Being nice does not necessarily mean that you are a pushover; however, some people find it difficult to recognise the difference.
What is a Pushover?
A pushover is someone who is easy to influence or manipulate.
Being a pushover is dangerous and unhealthy as you let others step all over your boundaries. Worse, it could affect your self-confidence, reputation, self-image, and self-esteem.
One of the best ways to tell the difference between being “nice” or a “pushover” is by considering this question:
Do you have a hard time saying “No”? Nice people are nice because they want to be. They might help someone in need because they want to help make life better for that person. However, if an ungrateful person seeks help, or if it is someone that they don’t want to help, a nice person could say “no”.
On the other hand, a pushover often feels guilty if he/she says “no” – or they are unable to to say “no” at all.
Here are some other things to consider, if you aren’t sure about the difference between being nice or a pushover:
- Are you always trying to impress others? Nice people are not trying to prove themselves or to impress anyone. A pushover on the other hand, is always doing more to impress others or to feel needed.
- Do you say “Sorry” when it’s not your fault? Nice people say “sorry” when it is their fault or to show understanding. Pushovers say “sorry” to either impress or because they feel everything is their fault and others are better than them.
- Do you give your honest opinion? Nice people aren’t afraid of giving their honest opinion even if it isn’t positive. Pushovers often don’t speak up or only give positive feedback in order to please everyone.
How to Stop Being a Pushover
If you want to stop being a pushover, you need to:
- Learn to love yourself and stand up for your own boundaries.
- Learn to be assertive, which means respecting yourself while also respecting others.
It’s a simple process but not necessarily easy.
Here are a couple of practical ways to help you start making the change from being a pushover, to being “nice”.
Learn the Personal Bill of Rights
A Personal Bill of Rights is a list of the rights we all have as individuals. Learning it means you are aware of your own rights, and so don’t need to feel guilty if you are simply standing up for your own rights. Moreover, it makes you aware of when someone else is taking advantage of you, or abusing your rights.
- I have the right to ask for what I want
- I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet
- I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative
- I have the right to change my mind
- I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect
- I have the right to follow my own values and standards
- I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values
- I have the right to determine my own priorities
- I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behaviour, actions, feelings, or problems
- I have the right to expect honesty from others.
- I have the right to be angry at someone I love
- I have the right to be uniquely myself
- I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid”
- I have the right to say “I don’t know”
- I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behaviour
- I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings
- I have the right to my own needs for personal space
- I have the right to be playful and frivolous
- I have the right to be healthier than those around me
- I have the right to be in a non abusive environment
- I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people
- I have the right to change and grow
- I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect
- I have the right to be happy
While you are exercising your rights, remember that others’ have the same rights as you.
Surround yourself with Supportive People
It’s hard when you are trying to change and grow, but others are not supportive of your decisions. They might not think it’s necessary for the change, or they might think that you can’t do it. Find people who truly care about you, and support your decision in self-actualising.
If you need any more help, seek a professional like myself to receive some assertiveness training!
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.
To make an appointment with Christopher Lee try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.
- Speed, B. C., Goldstein, B. L., & Goldfried, M. R. (2018). Assertiveness Training: A Forgotten Evidence?Based Treatment. Clinical Psychology (New York, N.Y.), 25(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/cpsp.12216