Do Nice Guys Finish Last?!

Often, “YES”. But, if you are wise, “NO”. Let me explain.

You know you are a ‘nice’ guy or ‘gal’ if:

  • you are self-sacrificing and conscientious
  • you are hard-working and overly dutiful
  • you want to please people and you tend to defer to the wishes of others
  • you ‘grin-and-bear-it’ even if you see or experience injustice
  • you expend yourself for others at the expense of your own health
  • you are a rescuer
  • you are religious

While these qualities are often applauded, they are surprisingly dangerous. Drs. Minirth and Meier in “Happiness is a Choice” contend that the personality type the most likely to get depressed is the ‘nice guy’. Nice guys and gals make ‘helping people’ their business, but often they are driven by a need to be accepted and praised by others. When they don’t get the reaction they are looking for they face emptiness, frustration and even rage. In addition, they often are taken for granted or even abused because they are so willing to extend themselves.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter / CC BY-NC

As a side-note, I want to point out the difference between ‘niceness’ and ‘kindness’. ‘Niceness’ is me going along with what you say (even if I don’t agree or even if I feel it could be harmful). ‘Kindness’ is me giving consideration to your feelings and needs and then determining a fitting response (even if it is not the response you were hoping for). In this post I am pointing out the dangers of ‘niceness’, but I am sure that we all want to see more ‘kindness’ in our families and workplaces.

If you want to avoid the dangers of being a ‘nice’ guy or gal, what can you do? Here are 4 proactive steps you can take:

  1. Find your security in Christ– Knowing that God loves you thoroughly frees you to be able to say “no” to people when it is appropriate. Resting in His comfort and care frees you from yearning for the affirmation of people- even people who are not good for you. “You are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
  2. Trust God for complete healing– If you have been damaged because of your choice to be ‘nice’, take responsibility for the choice (that moves you away from being a ‘victim’). Also, understand that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). God is able to heal you and even to leverage the experience for your good and for the comfort of others.
  3. Courageously set boundaries– Structure your life and relationships so that you do not fall prey to the dangers of ‘niceness’ in the future. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3 ESV). Give yourself permission to consider your own well-being. Don’t worry- those around you will adjust to the new reality!
  4. Stick to your values and convictions– We all have to learn how to not cave in when people pressure us to compromise what is important to us. My grandfather, a WWII veteran, would say “That’ll put hair on your chest” (I realize this will not be desirable for many of my readers!). That was his way of saying that you will be a stronger man or woman for the experience because you faced pressure but would not back down.

May God deliver you from ‘niceness’ my friend!

Question: Have you ever struggled with being too nice? How have you overcome this problem in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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