Being Too Nice Can Contribute to Depression

How Being Too Nice Can Contribute to Depression

By Elzbieta Pettingill

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

There is such a thing as being too nice, too giving and too caring. To overcome depression you must stop the habit of bending over to gain people’s approval. I know, it’s easier said than done. But no one said it’d be easy.

Those who are affected by depression tend to be people-pleasers. And yet, ironically, quite often their actions are viewed by others as selfish and self-centered. For over three decades I believed in that crap myself. I believed I was selfish and self-involved. I was convinced I had nothing to offer. I also thought that it didn’t matter what I thought. That my opinion was less important than anyone else’s. It seemed as if I was always living someone else’s life.

Finally, after two major brain seizures caused by a suicide attempt, I stopped living someone else’s life and looked deep within…


Someone Else’s Life

I was the child who was “too young to understand things” and therefore to make decisions. My life was run by the grown ups, who weren’t able to see the serious damage caused by the primitive belief such as; “children should be seen but not heard.” Then later, I became an young adult, clinging to any guy who’d find anything whatsoever appealing in me. At that time my looks seemed to have the only value in the eyes of others.

I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t who I am. I was a “slave” to anyone who was willing to have me in their life. The fear of rejection always steered my thoughts into the direction that led others to benefit from it more than I did.

How tiring was that!? How exhausting it is having to constantly put others before your own self! And how little reward you get at the end of it…

All this, so you can can keep deluding yourself that someone cares about you, at least enough to stick around. For a while, at least… ’til they get tired of it.

Then what do you do when the inevitable happens and when they leave? You blame yourself, of course. Consciously, or subconsciously, your already low self-esteem gets reinforced. It spirals downward in a lightening speed and you get even more depressed, thinking that there is no tomorrow for you…

Well, there is. And it’s a bright one, too!

You’ve heard the phrase: “You teach people how to treat you” but you’ve ignored it so far. Maybe because when you did try to stand up for yourself it always seemed to have back fired. You might even had finally snapped and told others to fuck off, which they deserved to hear, only to find yourself being labeled as too aggressive and not “lady-like.”

Well dear, who the f**k gives a damn? Who cares what others think and, or say? Let me just remind you – it shouldn’t be you. There is only one person in this entire world whose opinion should matter to you, and that is YOU and you ONLY.

There is only one person in this entire Universe that needs your pleasing, and that person is you.

There is only one person who needs your caring the most, and yes, you’ve guessed it – it’s you again.

Being Too Nice Can Contribute to Depression - Alexander Pope quote (Difference Vice Virtue)

Just remember this: if you care too much – others will care too little… If you remain too available – others will always remain too busy for you. Without even being apologetic about it, people will always make you wait for them, making you feel as if your time is not nearly as valuable as theirs. You get the picture…

You will encounter resistance from those around you when you start making those long-overdue changes, but that’s OK. Have fun with it. See that sense of amusement on their faces and that sense of disbelief… Stare back at them without blinking.

Be prepared to deal with the consequences of having the courage to do what’s right for you. In your mind let go of the fear of not having that job in case your boss decides to fire you. Maybe it means it’s time to do something else for a living.

Be ready to let go of your significant other if s/he continues to refuse to treat you in a new, more loving and respectful way.

Make yourself OK with being alone for now. Make yourself comfortable with being with… YOU. Get to know yourself. Find out exactly what your needs and desires are and then become unstoppable in fulfilling them! Be selfish. You’ve been accused of it so many times before, now it’s time for you to show others (and yourself) how selfish you can really be! Show them that you mean business… 🙂

Renounce the guilt. Let go of it. Completely. It’s time to release it.

Be your number one. Be bold. Be spontaneous. Learn to be yourself in every situation and around everyone.

This is how you start to love yourself…

Previous articles by Elzbieta Pettingill:

About the author:

ElzbietaNow residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, Polish-born Elzbieta Pettingill is an author, former fashion model and survivor of depression. She suffered abuse and rape in her childhood, and was subsequently diagnosed with a depression that followed her from childhood through to adulthood. Let down by the medical and psychological establishments, Elzbieta finally realized that only she could change her mind, and finally overcame her depression in her 30’s through a process of conscious spiritual awakening.

Elzbieta’s story forms the basis of her book, “Life Realized”available here on Amazon.com.

