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to wonder if being nice is really worth it?

(188 Posts)
Doodlecockaquack Thu 22-Aug-13 23:36:10

I am nice. I just am. I try to be considerate to everybody and their feelings, probably give the benefit of the doubt far too often, can't not help someone if I can and admire people who are kind and giving over those who are selfish. I don't think I'm better than anyone else, in fact I've never had a lot of confidence, and am acutely aware and harshly judgemental of my own faults and failings. I know I am over sensitive. I've even rewritten this paragraph several times because I'm worried about sounding smug/using 'I' too much/being too boring etc etc <Lost cause>

Anyway, my question is this: Are 'nice' people ever happier than not so nice, mean and/or selfish people who have more regard for their own feelings that those of others? Are things which I regard as 'selfish' or 'not kind' - e.g. making hurtful jokes at someone else's expense, willfully ignoring the needs of elderly/vulnerable relatives, little comments intended to belittle someone, pushing ahead of old ladies at bus stops (to name a few recent examples) - really that bad? It's starting to seem to me that people who are selfish/graby/mean to others etc, really do just get away with it and that you get no credit for being 'nice'.

A few examples recently have really shaken my confidence, and I'd really like to know what I'm doing wrong because frankly, I feel mortified and a bit of a mug...

- We recently got new neighbours, a young couple. Being a bit shy and not wanted to be intrusive, I wasn't straight outside grilling them. But, eventually, I quietly left the house to go for a walk as I always do with my DD and encountered and said hello to the mother of the girl moving in. She quickly told me who she was, and called her daughter over to say hello. Less than 5 mins of small talk ensued, during which she told me they were planning some work to the house which we have already had done. She said they had peered over the fence already to have a look (fine) and I said that if they wanted to come in and have a look they were welcome. A few days later, as I was in the front garden, the guy comes home. Similar hellos, about 3 minutes, no mention of the work, just general moving chat. Next day, clear as a bell because we both had our windows open, I hear the girl telling someone about me, saying I had held them both up for ages and joked about the sad local curtain twitchers. Not intended for me to hear I know, but hurtful.

- In a queue for the checkout, chatting away to my DD (2yo) whilst holding her on my hip (out of choice, because she loves to see the till) but with a trolly full, I notice a woman with only 2 items behind me. I smile and ask if she'd like to go in front. She does a funny chuckle and asks if I'm sure. 'Of course'. She hesitates, then says no, it looks like I've got my hands full. I reply I'm fine, I'm about to put DD down, I don't mind. She says 'now you're just trying to make me feel bad, I'll wait here'. I smile and repeat I don't mind, but it's up to her, but don't press it and turn my attention back to my DD. She's joined by her DH in the queue who immediately remarks on the time it's going to take to get through. They continue to huff and puff about how there aren't any basket only checkouts open, then talk about an appt they have to get to. I'm just about to be served at this point, so turn around and say one more time 'if you're in a rush, skip ahead, it's fine'. She replies 'make your mind up love. I'll stay here now and hope I make it... just get a move on yeah?'. They glare at me the whole time I'm packing my shopping (as quick as poss). Why be so rude? And why throw my good intentions back in my face?

- A friend of mine has recently had DC2, 12 weeks early, as I found out via facebook. We are not close friends, but met when our DD's were newborns (2years ago), and meet 1-2 times a month. I added my good wishes to the dozens already on her facebook, but I also sent her a private message, 3 lines long, putting myself at her service if they needed any help with their DD1 or a dog walker while the baby was in intensive care. Several other people (I don't know who they are), publically also offered support. Lovely, I thought, and a general message of thanks came from the new parents, along with periodic positive updates about the baby which were 'liked' by 50+ people, including myself... But a few days later, I got a reply to my message saying thanks for my offer but it wasn't my place to be 'muscling in' and that I needed to 'back off', of course they wouldn't let me look after their DD and that my interest in their lives was hardly appropriate- signed from friend and her DH. I was, and am, mortified, and just a bit godsmacked. I stress, I do not blame them in the slightest for reacting however the hell they feel like because I can't imagine the stress and worry they are feeling. I don't hold it against them, nor will I mention it if my friend ever speaks to me again. I'm just so upset to have caused them extra upset and mortified that I have done the wrong thing but I was only trying to be nice. Isn't that what people do in these situations?

