Most women who consider themselves to be sensitive or empathic have one trait in common: they have been labeled as “nice girls.” I was no exception. I wanted to keep everyone happy. I said “yes” to things I didn’t want to do, even though inside my head I was screaming “no!” Would I take on this project? Sure! Will I watch your 3 kids on my first day off in weeks? No problem! I wanted people to like me. I didn’t want to make waves. But inside, I seethed. In essence, I didn’t have boundaries.
When there aren’t clear boundaries, people can and will walk all over you. It’s not always malicious either.
In essence, we have trained them how to treat us. So how do we re-train them? How do we create boundaries that feel aligned with our Higher Selves?
Let’s start with examining the word “nice.” What if we substitute the word “nice” for the word “kind?” There’s a whole different vibration to the word “kind.” Kind always feels good because it comes from a heart-centered place. Nice often feels like we’re selling ourselves out because we’re doing something for others from a place of fear (i.e., “If I say ‘no,’ they’ll be mad at me). I’m not saying we should put a bubble around ourselves, impervious to the wants and needs of others. What I am saying is that when doing for others, it should feel good, inspired, and come from the heart—not from the scared voice inside our head.
The next time someone asks you for something, check-in with yourself. Do you feel energized by it? Or do you feel instantly drained at the mere suggestion? Are you coming from a heart-centered place or a place of fear? Make the decision that feels good. This will take practice because, most likely, you’ve been on “nice girl automated pilot” for years or even decades. Each time you honor yourself, it gets easier and you strengthen your boundaries.
Sure, it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. When that first “no” or “sorry, I can’t” tumbles out of your mouth, people won’t expect it. There may be raised eyebrows, incredulous stares. Pay no mind and don’t make apologies or excuses! The more we try to explain our reasons for saying “no” the closer we slip back to saying yes to something we don’t want to do. It’s going to be scary at first. Your inner voice will do its best to get you riled up.
Shedding your “nice girl” persona won’t be easy, but the pay-off is worth it. You will feel your self-respect soar and you will notice that those around you respect you more as well. Now when saying “yes” to a request or invitation, it will feel great because it’s what you truly want to do, with no reservations or second-guessing. When this happens, you are not only honoring yourself but giving others the genuine gift of your time and presence.