Jump to the following topics:
- What is niceness?
- The productive and destructive aspects of niceness.
- Techniques for dealing with niceness.
- Niceness is an exaggerated display of positive social traits, e.g., friendliness, compassion, generosity, helpfulness, etc. These traits are usually displayed to other people, but we can also be nice to ourselves.
- Niceness is a means of hiding our actual emotions, feelings, thoughts, and desired actions; for example, niceness can cover fear, anger, hostility, boredom, etc. Thus, niceness is a quality of the persona, our social "mask."
- The productive aspects of niceness. We can suppress a negative trait -- deciding not to express it, but acknowledging it, and planning to do "shadow-work" at a later time to resolve the suppressed elements.
- Niceness is essential sometimes for social protocol, when our situation does not permit us to express our impatience or other antagonistic attitudes.
- Niceness is essential sometimes as a default, when we cannot deal directly with a difficult situation. For example, we might not have the necessary social skills, knowledge, experience, power (e.g., when our boss treats us unfairly), or awareness of intuition.
- Niceness is essential sometimes when we meet new people. Because we do not know these people, our superficial, "nice" chit-chat might be an appropriate way to approach these people with respect for their as-yet-unknown personality.
- Niceness is superficial, and so it is destructive in situations which require emotional intimacy.
- Niceness can be narcissistic. We are concerned with our image and our supposed virtue, instead of the other person and the circumstance. However, niceness is not a virtue; on the contrary, it can become a stifling substitute for a soulful life.
- Niceness can be based on repression (instead of suppression). We might believe that our "nice" qualities are our true identity, and so we deny that the opposite of those qualities are equally true in our shadow. Thus, we develop an inaccurate self-concept, and we cannot use the "golden" qualities of the traits which we have repressed into our shadow.
- Niceness is not an accurate response to a person's words
and actions. If someone is aggressive, and we respond with
niceness, the person might respond in these ways:
- The person might believe that aggression is acceptable because we are responding to it with niceness.
- The person might feel unwarranted guilt or shame because our niceness is an exaggerated positive contrast to the person's aggression.
- The person might hurt us. Although we might believe that
we like people who are excessively nice, we are compulsively
cruel to them. From our soul and our humanity, we are
punishing them because they are not fulfilling their
spiritual and human duty to participate honestly in this
archetypal situation. At these deep levels of our being:
- We want them to provide honest feedback to us. We want the other person (i.e., the other soul) to give true reflections of our actions as we learn about this archetypal situation. And we want to be corrected when we are wrong.
- We want them to confront their life honestly. Our harshness is not a personal attack; instead, it comes from the dynamic of spirit which is telling them to satisfy their responsibility to explore the archetypal situation with their true thoughts, energy tones, images, and actions.
- Niceness can be a means of controlling people. When we
believe that "I am being nice, and so you must be nice,"
we create the following conditions:
- We are prohibiting people from expressing their actual thoughts and energy tones (i.e., emotions and feelings). Perhaps we are trying to prevent them from asserting their rights, or from provoking our charged archetypal-field elements (i.e., our complexes) regarding an issue. Therefore, we are squelching an opportunity to confront and discharge those elements. Likewise, our niceness prevents us from triggering someone's charged elements (or from claiming our rights) in situations where a confrontation is appropriate.
- We are trying to compel people to like us. We are manipulating them by presenting an unrealistically pleasant image of us.
- Archetypal field-work.
- Self-talk. "I can be nice when that quality is required." "Niceness is only a temporary state while I learn to deal with situations."
- Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves in situations where we are skillfully responding to a situation with the fullest-possible expression of our thoughts, energy tones, and actions -- instead of responding with phony niceness.
- Energy toning. We can generate the energy tones of friendliness, compassion, generosity, helpfulness, etc. These energy tones help us to generate niceness when that type of presentation is necessary.
- The "as-if principle." Niceness itself is an expression of the as-if principle; we are acting as if we have the traits which we are portraying.
- In healthy suppression, we can "act nice" while acknowledging our contrary thoughts, energy tones, and desired actions.
- In repression, we deny that those contrary things exist.