You can connect with Elzbieta at:

Life Realized

An Amazon-bestselling book by Elzbieta Pettingill:

life-realized-elzbieta-pettingill

Despite what modern medicine tells us, depression CAN be overcome. Elzbieta Pettingill’s book Life Realized is a personal memoir in which she bravely shares her personal story of overcoming decades of depression and suicidal tendencies, naturally and without the help of the medical and psychological health systems that failed her (and so many others).

Elzbieta finally realized that only she could change her mind, and now ‘self realized’, she has learned to use her suffering as an engine to propel her towards not only overcoming her ongoing depression, but to understanding who she really is – and who we ALL are – on a much broader spiritual level.

Open, honest and vulnerable, Elzbieta’s account of her personal experiences, and the lessons she learned along the way, is both uplifting and enlightening. It is Elzbieta’s testimony that, no matter what life throws at us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter what, we are always loved… even if it seems to be the exact opposite.

‘Life Realized’ is available here on Amazon.

 


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  • Old Newy girl

    I can relate to this so much. I’m 52 and still trying to please everyone and worry what people will think of me if I’m not nice or happy or accommodating or beautiful or slim or a good mother or a good worker or want to do something for myself etc. Being the youngest in the family also and depending on people my whole life, I’m now single again but am crippled with indecision about everything to do with my life.

    • Fed Up

      Yes, I can certainly with all that has been written… I am 57 and still find it hard. Clearly still have a loads of work to do on being kinder to myself and not be a People Pleaser..
      People have such high expectations of me, but because of their own high needs and insecurities and because they don’t consider their own actions at all, I cop it well ENOUGH is ENOUGH… It will be all about me starting from now… You ain’t seen nothing yet!

  • laila abderrahman

    i certainly relate to that n have done all n more , n each time i ask myself in the harshest of ways, Whats the matter with u??? well there is nothing the matter with me i am who i am supposed to be, n where i’m supposed to be n doin what i was meant to do, i’m quite sure of that , n yep i started my journey just last week when i told my childhood friend the only sister i ever knew but not by blood, n i listened to her kaous she was spreading on to me yet again, n i told her to f-ck-off, sure i will miss her, but i’m done, i’m not here to make myself ok for anyone but me. i have always been alone even in a croud, but that’s ok because today i stand alone with me at my side n within me n i am now my best friend sister n lover!! today i am me, n i like it!!!

  • Marsha Arnold

    I am 36 years old and I married my childhood friend about a year and a half ago. We kept in touch over the years and one of the things that always frustrated me was how he would allow people to take advantage of his kindness. I would always tell him to stick up for himself and not be afraid to say no to people’s requests. I saw him go through severe depression to the point of wanting to take his own life because he felt like he was a bad person because people would get upset if he couldn’t help them or they would just quit calling or coming around once they got what they wanted. It just broke my heart to know that he could not see what a wonderful man he was, and that the problem was not him, but those around him. I was shocked one day when he pointed out that I did the same thing that I always got on his case for doing. I was always trying to be a people pleaser, bending over backwards for people, many of whom did not deserve it and in return all I got out of it was guilt, hurt and rejection. Wow! What an eye opener!! Well, we finally decided that it was time to stop always being available for others and spend more time focusing on our marriage and our children. It was time to stop feeling guilty and apologizing profusely when we have to tell others “no.” It was time to start feeling good about ourselves because we will always be kind people that love to help others, but from now on we will be helping those that truly appreciate our kindness.