In the last few months these things, but especially the last one, have really shaken me. I know it sounds indulgent and dramatic, but I feel so inadequate. I don't want credit for caring about others, but why does it so often turn into a negative trait? I'm not pushy, in fact, I'm shy and introverted. Would I be better off not giving so much of a shit, since my natural inclination to 'be nice' seems to backfire so often?

Obviously, I apologise for the length and wafflyness (is that a word!?) of this, it is another failing of mine wink sad I hope it makes sense to someone. Please don't flame me!

everythinghippie29 Thu 22-Aug-13 23:41:19

I don't really have anything useful to say but often feel the same way as you. As for your examples, I just want to give you a big hug. You sound nice and everyone else in those scenarios sound like royal tools.thanks

Stick at being nice, if it wasn't such hard work everyone would do it! The world needs considerate people like yourself. x

CleverClod Thu 22-Aug-13 23:52:42

Oh dear lord, I thought I'd come across some rude people, your examples are enough to make even a saint wonder why they'd bother.

I feel for you, I've had it happen too, time after time.

Continue to be the good person you are, don't bring yourself down to their level.

Amy106 Thu 22-Aug-13 23:56:06

Thank you for being such a good person. The world certainly needs kind people like you. As for some of the people in your life, I can only shake my head in sad disbelief. <shaking head sadly.> flowers

Jan49 Thu 22-Aug-13 23:58:26

OP, you sound lovely. Sometimes you'll come across weird people. Most people will appreciate being allowed in front of you in the queue when they haven't got much, being introduced to their new neighbours or being offered help with a new baby. Is there a back story to the couple with the new baby that would explain their reaction? It's very odd. I wouldn't be willing to carry on just being friends with her without a very good explanation - could it have been sent to the wrong person?

I think you're only a mug if you keep on doing nice things for people who take it for granted or are rude about it. Some people are takers.

I expect some people are happy whilst also being nasty about others. But I'd still rather be a nice person.smile

Doodlecockaquack Thu 22-Aug-13 23:59:38

Thanks smile I'm not saying I'm a saint, but I'm not a bitch either and don't understand what there is to gain from hurting other people's feelings. It's not hard work as such in that I don't try to be nice to be looked up to or for brownie points, I just carry on with my life being me, but that often seems to be somewhat lacking! Plenty of other people are nice people (my mum is my most influential example), but seem to do it better!

And I meant gobsmacked in my OP, not godsmacked grin

littlemog Fri 23-Aug-13 00:00:10

There are some appalling people in the world. Grabby, pushy, aggressive, rude and thick but sadly we all have to suffer contact with people like these. Your examples demonstrate this very well.

Be true to yourself and stick to your nice guns! Surround yourself with people who are lovely and who appreciate you. That way, when you rub up against tossers they don't hurt you so much. Remember THEY have the problem not you.

burberryqueen Fri 23-Aug-13 00:02:00

people are strange doodle, and you sound lovely and normal.
try not to let them get u down.

StudentFuming Fri 23-Aug-13 00:03:07

Blimey. I'm stunned actually and don't know what to say.

So o.p are you asking whether you think that there is anything about your behaviour that triggers people to react this way to your gestures?

1) Ignore the ignorant neighbours. You sound like you were being friendly and neighbourly. I would be happy to have neighbours being friendly if i moved to a new area. It is hard to navigate boundaries. Over friendly neighbours can be a bit scary if you have had bad experiences of intrusive neighbours in the past but these people sound a bit ignorant actually.

