Soul Stealers and Art Therapy; Being Too Nice

What is a "soul stealer"?

This is a limited weekly series about “soul stealers”. A soul stealer is something that zaps your energy and dulls your vital spark. It goes against your personal values and does not serve or nurture you. Our week four soul stealer is being agreeable to most things and the proverbial “Yes Man”. Most people on occasion are but for some, it is too frequent. For these folks, James Hollis, Jungian psychotherapist, said that he was going to host a weekly “Nice People Anonymous” group.

How being a “Yes Person” is a soul stealer

Being overly agreeable and accommodating to others can be detrimental to one’s wellbeing. If things are consistently inconvenient with little gain, the soul will protest and folks who are too nice are exploited. Saying yes when one means no, causes frustration, anger, and resentment.

It can also affect the quality of relationships because when one cannot be honest about their true feelings and wishes their relationships lack depth. Nice people may take responsibility for bad things that happen in their life and beat themselves up. They may say they should have known better, despite it being someone else’s doing.

How people become too darn nice.

Being too nice can be a learned behaviour from early life. A significant person in one's life may have offered conditional love and their affection is removed if people do not comply. They may experience abuse, ridicule, or other consequences. Not complying with someone’s requests may result in rejection, losing a connection, disappointing others, or losing face.

People may fear they are unlovable, or they will lose their social network. They may give too much to be part of a relationship for whatever reason.

Some personality types are “helpers” and want to be of service to connect with others. Some have not learned how to set healthy boundaries.

How can one learn to speak their truth?

People cannot bend in all directions to fit into someone else's mould. We have to be our authentic self or it impacts our wellbeing. Jung said that not being authentic to one’s soul is like walking in shoes a few sizes too small.

One may consider practicing speaking their truth with a therapist or a friend who is good at articulating their needs. Learn how to set boundaries that reflect your values and authentic self. Role-playing is an excellent way to practice and build self-esteem.

Listen to your intuition. If your gut says no, lean into your instincts. Don’t set your own needs, principles and beliefs aside in order to fit in.

When your inner critic is strong, question it and push back. Imagine taking it to tea to discuss the message it is sending. Question the message, is it from the past, like a parent's voice? Is it fear-based or sound? Is it helpful or hindering? Does it have sound advice or is it keeping you stuck? It is another thing that may be worked out in therapy.

With a long history of being too nice, one may consider using art therapy to work through learned behaviours and other lived experiences. It can enhance expression, personal insight and work through one’s feelings and emotions.

"From Fawn to Stag". Markers on Paper by Heather Caruso

Heather Caruso is the art therapist of Art Therapy Guelph. She offers both one on one and group art therapy sessions. For more information, contact us today. Click Here.