I’m addicted to being nice and have a hard time letting go of control and embracing anger. I know I’m not alone, especially as a woman.
Our emotions are a huge outlet for our expression. Since diving into my full self-expression, I’ve become increasingly more aware of how my emotions show up in my body.
Think about all the different ways we describe these feelings. Butterflies in our stomach, that feeling of “knowing” in our gut, a racing heart, or tense shoulders. Our feelings are an amazing way to experience and understand the world around us, and totally help us tap into our magical intuitive powers. They are such a gift.
But when we don’t allow emotional energy to move through us, it can get stuck in our bodies and can manifest into physical ailments. We need to process and release them. If we don’t we can feel “stuck”, tired, sore, foggy or sick- or all around just plain shitty. There’s a ton of scientific evidence on the effects of stress on our health, and the same can be said for suppressed shadow emotions like sadness, resentment or anger.
Think of it like smoking cigarettes. Yes, having one cigarette will not kill you. But the impact of long term smoking is devastating to your health. The same thing happens when our low vibin’ emotions get shoved down every time we feel a trickle of pain. The more we resist them little by little, the more suffering we experience in the long run.
This suppression starts from a very young age. A lot of girls (and boys) are “tamed” or domesticated. Crying is shushed. Temper tantrums are ignored. Anger can be met with reciprocal anger (and no one likes to be on the receiving end of someone’s aggressive behaviour- whether it’s passive, emotional, or physical).
So we learn to suppress our feelings in order to appease others, be agreeable, and fit in with society. We want to be “good girls” and “sweethearts” and are rewarded when we behave accordingly- which only further strengthens this belief.
In my own reality, this conditioning showed up as being really really nice to people. That doesn’t sound that awful, right? But in truth it can be quite damaging.
NICENESS VS. KINDNESS
I want to take a moment to explain what the difference is between niceness and kindness.
Being kind is an act of unconditional love. The definition of kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. I’m going to add to this and say it’s without expecting anything in return. Being kind is fantastic and I love showing up in the world in this way.
Whereas niceness comes from fear. Fear that if we aren’t pleasant and agreeable then people won’t like us. Being nice can feel extremely fake and inauthentic, but we’ve been brought up to think of it as a positive trait.
I grew up thinking that the only way to feel like I fit in was to put on this mask of niceness. I was terrified of being called a bitch or not belonging. To me it meant others would hate me and I couldn’t use my voice without offending someone (even when that wasn’t my intention). So I suppressed my anger and my opinions to fit in. I “played nice”. I went along with others, and became an excellent people-pleaser and ignored my inner truth for most of my life. I had a really hard time being confrontational and standing up for myself. I wanted nothing more than to keep both the inner and outer peace. But I was slowly hurting myself because of it. I was denying the very voice that made me the incredible and unique spirit that I am.
This realization changed my whole reality. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly got angry and I had experienced some pretty life shattering events- from being bullied, to the death of loved ones, and a crippling heartbreak (note: these events didn’t make me a victim, they actually made me a great student of life). But in all these scenarios I never processed my rage. Which is one of the very fundamental steps to healing from any sort of trauma.
THROWING MY FIRST ADULT TEMPER TANTRUM
I set the intention at the beginning of Summer to learn to release this energy when I finally saw how addicted I was to being nice. I looked into boxing classes. I journaled. I tried screaming into a pillow. I danced aggressively to some loud D&B and flailed in my living room.
But all of it felt extremely forced. I truly didn’t feel very upset at anything. I knew subconsciously it was buried so deep that it felt like it didn’t actually exist. I became so good at lying to myself that I was in pain. Being nice had become a huge part of my identity and my ego was holding on for dear life.
Then I let go of the thought that I “needed” to get it out. I accepted that when the time was right it would happen. And a few shorts months later I found my release.
I woke up from a triggering dream, and right away felt like something inside me needed to come out. So I started crying. Truthfully I cry a lot, but it didn’t take me long to tap into my body and realize these were a different kind of tears. I felt my legs aching to be wild and obnoxious. My arms were gripped tightly around my pillow and all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs and thrash around my bed.
I knew this was it. This was the first time I gave myself permission to let this emotion bubble up from my subconsciousness. I surrendered.
I went into a full toddler-style temper tantrum. I screamed, sobbed, kicked, and beat my pillow against the bed as hard as I could for almost a full hour before it felt all out. I focused on doing so without judgment (even though that was challenging), and allowed the energy to flow through me, without directing it at a certain situation or person. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint the reason for my anger at the time, but I intentionally let it overcome me. I allowed my body to go into full tremors afterwards and I then had a spontaneous visualization of this black rock that was stuck in my center. It started to crack apart into a fine dust and softly blow away into the sky.
I hadn’t experienced a tantrum like this for over two decades, and as terrifying as it was, in the end it felt so fucking amazing!
I felt cleared energetically, full of peace and light, and incredibly calm and centered after the experience. I felt like I was finally getting to know apart of myself that I had resisted for decades. And instead of having shaming thoughts, telling myself I was bat shit crazy, or that this experience was “bad”, I took it as an opportunity to practice self-love and accepted it as a part of who I am.
I know that as humans we are created to experience a full spectrum of our emotions. They wouldn’t exist if they didn’t serve a purpose.
I’d like to say that this was a one-off event and that afterwards I felt joyful, happy, and free forever (ya right… in what world), but the truth is these tantrums went on daily for over a week and then still slowly dissipated after that. They were mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. When I was going about my day I felt like I was constantly on alert, and had an anxious twitch that made me want to scream at the top of my lungs. I felt like crawling up under a rock and staying there for all eternity (a bit dramatic I know… but it felt true). I get why people want to try and avoid feeling similar things. It’s not called “doing the work” for nothing. It’s not fun.
THE MESSAGE IN MY ANGER
I only found relief when I was able to pinpoint the truth of my upset. I wasn’t upset because of a dream- something much deeper was affecting me.
My intuition was calling to me and I had been ignoring her completely. She was asking me to open up about a past hurt and share it with that person who was very close to me. I asked this person to witness these tantrums many times over the course of the week before I came to the realization that I needed to share out loud with them what was hurting me.
My intuition wanted me to become more assertive and speak my truth without fear of being abandoned or losing their love. When I did, my body thanked me, and I slowly released the tension of my anger over a few days.
I’m sharing this story with you because I know a lot of women face similar fears— that if we express our full range of emotions then we will be labeled a crazy bitch, someone will just blame “that time of the month”, or we’ll lose the love of those we hold closest. But I want you to know that our bodies often gives us clues as to what we actually need to feel whole and complete. And until we learn to listen, she’ll continue to cry louder until her cries can’t be ignored, only resulting in more suffering.
I’m all for showing up in the world with kindness (you can express your truth while still being kind), but I’m ready to break the pattern of being addicted to niceness. I know a lot of women feel the same in this day and age. It’s time we look for our courage and let go of this fear. I’m right here with you.
I’d love to leave you with a quote that spoke to me and really expresses this lesson that I continue to learn:
“A peace purchased with self-sacrifice is not a peace at all. It’s the slow death of the soul masquerading as tranquility.” – Thomas G. Fiffer