Picture this… You’re watching a pretty standard princess-centric cartoon with your bestie’s kiddos when suddenly the king enters his throne room. All his subjects immediately throw themselves to the ground, arms outstretched, foreheads and bellies pressed against the stone floor.
A few weeks ago, I realized I’d been doing the exact same thing in my own life. Being overly deferential, humble beyond reason, saying “yes” to everything and anything without examining the impact it would have on my life, and — all in all — just being way too damn nice. What’s worse, this way of being has just sort of become my standard operating procedure with everyone.
Until I channeled my inner Drake and thought, ‘Nice for what?’
KIND is great — and something I try to be as often as possible — but nice? What does “nice” really mean and who’s it really for? For me, nice is synonymous with laying on my belly.
With sacrificing, keeping quiet, and staying small. Not having any needs, boundaries, opinions, or desires. “Taking one for the team.” Meeting expectations, complying, making everyone happy. Not honoring my own agency. Always saying “yes” and never saying “no.” Prioritizing everyone else’s voice above my own.
Essentially, being nice means being a good girl.
But why? Why do I still find myself laying on my belly for pretty much everyone and everything? It’s actually really simple: For a lot of my life, laying on my belly was rewarded — with lack of conflict, with love and connection, with praise and validation. So, incredibly quickly, I learned how to lay down on my belly as way to keep the peace and earn the affection and affirmation I so desperately needed.
But no one ever taught me how to stand up.
And because I never learned how to stand up, standing up feels wrong and scary and laying down on my belly feels safe and familiar. Partly, I’ve been hesitant to stand up more often because I know that — sometimes — when you’re trying to shift out of old patterns and start showing up in your life in a different way, the pendulum can swing a little too far in the opposite direction. I’ve been worried that, in teaching myself how to do this new “standing up” thing, I’ll inadvertently end up being mean or bitchy or harsh. But eventually I just decided…
I’d rather stand up and risk doing it imperfectly than continue to lay down on my belly forever and always.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you struggle to stand up too. I know it’s not easy. But keep going. Keep fighting the good fight and doing your best to be kind instead of nice.
And if you ever get tempted to start laying down on your belly again, just crank up the Drake and ask yourself, “Nice for what?”