When niceness, self-control, and empathy are the problem

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
~ T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Last year I wrote a bit about the difference between nice and kind. It’s a topic that hits home with a lot of women (and men), especially those of a “certain age” who are trying to (re)discover themselves.

If you feel that you are at times too nice, too much in control of yourself, and too empathetic, be sure to read this post (from the blog An Upturned Soul) on how these otherwise positive traits can a problem when it comes to friendships and other relationships:

Niceness. A willingness to compliment others and a reticence to criticise. A tendency to promote the positive traits of others and to overlook anything which might be negative. A desire to put the pleasure of others before your own. You make the needs of others your priority over your own needs. To please. To do what others want to do. A need to be liked and a horror of being disliked… Read more

The takeaway?

Be yourself. All of yourself, the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the positive and the negative. Embrace it all into one. Only you know who that is and how to be you. That’s your gift. That is what makes life worth living. And don’t forget you’re a human being… mistakes are a part of that, make them, learn from them, regret them, and be kind to yourself, even when you’re not.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Being and embracing “all of ourselves”—especially after a lifetime of being only part of ourselves—can be not only difficult but downright terrifying. This photo of an adult female Phidippus mystaceus jumping spider is much closer to what I feel like at my core than to the smiling profile photos that I—that we all—present to the world. Isn’t she beautiful?

Adult Female Phidippus mystaceus Jumping Spider, photo credit Thomas Shahan
Adult Female Phidippus mystaceus Jumping Spider. Photo by Thomas Shahan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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