2) I always offer if someone behind me only has a couple of items. It's just polite. People do often seem a bit uncomfortable though but i will continue to offer!

3) Bloody hell, i don't know what to say about this! They plaster stuff all over facebook and then people offer to help THEN they tell you to stop muscling in? How strange. I would be very grateful for offers of help, even from people that I would perhaps not usually expect help from or was particularly close to. I would say something like Thanks lots for your offer, i think we are doing o.k and will let you know if we need anything. Polite response. If you see this woman regularly socially or at groups or clubs, this doesn't seem like an unreasonable thing to offer. I would just ignore this couple now.

I hope you can unpick it all a bit and perhaps be a bit less anxious.

Doodlecockaquack Fri 23-Aug-13 00:05:17

x posts with most. Jan, if there's a backstory, I don't know it, we are just meet-for-coffee/soft play then go back to our lives kind of friends. It's a possibility that it wasn't meant for me, but being a direct reply to my pm, it probably was. Perhaps her DH sent it (it was signed from both), exasperated with all the interest all of a sudden, I don't know. I certainly won't confront her or question her about it, she has enough to deal with.

Whoknowswhocares Fri 23-Aug-13 00:06:10

The only thing you appear to be doing wrong is mixing with vile, rude people!
You sound lovely. In every instance you did nothing to warrant the sheer nastiness you encountered.
My only thought is that maybe in an effort to please, you unknowingly come across a little too intense and insistent? Not in any way do i mean that as a criticism, though, so please don't think of it in any way as a that, but you perhaps need to learn to worry less about how others perceive you
Have some flowers. You deserve them

Doodlecockaquack Fri 23-Aug-13 00:08:19

Yes, I guess that what I am asking Student, in a long winded way. I think I must be missing something.

I'm shying away from being too harsh on my friend and her DH, I can't possibly know what they are feeling and don't feel well placed to guess.

Doodlecockaquack Fri 23-Aug-13 00:11:39

Maybe I do Whoknows, but I don't recognise it and don't honestly think so as it's the complete opposite of my true feelings and intentions.

These examples are spread over a couple of months, I live a rather dull life really!

Plus3 Fri 23-Aug-13 00:15:10

Ahhh don't worry smile you sound like me (& I really care about not sounding smug!)

Not sure about the 1st couple but if you are absolutely sure they were talking about you, then you really don't need to go out of your way to let them see your extension etc. Their loss.

2nd couple - she probably felt silly for refusing your kind offer, especially once her DP started moaning. Easier to be rude to you, instead of offering the truth to him.

3rd couple. Facebook. Pah. Dammed if you, damned if you don't ! They are probably really stressed & being a bit precious.

Carry on being nice - there are more people in the world who appreciated you, than those who don't flowers

runningincircles Fri 23-Aug-13 00:15:15

Be true to yourself and stay nice. I'm sure that your family and close friends really appreciate and love how kind and caring you are.
You sound like a the sort of friend that most people would like to have.
The rude and selfish people that you have encountered recently, do not deserve the same level of consideration in the future though. Still be courteous but don't go out of your way to be helpful to them, as they clearly don't deserve it.

Isabeller Fri 23-Aug-13 00:20:36

I am partially nice. It is a character flaw I recognise. No good deed goes unpunished. The road to hell etc.

Sometimes I have really mean evil thoughts though grin.

DP often acts nice. In reality he likes to watch horror films and dexter.

Have a cuddle OP bear hope you find some lovely RL friends who deserve you.

MariaLuna Fri 23-Aug-13 00:21:31

Yes, I am kind and considerate too and know that is how life should be.

However, I don't let people walk all over me - it's SO important to know your own boundaries.

Great quote I read (and have made my "mantra").

