You Do Not Owe the World Your Niceness

14/06/2016 16:46 | Updated 14 June 2016

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

That's a quote I came across the day.

It is one that I wish I'd come up with myself. It is one that has stuck with me and not only that, but has definitely given me a bit of a jolt.

It may sound crazy, a bit bonkers or even unbelievable to some of you reading this. But it's taken me 36 years to realise that I don't have to be nice all of the time.

Not anymore.

That I don't have to be nice to people who aren't or who haven't been very nice to me. That I don't need to suck up people's shit, ignore it and still be nice to them. That I don't owe the world and everyone in it, my niceness.

Do you know what I mean?

All of my life I have lived by the motto, that it's better to be nice than not. And I still stick by that, mostly.

But over the past six months I've found myself in two really unpleasant situations - with people whom I have genuinely cared for - and it's made me realise that I've taken this wee motto way, way too far.

One experience? Well I guess you can chalk that up to bad luck.

But two? In such a short period of time? Well it has really made me question myself. And if there's a silver lining to come out of these situations it is this; I've finally realised that by being 'nice' to those people who didn't deserve it, I haven't been very nice to myself.

Since being a tot, I have always been told to be nice to others. To be quiet about unpleasant behaviour and to keep my opinions to myself.

I can understand why. I'm sure you can too.

I think most of us get it, that you may give out these kind of messages as a parent, because you want your child to grow up being a good person. That you don't want them to offend others or 'be a handful'.

But I can see now the harm that this has done. I can see now how it skewed my thinking.

And these messages came not just from my mother, but from society too. Because women are always told to be nice, are we not?

To be quiet, obedient and look pretty. And if we don't? Well, we all know what happens then...we suffer the consequences.

And so over the years, this 'always be nice' message has meant that I've tolerated some truly dreadful behaviour from others.

I've ignored slights, put downs and sarcastic comments. Silenced my gut instinct. Allowed others to cross my personal boundaries. And caused myself nothing but pain, drama and misery in the process.

How silly! How pathetic! How bloody sad ey?! To let other people treat you so badly, in the name of nice.

And the thing is, I absolutely do not blame the people who have purposefully gone out of their way to attack me or badmouth me to others.

I blame myself. Because the clues were there all along. What they thought about me. Who they are.

Their behaviour raised many alarm bells. Their words - both spoken and written - often raised red flags. Their intrusiveness and demands always made me uncomfortable.

But I ignored it all.

I continued to be nice.

I felt certain that I should always try to do the right thing.

I chose to see the good in them but to ignore the bad.

I wanted them to like me.

And so I let things slide. I kept the peace. I carried on trying, caring and putting their happiness and feelings above my own.

Until that is, my limits were reached.

Until, I realised recently that that I really don't have to be nice to anyone or have anything to do with anyone, who makes me miserable or causes me pain.

That it's OK to say 'enough is enough' and move on, as long as I do so kindly and with no nastiness.

It hurts when people go out of their way to hurt you, doesn't it?

It's soul destroying when you've trusted someone, only for them to turn against you. And it really, really stings when you find out that someone has been busy bad mouthing you to others.

But how much we put up with it, is down to us. How much we tolerate, is our call.

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

It's taken me 36 years to realise this truth. 36 years too long.

Yes, it's nice to be nice, that is true.

But it's also important to remember ... that you and I? We owe the world no-one's happiness, but our own.

Katie Portman writes Pouting In Heels, an award winning parenting and lifestyle blog. You can sign up to her weekly newsletter here, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.