Being Too Nice Can Literally Make You Sick

January 18th, 2013
By: Dr. Anoosha Avni
Registered Psychologist

In my private practice, I focus primarily on teens and adults struggling with anxiety. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the majority of my clients who struggle with anxiety all have one thing in common: They’re all nice. Too nice, actually. Their kindness and generosity was making them sick. Literally. They suffered from excessive worry, headaches, shakiness, muscle tension, irritability, sleep difficulties, nausea, and gastro-intestinal problems. Some even developed ulcers.

It was hard for many of my clients to accept that the very qualities they were taught were desirable were the very qualities that were making them sick. They were people-pleasers. They sought approval from everybody. They were afraid of saying “no.” They avoided conflict at all costs, even at the cost of their own health.

Out of the many theories of anxiety, the Hidden Emotion Model is one that a lot of people who struggle with anxiety can relate to. This model is based on the idea that niceness is the cause of all anxiety. People who are prone to anxiety are almost always people-pleasers who fear conflict and distressing emotions such as guilt and anger. They ignore the guilt and anger they’re afraid to express. They do this so well that they’re usually not aware they’re doing it. These distressing emotions resurface in disguised forms as anxiety, panic, worry, and fear.

When you expose the hidden, distressing feelings and solve the problem that’s bothering you, your anxiety will often decrease. Your health will improve and you’ll begin to see the world through a different lens. You’ll find the courage to set and maintain boundaries with others.

Remember: Being nice shouldn’t cost you your health.

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