"I am in touch with my inner bitch" grin

ImNotABarbieGirl Fri 23-Aug-13 00:23:07

To be honest I do feel that being nice is over rated.
I Would love to be able to be assertive, selfish (sometimes) and put myself before everybody else.

But I'm not
Nice guys finish last.

Buddhagirl Fri 23-Aug-13 00:24:30

You sound lovely, I reckon your just having a bad run x

Doodlecockaquack Fri 23-Aug-13 00:28:05

Isabeller grin. And I'm with you on the evil thoughts. I might even voice some of them if judged witty enough to DH. But they are usually fairly ridiculous things, not true and heartfelt bitchyness!

Lilacroses Fri 23-Aug-13 00:34:59

Thank you for posting this Op, I have been feeling exactly the same in the past few months. It is deeply unsettling. I just cannot fathom that while some of us are constantly checking ourselves, trying to be considerate and give others the benefit of the doubt, other people are completely out for themselves. It's notyou, you sound really lovely. I think you've just been unlucky but I totally agree it does make you wonder what's the bloody point in trying to be nice when you just get constantly walked all over.

While discussing this with a friend today we decided that, if nothing else,, you can look back and know that you were kind and considerate and not feel guilty about being otherwise.

StudentFuming Fri 23-Aug-13 00:40:00

I really think it is 'o.k' sometimes to be selfish of have the odd grisly angry thought if someone is out of order. It's quite healthy!

Perhaps develop a bit of a radar and try to 'pick up' on whether people are worth your kindness.

I know that sounds awful. What i mean is that everyone deserves courtesy and respect but generosity and kindness aren’t always appropriate. Friendliness is great, but if you offer it it can get rejected as people don't always want it.

It's not about you PO, it's about them. You sound lovely and it's a shame people don't value kindness in the same way.

Just perhaps step back and observe other people from a distance for a while. See if you can put a bit of a filter up and screen your decisions to make kind gestures for a while. It'll help you examine whether it's right thing to do - for you - or for them. You can also perhaps start saying to yourself 'that person is rude' or even 'that person i behaving like an arsehole!'

I wouldn't describe myself as nice but...

1. I like that my neighbours are chatty and take an interest. I find it difficult to gauge how much to bother them, we have a new SAHM neighbour and I don't know where the boundary between friendly and imposing is, so I may come across as a bit aloof. I certainly try not to say rude things about people in front of my DD as you can't guarantee who she will repeat them to. So in summary, they are rude arse and even people who aren't 'nice' wouldn't behave that way.

2. I hate it when people are offered a solution and choose not to take it and prefer to carry on whinging. They were being arses

3. That was an odd reaction, which you have rightly put down to the stressful situation they are in. Again, I don't think you have done anything wrong.

I don't particularly value 'over-niceness', but you sound like you are thoughtful and pleasant rather than simpering and wet.

missingmumxox Fri 23-Aug-13 01:06:17

you do sound caring, but lacking in confidence and that can mean you tend to over compensate, and people see that, so the first two examples the people just moved on and you didn't not wanting to appear rude, but they where, we want to get on, all your please get in front possibly held up the cashier passing your stuff through the till.

you are not wrong, just over nice I would have on the till if I have been in your position when the man joined and she said that, sorry, you need to make your mind up, I offered twice before to let you in before your other half turned up..and to be honest if I had been in that line I would have said it for you.

but I am nice but not shy, also I am apparently scary, I constantly get told how kind I am, but close friends tell me how they would not like to upset me, people think I could be scary apparently, I am not I can't remember the last time I lost my temper or got upset, I just hold my ground politely, it is called being assertive, but it is not natural in most people I am lucky to be born with it, it means I don't worry about things like this, but they are rude and you need to be not less kind just stop over compensating for it,

that said I sometime wonder if I am a sociopath but that is a different story smile

missingmumxox Fri 23-Aug-13 01:10:32

Oh actually looked sociopath up I am not that smile not nice, I thought it meant not normal to social customs , more fool me. sorry

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