12 simple principles on how to stop being nice and truly express your personality and be the real you, which sometimes means learning how to say no.
We have never learned how to speak in terms of our inner self. Ever since childhood, we have listened to others: parents, teachers, then colleagues, bosses, etc.
In order to survive and integrate, we were led to believe that we had to cut ourselves off from ourselves. Our mind has benefited from all the care and most of our upbringing at the expense of other aspects within us. Our intellectual understanding of things has therefore been fostered and encouraged, but the result is as follows.
First, we judge others at lighting speed based on a minimum of information.
Then we function out of habit with automatic thoughts in a universe of concepts and ideas. We operate on a binary system, one thing is white or black: I’m wrong or I’m right, zero or one.
Finally, we do not take responsibility for how we feel : I am sad because you…, I am like this because my mother…, I have no choice, etc.
In this traditional way of functioning, we cut ourselves off from our feelings and emotions. Because of modesty and discretion that has been passed on from generation to generation, we do not speak of ourselves and are not even equipped with the vocabulary to address the challenges that we face from within.
So, the first principle on how to stop being nice and to start being genuine: be aware of what you are experiencing.
Many people get caught up in caring for others and forgetting oneself. This torment that they inflict upon themselves to do well means that one day they are no longer capable of doing anything.
To develop awareness of what you are experiencing, the four stages to consider are:
Let’s start with the first one: observation.
Observing facts in a neutral way, without judging or interpreting is essential in learning to dissociate the fact from the emotion it elicits, and not to make any assumptions that one would take for the truth.
Use the game to express our feeling but express it without interpretation. For example, when you say I feel sad, worried, angry, etc., you are taking responsibility for what you are experiencing.
When you say: I feel betrayed and manipulated, you implicitly call the other person a traitor and a manipulator, and you remain in a scenario of victimhood, complaint, and conflict.
Assume that the other person is not there to meet your needs, not even your spouse, even if they can have an impact. Likewise, you don’t have to spend your life meeting the needs of others. And that even goes for your spouse.
Identifying your need to rest, to relax, to take the evening off, is choosing to never deny or disavow what you feel on the inside. Not all our needs must be met, but all of them must at least be recognized.
To meet your needs, formulate concrete, realistic, positive and negotiable requests. It is the negotiable nature of the request that creates the space for discussion.
Principle number two is to be aware of what the other person is experiencing.
Communicating is expressing yourself as well as listening. You have to let go of the fear of being yourself, like the fear of hearing the other person’s suffering and difficulties.
Empathy, aka compassion, is being cognizant of what you are experiencing, as well as what the other person is experiencing.
The four stages for practicing empathy are:
- Listen without doing anything
- Pay attention to the feelings and needs of your interlocutor
- Reflect the feelings and needs of your interlocutor by rephrasing them
- Observe signs of calming down and relaxing.
For people who cannot handle empathy, you can use silent compassion by simply being open and caring.
The third principle is the encounter.
When we function primarily on the intellectual level, what happens most often is:
- Missing out on each other
- Getting into a head-on dispute
- Not daring to show our true selves for fear of receiving verbal abuse.
But you cannot walk the path towards the other person without walking the path towards yourself.
The fourth principle is: be yourself and leave the opportunity for others to do the same.
We are called upon to match the expectations of others in order to be loved and liked. As a result, we know how to please people, how to be a good kid, a good father, a good colleague, or a good husband, but we do not know how to simply be ourselves.
By believing that we are responsible for the feelings of others, we feel guilty, yet we do not manage to listen to others.
To take care of someone is not to take responsibility for them. It is having confidence in the other person’s ability to get through it on their own merit. It involves confidence in one’s own skills.
The fifth principle is to be liked and loved as we are.
Let’s stop trying to match the expectations of others and ask others to match our expectations.
It is better to love your son as he is than to love him as you want him to be – for example, a brilliant person who should be an engineer – and to love his spouse more than their life plans together. But for that, we must develop a feeling of internal security dissociated from these social roles of good mother, good wife, good daughter, etc.
Let’s stop feeling threatened by our differences and those of others. Let’s stop being afraid of disapproval. Behind apparent kindness, there is often the fear of losing, the fear of rejection and the fear of criticism.
However, in order to have satisfactory and lasting relationships, we cannot do without truth and authenticity.
The sixth principle is: say no more often.
Obedience creates automatons, not responsible beings. Knowing how to say no is at the heart of four essential values: respect for others and oneself, autonomy, responsibility, and strength.
Practice saying no in easy situations so that you can then do it in more difficult situations.
Saying no in a constructive and creative way is also saying yes to something else. And it is also developing the ability to hear somebody else’s ‘no’ without taking it personally.
The seventh principle is: do not be afraid of conflict.
Behind the fear of conflict lies a need for emotional security. Am I still likable? Will they still like me if I don’t agree? However, conflict is also a tremendous opportunity for development.
The eighth principle is: manage your anger properly.
Expressing or hearing anger can seem difficult.
Anger is however a formidable warning signal on our inner self dashboard, the signal indicating that we must get ourselves into the intensive care of our own listening. Repressing your anger is essentially walking through a minefield. One day, it explodes, and it turns into an assault on someone.
Taking care of your anger consists of:
- Remaining silent rather than exploding, because if you explode in the face of the other person, that person will not be able to hear you out.
- Accept all your anger: accept that all the torment within us serves as an outlet.
- You have to be able deal with it head-on with the images and fantasies it conjures up.
- Identify unmet needs.
- Identify new feelings that may arise.
- Behind this anger, there can be weariness of a situation. And behind this weariness, a need for change.
- Express your anger.
Ideally you can express it only when the tension is released.
To be able to listen to the other person’s anger, try to be patient and practice empathy.
The ninth principle is to avoid disempowering language :
You have to, you must, it’s like that, I have no choice, I have no time, etc.
This disempowering language numbs the conscience and turns you into a robot. The burden is uncomfortable but all-too familiar.
Questioning one’s sense of duty and one’s habits, acting out of choice and out of the heart’s impulses can be frightening. Yet life is found right here in such displays of enthusiasm.
Moreover, see what and whom you devote your time and energy to. These are great indicators of your priorities, your choices, and the needs you decide to fulfill.
The tenth principle is: have purpose in your life.
We need to know the purpose of our life, the relationships, and the meaning.
If we don’t take care of our need to feel fully alive, we risk filling it in a destructive way.
The eleventh principle is: get rid of the punishment/reward system.
The old punishment/reward system does not create internal security and self-confidence. It does not work any better for a child’s upbringing than it does within companies. This system appeals to fear and guilt rather than enthusiasm and commitment. Of course, firmness is sometimes necessary. But can’t we be strong without being aggressive?
And finally, the twelfth principle is this : try to be self-aware without judgment for three minutes, three times a day.
Ask yourself this question: is there anyone inside?
Also, be grateful and express that gratitude for all your met needs. Gratitude is the vitamin of relationships.
Remember that violence is not the expression of our nature, but that of frustration. It expresses our unrecognized or unmet needs.
Conscious, nonviolent communication is a way of resolving conflicts that enables us to deprogram ourselves from the old system of violence.
There will be no peace in the world as long as man is not careful to cultivate his inner peace each and every day. This peace will then spread radiantly because peace is infectious.