    • Sunitha Srinivas

      Hi, I feel I am having many friends like me! So, coincidence! I remember from my 2nd standard I struggled to please others and for that I tried to be good. during last periods our teacher used to say who will sit quiet, they allow us to go home early. Unless my sister comes who’s studying in higher class than me, I couldn’t go. Knowing it well, I was maintaining silence. So, teacher used to praise me in class in front of all students.
      I enjoyed getting praised, but never realised, I slipped into silent mode, which no one likes afterwards of my life. Except teacher, nobody enjoy company of a silenter. So, I end up not becoming an interesting person, hence people not come closer to me.
      Totally, that hampered my oratory skills, I don’t attract people’s attention while talking. In group chatting, no one to listen to my voice. So, again I slipping into silent mode.
      But, one best side of me is, I have both the faces. If I said Yes, I see I take my life for others. there are chances when my mood is not good or something, that time I say ‘no’, let whatever people feel. So, I enjoyed by giving and being for myself.
      I decided I will not get marry when grooms demanded I should work, which I preferred to give more time to our child. I was also addicted to slow working spree, so managing both home and work is not possible, means, I have to give my personal time for that. So, I stood stubborn and I decided not to get marry. Even, dowry, giving birth to child will not be my choice and I have to oblige others even if I don’t like to have more than one child. So, I stayed unmarried and enjoyed being alone and very freedom and independent life since decades.
      I was also working for a NGO, so marriage will hinder me to give fully to my services. I become selfish by concentrating my valuable time to serve only few family members when it’s required for a larger masses. This feeling also supported me not to get marry.
      Since, childhood, I wanted to come up in life. It’s not that easy to fulfil my ambition. Lot of obstacles came in between, but, I stood firmly and did what all needed to come up in life like doing post graduation, other trainings/ skills, gaining knowledge while working etc.
      Then very lately I got married, but while seeing very limited I have to live and need to tolerate whatever people do, I could not stay not more than 8 months in my husband’s house, I came back listening to the call of my career. I am happy I am out of clutches of strong patriarchal atmosphere.
      Today, I don’t feel I missed one part of my life.
      I am happy being myself is really worth in life.
      Thanks, I feel now you all there with me. We are one community who need to come out of the prisons we live.

  • Marsha Arnold

    I am 36 years old and I married my childhood friend about a year and a half ago. We kept in touch over the years and one of the things that always frustrated me was how he would allow people to take advantage of his kindness. I would always tell him to stick up for himself and not be afraid to say no to people’s requests. I saw him go through severe depression to the point of wanting to take his own life because he felt like he was a bad person because people would get upset if he couldn’t help them or they would just quit calling or coming around once they got what they wanted. It just broke my heart to know that he could not see what a wonderful man he was, and that the problem was not him, but those around him. I was shocked one day when he pointed out that I did the same thing that I always got on his case for doing. I was always trying to be a people pleaser, bending over backwards for people, many of whom did not deserve it and in return all I got out of it was guilt, hurt and rejection. Wow! What an eye opener!! Well, we finally decided that it was time to stop always being available for others and spend more time focusing on our marriage and our children. It was time to stop feeling guilty and apologizing profusely when we have to tell others “no.” It was time to start feeling good about ourselves because we will always be kind people that love to help others, but from now on we will be helping those that truly appreciate our kindness.

  • Einelorelei

    I totally relate to this. =(

  • Beverly Durant

    I guess I won’t be depressed .

  • Dav O Rin

    Good thing is, and a good start, that you’re here, already started your transformation. Actually you won the race already, see it? ;), now what follows is just routine that need to be worked off, which means others will need to learn that your energy has changed. Take it slow. For some it will be painful, or strange, others may not understand, but just don’t worry about that, energies balances themselves as time is passing. Just keep it easy, things always go up and down, so changes will be felt. Start with doing things that you like, that relaxes you and lift up your energy, rest will come by itself. Genuinely best wishes to you 🙂

  • Cufie

    Thanks you so much for this article! Came at the right time in my life–brings me peace. At least I know that I’m not alone–I’ve really thought that it was just me! And I can say, that, I too was a child of the seen and not heard and the baby of 5 children. People pleaser and definitely codependent, to the point where it feels like some kind of addiction!

  • Joy Keeling

    The problem I have with this article is that it seems to assume that being nice is just done as an effort to please people. I am nice to people because I think it’s bad to be mean. It’s not an effort to get them to like me. It’s what’s right. Just because they’re mean jerks does not give me the right to behave like them. I am better than that and I will never stop being kind just to fit in to a solipsistic world. Kindness is not selfish, nor is it trying to seek approval. And I will not stop being kind just to cater to a world that tells me I need to think only of myself. Where the depression comes from is expecting that the people you are kind to will repay you with that same kindness. They will not. Ever. So don’t do kind things and be nice because you want other people to do kind things and be nice to you – do it because it is what’s right. The mentality described is what I see as the reason there is so little compassion in the world – all anyone wants to do is think about themselves and when they encounter nice people they encourage them to become selfish. How about instead of dragging nice people down to your level, you try to be a better person?

