Message on a Tea Bag

The Cost of Being Nice

Yogi brand teabag tags have wonderful little sayings. I love discovering them
as I dropĀ a teabagĀ into a waiting cup of hot water. They are cosmic communications
from the great beyond — fortune cookie messages for the soul. Today at the
Unfolding retreat I read one and have a different response. Maybe because
hesitance in claiming our voice is what I hear in the circle. Or maybe it is
because owning our voice is an ongoing theme for these four shared days.
Whatever it is I have a strong reaction.

This is what the teabag says… “May your inner self be secure and happy.” A
fine wish. But, I want the other side to read… When your inner self is not
secure and happy may you have the courage to ask for what you want, boldly and
audaciously without looking over your shoulder to see if it is okay with the
choir of people who vote on what you can say.

Clearly they’d need a larger space to write all this.

Kindness is a beautiful quality. It seems to be missing in many encounters. In
her book A Short Course in Kindness, Margot Silk Forrest says “niceness won’t
save the world, kindness just might” I believe that small acts of kindness can
change a life and in doing that change the world. Being kind and being nice are
two different qualities.

To be nice is such a trap. It allows just a part of me to surface while a whole
iceberg of words lay hidden under an ocean of politeness. Niceness is something
that seems to be hammered into girls heads. And maybe the problem is that we’re
not taught how to say difficult things to one another so being nice is our
default position.

I wrote this line in my journal after I read that teabag’s message. “This life
I have, for who knows how long, is melting the ice around my voice. Sometimes I
screech as I discover all the noise I can make.” Becoming comfortable with the
“screechiness” of an emerging voice is part of the process.

As we learn to speak our truth sometimes often things come out in a jumble. With
practice we begin to speak plainly, directly and with as much kindness as we can
summon. Over our four retreat days, we explore ways to speak our own truth and
look for places where nice hides what we really long to say.

I want to know myself fully without worrying about losing the important people
in my life. But when all is said and done, I remember I cannot give up me to be
loved by them. And as that brilliant philosopher Dr. Seuss said, “those who
mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I have found this to be
true. Those who care deeply want us to speak our truth. And while it might not
always feel good to hear what we say they recognize it’s important. There is a
question we need to ask ourselves from time to time…

Is there something I need to say hidden beneath a ocean of politeness?

2 thoughts on “The Cost of Being Nice”

  1. Ahhhh yes, being nice. Your words ring so true. I really fall in love with the kindness part. It feels so good inside when I’m kind. At times, being nice feels like when I’ve paid too much for a bad meal and had to leave hungry. It cost me a lot and I end up depleted.
    Thanks for the reminder! I’ll do a check-in on my niceness barometer and see what’s underneath it!


  2. Lisa, Thanks for your response. It is something that can slip past…the truth hidden under politeness. It is a good thing for me to keep tabs on also.

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