To be nice without pleasing

“If your life/joy depends on others, then you are at their mercy. The control then lies with the other. Is that what you want?” 

My experience

In the years leading up to my burnout, I had started to act like a nice man. Friendly to everyone and always willing to help others. Someone you can rely on and who was there for everyone. Who was always there, who was never too bad to help and where you could always go to. Who thought about your problems and sometimes even solved them for you. Completely free and for nothing. 

I had developed this mechanism of being nice to such an extent that I identified myself with it. I thought it was a good fit for me to be a nice person. In fact, I thought it was powerful and it felt good to be nice. The idea that others needed me was something I liked. At one point, I didn’t even realize I was working on this anymore. At first, there didn’t seem to be much wrong with that. Just being nice, that was fine and sometimes powerful. But in my case, it went way too far. I was involved in every opportunity to be nice.

So with each/ every: 

birthday (also from people who were further away from me),  

division of tasks and lessons (even though I got the heavy classes) 

family day (also from people I didn’t like) 

job of others (there are handymen, hire them) 

quarrel between colleagues (which didn’t really concern me) 

appointment, which did not suit me well 

conceivable problem of others 

I felt responsible for that. To solve the problem and otherwise give the other person the space to use me. Just out of kindness. 

This behavior caused me to start twisting and turning to please others. I liked the feeling of being liked and needed. At the expense of myself, I conformed to the wishes and expectations of others.  

My psychologist described me as a pleaser. Someone who lived on the approval of others, at the expense of himself. At first, I didn’t understand it very well. Being nice is good, I thought. What’s bad about that? It took me a while to understand what she meant.