    • shauna

      Joy Keeling ,Your entire comment was the most hypocritical thing I’ve read in a long while, enough to make me reply. The only explanation I can come up with in your defense could be that you possibly did not read the same article as I did because you clearly missed the subject of this article, Depression. Did you read the part about depression? Did you read the part about her being convinced she had nothing to offer? That it didn’t matter what she thought? That her opinion was less important than anyone else’s? That it seemed as if she was always living someone else’s life? Did you read the part about the suicide attempt? Did you read the part that she was a “slave” to anyone who was willing to have her in their life? Or that she was thinking that there is no tomorrow ?…So your comment is to tell her “instead of dragging “nice” (that is certainly not referring to you) people down to her level, she should try to be a better person?!?!? You are off your rocker and clearly not AWAKE .

      • Juanita Juniper

        You are so right and I am replying to her message, too!!

    • Hedi

      Being nice to people and giving them all kinds of services is absolutely good. But thinking about yourself, being nice to yourself and giving all kind of services to yourself is a better trait. Those who cannot respect themselves, cannot respect others. Those who cannot love themselves, cannot love others. This article is not about those who are pleasing others because they have time and energy, but it is about those who are so busy with pleasing others that they hardly find some time to relax or please themselves.

      Also, Pleasing your own self, is not about being selfish and egocentric, pleasing your own self consists in always doing those things that resonate with you, and always acting in accordance with your high values, your high standards and principles. It’s about being true to yourself, it’s about being you under all circumstances, no matter the time of day of year, no matter if you are in the presence of your mother, your boss, children, friends, or the queen of England.

    • Juanita Juniper

      People who are depressed and unappreciated do NOT need to hear that they need to be BETTER PEOPLE. Geesh. You have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s shallow, close-minded thinking, way to matter-of-fact for this subject.

  • Vinayaka V Rao

    I dindnt really connect with the article completely.. If being selfish can help overcome depression, it will certainly bring other unpleasant consequences too.. One should be responsible and try to think of consequances before doing anything.. Taking charge of their action.. In short, one should live sensibly..

  • Alison Ussher

    I am amazed at how accurate this is for me in every word and sentence. I overcame this problem through meditation which taught me that everyone has their own journey we can’t change but can only be responsible for our own. Now I just focus on me and my life has changed in ways I never imagined possible. I always wondered if there were others out there other than me.

  • Sherin Tresa Paul

    You are not sick.. Just worried. No need to worry.. I’ve been there. Done that. Realized we can’t please everyone n it is not our fault they are unsatisfied. They have their own issues !! I majored in apology 🙂 I apologize for even their mistakes thinking that I may have caused it unknowingly. Making myself available for everything n everyone was my hobby 🙂 Recently realized.. You cant make everyone happy. There are people who will not be happy ..no matter what you do. Accept it. It all starts from acceptance. Accept it and move on with your life. Help the people who deserve it. Expect nothing in return. Dont forget to live your life. I am also learning.. Every single day. But thats ok 🙂 Smile..Read..laugh..listen to music..dance..sing.. Enjoy the little things.. Observe the nature.. Observe people.. Learn from them. Learn from your mistakes. This world is not fair..it will hurt you in unexpected ways. Expect that. No use in running away. Face it. You can do it. Life is beautiful. 🙂
    P.S – Have you heard about Dodinsky? His books are amazing.. Buy it. Read it every morning n evening. 2 books are there.. In the garden of thoughts and In the garden of Happiness. Buy both. Very helpful. I have a pdf.. But I will surely buy the book when I get a Job. 🙂

    • rowen

      thank you for your time..

  • Maria Mourad

    It’s irrelevant sir, these people who already sacrificed themselves for others Like Mother Theresa, Christ etc… they have already self value, they strongly know their mission on earth they have inner peace to guide and tolerate, they are icons we can always look upon & do our best to reach to their standard, these strong people who devoted themselves to public services They have the character to say no to things & yes to other things. Meantime in the above article they’re tackling a different category of people those who doesn’t know yet who they are, too vulnerable, to dedicated & to pleasant to others till they are taken for granted. these people are devoured by the greed of others simply because they are kind and too available, so others stepped on them, crushed them & consider them things they owe not human who has feelings & different opinion & because these kind & vulnerable people they don’t know their self worth each time they got crushed they lose themselves & their identity more & more. Hope I make clear, have been there & it took me long to stand here today & make the difference. thank you

  • You confused mercy and connivance.

