Shhh, behave. Yes, it's company...but you need to be nice. Be quiet and behave." The door bell rings, inside the child is teeming with excitement, outside, he's 'behaving'. The visitor notes the child's behavior and remarks to his mother "What a nice little boy/girl you have here. He really knows how to behave." Then directly compliments the child.
Now, the child files this process away. I was really excited about a situation, and was reprimanded. When I behaved the way my mother wanted me to, when I was nice, I was rewarded.
In the child's mind, if he conforms to other's beliefs, does not stay true to his authentic self, he gets rewarded. He's a nice child, a good child. The more often this, or a similar scenario occurs, the more often the same message gets em
How many of us are not true to ourselves? We're good and nice, put other's thoughts and dreams before our own? We lost our authentic selves.
In reading this, I worried about how I raise my own children. Obviously, there are rules that must be followed in order for them to remain safe, and we need them to understand and respect their fellow man, but how do you find that balance? For me, I hope that the love and attention I provide when they are being their authentic selves, and also when they are "behaving" will give them the foundation they need to remain true to themselves.
The other part of the message that really bothered me is this:
It said that nice people are not to be trusted, they are not real. I took huge offense at this until I read the next line which said something to the effect of, nice people say yes when they mean no. They put other's first when what they really want is to be first, and offered a few more examples that hit home.
Then, it asked the question:
How can you trust someone who is not their authentic self? They are not being true to their own self and heart, can one really trust them?
For this woman who is so often called nice, it forced me step back and take stock. It made me realize that I'm not who you think I am, nor am I who I thought am.