Don’t Be Nice. Be Powerfully Good.3 min read

There is a big difference between being nice and being good.

Being nice is often a coping mechanism, an attempt to navigate the world more safely. We avoid conflict if we don’t see ourselves as someone strong, as someone who has the right to want something.

Being good, on the other hand, is a choice, an aspiration. It is spreading light around you, even when there is no direct payback. Being good comes from an insight that we are all one, and that loving your neighbor is like loving yourself. It comes from a loving heart.

Being nice may let the other person feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily help them grow. It just makes them comfortable, and comfort is often the enemy of growth. Instead, be good. Love can be nice, but love can also be tough.

Be Good and Confident, Peaceful and Powerful

Mean people are often very confident. It’s “nice” people who are not. In the name of niceness, politeness, and humility, they hold back their power—or believe they have none.

Niceness should be a secondary value in relation to confidence. When they conflict, choose confidence. It is pointless to be nice when it means hurting yourself. That is not sustainable anyway.

Confidence is empowerment. It’s the prerequisite for you to do good in the world. To be good but powerless is not very useful. We need to be powerfully good.

Good people need to be twice as confident as mean people. Otherwise, evil will be powerful and good will be weak, however full of helpful intentions.

Be peaceful and kind, but not weak. This is the concept of empowered peace, translated in the image of the meditating lion which I have used as a symbol for my work, and the cover of the Wise Confidence book.

Empowerment and peace are words not usually seen together, because they are considered opposite virtues. This is precisely why I have combined them.

Wise Kindness

The desire to be good and to serve others is a beautiful, generous thing. But we ought to be generous in a wise, mindful way.

Sometimes the way of forgiveness and tolerance is a wise choice because it can promote the best behavior in people. But sometimes forgiveness is unwise because it just makes people comfortable with their own toxicity. In such a case, the simple consequences of effective boundaries might be a better lesson.

If being kind is important to you, reflect on these key questions.

  • Are you kind because you need to be or because you want to be? In other words, is it a compulsion or is it a choice?
  • What will happen if you are not kind?
  • Is your kindness based on love, or is it based on fear?
Be Kind If It Aligns

Practice wise kindness, to yourself and others, in alignment with your values. Avoid actions, relationships, and situations that demand you to go against what you believe in.

If a seemingly generous act is not aligned with your values, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. You will resent it, and that makes the act of kindness pointless.

If a requirement for keeping a relationship is that you repeatedly go against your own needs and values, why would you want to stay in such a relationship? That wouldn’t be kind to yourself.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to live inside out in the midst of toxic people and messy human relationships is difficult—but essential. Learn this art by practicing the techniques described in Remove Toxic People and Set Boundaries.

Exercise

Reflect on these key questions.

  • What types of people does your aspirational identity have in his/her life?
  • How does your ideal self communicate your needs, wants, and opinions?
  • How does it respond to toxicity and crossed boundaries?

Remember your core values and aspirational identity when interacting with other people. Relate from that space, and your relationships will be an affirmation of who you are, rather than something that undermines your self-confidence and self-esteem.

For a deeper dive into these concepts, see Chapter 17 of Wise Confidence.

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