  • Maria Mourad

    Dear Rowen, no you are not depressed you just care too much about people opinions & I believe social mirror is the only thing that you get your self worth through, and your self esteem needs to be enhanced. What you have to do is to ask yourself ” what will happen if you break a Glass of water in public place, fancy restaurant?” noise? chaos? yes but probably before you realize no one will be bothered any longer. That’s how you need to treat other’s opinion & you start to appreciate your own, because your own are originals, are yours, a thump print, very genuine, & who really doesn’t accept it is not worth to be in your life. Yes we make mistakes but that’s natural so we admit, we correct if we can & we move forward. Life is a beautiful place don’t spend it blaming yourself please. xxx

    • rowen

      thank you maria,,such a nice words.

  • Maria Mourad

    Dear Marsel, death is definitely such a devastating fact of life that we have to live with it, but what if I asked you to imagine that we are in a train, dead with us but in different compartment!! they can listen, they can feel and sometimes if we are strong enough they can communicate with us. God bless the soul of your friend and give you the strength to carry on with the small little act of love that u will do not only for yourself but for the soul of your friend.

    • Marsel

      I believe this too. Thank you for speaking to me especially in a kind way. I miss them, but do believe we can speak to them and sometimes see or speak to them in dreams. I spend so much time alone, and the only real thing I miss is the contact. I read once about how hugs are things that make your life both happy And healthy. I know I felt better when I had them in my life. Through it all, I still believe, somehow, things for me, and all of us, will improve. BB

  • TheHulksMothersCousin

    I find it difficult to balance as its in my nature to try to be a decent human being. What I call decent is thought of by others as being too nice but the problem I have is I don’t understand why people can be otherwise as it seems the natural way to be.

  • Maria Mourad

    Admitting what you just said above, tells me that you are stronger than you think about yourself, (you don’t know how most of the time we have the wrong idea about ourselves)
    A person like you is a warrior to live not to survive & it doesn’t matter to judge whether what you doing is good enough or bad, what really matters HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN, WHILE & AFTER doing it if you feel great, good or a breath of fresh air than it is more than enough, if others doesn’t appreciate it is their problem not yours because (we are responsible for action not results)
    Or try a different technique don’t bench mark others happiness on yours so ASK QUESTIONS LIKE:” would you be happy if I do this?” or ” I am willing to get you something so you better tell me what you need” or ” isn’t it nice to prepare a nice dinner what would you like to eat” etc… always ask questions
    And YOU ARE VALUABLE & MUCH WORTH you are original & there is no one like you each & every human in an icon.
    Much love & appreciation for your Courage

    • TheHulksMothersCousin

      Thank you so much Maria. You are very wise indeed. Love and appreciation back

  • Fang

    Oh my god. I just relived my past.
    You can be nice. We need to change our own reasons for why we are being so kind… Instead of seeking approval and feeling included in something it has to be because YOU feel good doing it. I still believe in kindness to strangers because it’s my absolute hope that it rubs off on people around me- but do so on you own terms. You can’t go running around being there for everyone and have no time to yourself. It’s just a set up for disaster.
    Be the nicest to yourself. You deserve it! ! 🙂

  • Thomas Panebianco

    im going to disagree… there is a difference between being nice and doing thing to get others approval…

  • shauna

    Exactly!

  • marta

    Just did learn this myself.. i read you some time ago and didnt understand and then in a time i did lerarn this tije in my own way.. its so nice to ready you now and understand! thank you very much and i hope that others learn immidiately without long way alone .. good luck and all love! m.

  • Jesus

    This is so true!

  • Zawawi

    Thanks, I can relate to that very well.

  • Kathryn Bresser

    I am so very grateful for this article. This put into words for me the reason I feel so bad all the time. I cannot enjoy anything in my life because I am constantly worried about other. The guilt is tremendous if I don’t do all I can for everyone who asks. I will start to feel bad and selfish, like I am not doing enough. This has drove me into very bad depression, and even brought on GAD, ,generalized anxiety disorder. I just find no matter how badly I want to say no, or I just am not able to do that right now, I do it anyway, it has been this way my entire life, I was taught to feel guilt at a very young age, and it has ruined my life… I have been to therapy for this, over and over, they keep telling me fix the world, but yet, I still feel like I am being a bad person if I don’t do what is asked of me. I try to stand my ground but guilt gets the best of me. IF anyone has any ideas how to help with this, I would be grateful. I am at the end of my rope here. Thanks so much for reading.

  • Maria

    Excuse me are you talking about me? It seems me yet 🙂 I’m 53 years old and all my life I was there. I feel bad but i’m trapped and I can’t go out. I can try over and over again and sometimes I get it but my pattern don’t let me.