Affirming others doesn’t mean belittling oneself

I remember an episode of Frasier where a caller with low self-esteem asks the good doctor for advice, and was suggested ways to act more assertively. Subsequently, he calls in again, only to complain that now others feel he’s “too damn arrogant!”

Granted, this may be a case of going to extremes, but I’ve often wrestled with the issue of being the nice guy.

Do nice people really finish last? Are nice people really more likely to be taken advantaged of?

Is the dirty little secret that when people say you should always be nice, it’s only because they want to take advantage of you, but the moment you try to be assertive to protect yourself, they have no qualms labeling you ‘not nice’?

If the price of protecting oneself from being a subservient doormat who gets exploited is being labelled ‘not nice’, then I’ll gladly pay it. For too long I’ve lived under the constant fear of ‘what if people think I’m not nice?’, to the point where other people’s feelings take priority over my self-esteem. No more.

Of course, no one wants to be “too damn arrogant”, but surely a balance must be struck, where you don’t have to belittle yourself to affirm others?


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