THE BLOG
01/09/2015 04:30 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2015

Is Your Kindness Killing You?

I admit it.  I am a "nice-a-holic."  It's hard to share this because it is embarrassing, but I have learned that I am happiest when I tell the truth, when my mouth and my heart say the same thing.

My New Year's resolution is to make them say the same thing always, to trust that if I tell the whole truth and do it with kindness (the real kindness which means telling the truth with integrity), that all my fears won't come true, that in fact the opposite will happen. My guess is I am not the only one who does this, and by sharing my struggles you'll be inspired how to fix yours.

It's all about fear, really. Being nice and saying "yes" when I mean "no," or not telling people when I am disappointed, or not holding them accountable for things they agreed to or should be doing, at work or in my personal life, causes me all sorts of problems.

First, it makes me unhappy, sleep poorly, angry, irritated and the stress it causes me makes me feel tired and icky.  And it creates more messiness in my life.  It always backfires. Here's how it might go:  I tell someone on my team to do something and I might not be clear -- or I ask the wrong person to do it, and then what I get back is not that great.

Then rather than say -- "Hey, this is a good start but I really need it to be like this and go work on it until it is right." I don't say anything, am nice to them, mumble under my breath, end up doing it myself and "being a hero," then resent them and feel frustrated and mad and complain.

This is a recipe for creating a big mess and undermining what I really want, or giving people a chance to show up differently or deal with the consequences of them not being right for the job.

I also do it with my family. My son recently moved home, and I didn't give him a budget and then found he was spending more than he really should, and rather than tell him this didn't work and that he needed to be accountable, track his spending and we needed to create a budget and that he would get a fixed amount every month to manage, I didn't say that or do anything.

Why? I didn't want to create conflict or have him feel bad and because I felt guilty because he lost his job. But the truth is my avoidance robs us of an honest relationship, and it takes away his ability to show up differently and do the right thing.

What I have learned is the power of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It's hard for me to tell you that I don't always do that. I will almost always go to nice instead of telling the truth, at least until I am ready to explode. Then I'm not as nice.

Can anyone relate?

Being nice when you are unhappy or disappointed or need to express what you need is a form of lying.  Yet this is what I do, and what I know many do.  And I am sick of doing it and the trouble it causes for me and those in my life.

It's actually a form of manipulation  -- trying to manage someone else's response to your words or behavior, rather than simply saying it like it is, and dealing maturely with the fallout.  I tend to work as hard as I can to make things OK, even if they are not  -- then I end up being unhappy, frustrated and the other person doesn't get to show up how they really are -- good or bad.

I learned this at a young age of course, as many niceaholics do.  It had its purpose then, but it just doesn't anymore.

And this is the hardest thing for me to change.  So I asked for help.  My life coach from the Handel Group challenges me, holds me accountable, shows me where I lie or don't tell the whole truth.  She is not only a life coach that helps me with my goals and dreams, she's a different kind -- one that is committed to helping me hold my integrity and be truthful in all my communications and relationships -- with others and with myself.  This standard kicks my butt.

Sometimes it's all so foreign to me that I need to write out what I want to say, to have her help me practice the conversations so I can do it without blame or judgment and with a different type of kindness, an authentic kindness, not the kindness where I seem "nice" but am really doing things or not saying things to "keep the peace" and simultaneously creating a war inside myself and eventually creating even more conflict and stress for myself.

The amazing thing is that when I tell the truth, then those in my life, whether it is employees, friends or family know where I stand, what I feel and we can have an authentic, and more profound relationship -- which is what I was trying to create in the first place but with exactly the opposite and wrong strategy.

So, in summary here's my trait:  nice now = messed up later. I clearly needed the right insights and a new plan to break this pattern.  In general, my life is great! But I want it to be greater, to live fully happy in all areas of my life and in all communication. To make my heart and my mouth always say the same thing. This is why I am taking this on in 2015.

My coach gives me the right wake-up call for my patterns and the right assignments to help me to see my way out. And then checks back in and  holds me accountable. It is really hard to change by yourself.  I know I couldn't.  If you think a coach might help you break old patterns and live more authentically and get closer to happiness, check out the Handel Group to learn more.  They even offer free consults.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that we all deserve a life of vitality -- and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That's why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. He is a practicing family physician, an eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.