Are you a pushover?

Nov 9, 2011 at 2:06 p.m. ET

There’s a difference between being nice and being a pushover, ladies. Discover the warning signs that your kindness has drifted off into the pushover territory and find out how to take control of your life.

Are you a pushover?

The kindness debate

Since the age of time, humans have taken advantage of nice people. It's simple really: If you meet someone who's willing to give and be flexible, you're more likely to take advantage of their kindness at some point or other. We've all done it and we've all been taken advantage of before. But does being a kind, generous person automatically make you a pushover? Not necessarily, but there are risks that come along with the territory.

The pushover diagnosis

Are you always saying "yes" to people without even thinking before you utter the three letter word? Are you always putting a smile on your face even though you're secretly screaming inside? Do you constantly take other people's abuse and never fight back?

We've all been guilty of one of these traits at some point or other, but if you make this a pattern in your personal life (not necessarily your professional life, as we all need to be flexible at work!), you might be erring into the pushover territory. The pushover is someone who never puts their own needs first and who always lets others get what they need before even considering their own happiness. Sound like a healthy way to live your life? Nope.

The solution

Being nice doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be a "yes" person. You know what we mean: That person that says "yes" to everything and never, ever (not even once!) expresses their discomfort with a situation or stands up for their rights. In fact, being nice means that you care enough about other people's feelings to consider their position and handle the situation delicately. Being nice means you are caring and kind, but are able to gently diffuse an uncomfortable or unjust situation without freaking out at the other person.

If you're concerned that your kindness has begun to interfere with your own personal happiness, take a step back. Consider your interactions with others and ask yourself the following question: What about me? What about my happiness?

The key to preventing the pushover dilemma is learning to communicate effectively with others. There's no need to feel guilty for saying "no" to a friend who's asking you for the millionth annoying favor this month. There's no need to cry over a disappointed sibling who just expects you to jump at their every request. Learning to be a bit selfish (in a good way) in life is the key to balancing kindness and happiness, and that's something we could all work on.

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