At some point in my development (it's an ongoing process), I gained a fear of confrontation. As I went on, it became more and more prevalent and became a part of my personality. I was a "nice guy", which is fine and certainly carries redeeming qualities; however, I found myself with many problems associated with this. I was unable to stand up for myself. I found myself saying "yes" to everything, even when I didn't want to do something. My love life suffered because I was so afraid of what the female would think about me, thus I held back what I truly thought and often ended up "just a friend". I actually was not a "nice guy", I was a "co-dependent guy". How other people viewed me was how I viewed myself. I would make decisions that were good for others, but not good for me. We don't want to strive to be "nice" people, we want to strive to be "real" people, which is far more encompassing.


I remember how often I would tell someone that I would pick up their shift at work when I didn't want to. I would answer the phone and say "yes", when really I wanted to say "no". Some of the times, I actually needed to work, which is fine; however, many times I was afraid of saying "no" because I feared the other person's reaction.

If we say "yes" to everything and anything others want us to do, we will have no time to carry out our own vision. We all have things that are important to us. Some of us have children, we have to generate income, maybe we are writing a book, the list could go on and on; each person's situation is different. Also, if we say "yes" to every demand, we will set a precedent that we are a person to go to when others need assistance, thus increasing the demands of others over time. Now, if someone seriously needs help, meaning their life is in danger somehow, I will stop what I am doing to help that person. That is important, and it is important to me. So, there are exceptions.


One important reason to say "no" is so that we may devote time to our own vision. Our vision is important, and with the proper time and care, it can help more people than saying "yes" to the demands put upon us by others. By doing this over time, our own mental health will improve, and we will become more suitable to help others. I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but time is our most important resource; it is finite, and we must use it wisely.


Here is a cold hard fact: not everyone is going to like us. It's true, and there is nothing we can do about that; the sooner we accept it, the better. Human beings are essentially the same, yet we are also different. Our biology, for the most part, is the same. We are born with the same set of instincts, thus we are automatically put into direct conflict with one another. It almost seems like a cruel joke that we have to go after the same things, yet somehow get along. So, our instincts are the same, yet many of our thoughts differ. The instincts drive the thoughts, thus making us feel different and unique.

These similar instincts, which drive many different thoughts, will create conflict; it's unavoidable. We must strive to not avoid conflict, but address it in a healthy manner. I say this not from a pedestal, but from the ground level; I need to see this also, as I still have more work to do.

Now, other than saying "no" when appropriate, what I try to do is speak up for myself. This means if I feel like I need something, I ask for it. For me, this most often comes into play at work. It doesn't mean I'll get my way, but it means I am speaking up for myself.

Also, it is worth noting that people don't have the right to be rude to us. If someone steps out of line, we can simply say "that's uncalled for, I don't appreciate it". Simple as that.


People are not out to get us. As I said, they have themselves to look after also. When they ask us to do something, they may have no idea whether we want to do it or not. Other people don't spend near as much time thinking about us as we think. Most people are too busy wondering what we think about them. So, it's never personal. If we weren't around, it would just be someone else. When we speak up for ourselves, we inform the other person where we stand. This is good, because the truth is that they may not know. We want to be genuine. We want to be more than "nice", we want to be "real".


Here are a few things we can do to improve our self-esteem, better manage our time, and allow us to be more effective in helping others:

-When you can't do something, say you can't. Provide the reason why you are unable to do something
-Speak up for yourself: If there is something you need, say it. The other person can always say "no", but at least they will know where you stand, and may know someone else who can help.
-If someone gets rude or steps out of line, say "That's uncalled for, I don't appreciate that". That's all you have to say. Don't lash out, just state your case.
-Realize our vision and what we are working toward is important, probably more important than any demands from others.
-Listen to our inner voice, it is usually a better guide than the voice of society


By being nice when we don't feel that way, we are being fake. This doesn't mean to act like an ass when you are in a bad mood, it just means that we need to find a middle ground. Human beings, at least historically, don't do too well occupying extremes. We don't want to be nice all the time, but we don't want to be mean all the time either. The middle ground is where we want to be, where we are genuine and kind people, who have the ability to say "no" and stand up for ourselves when necessary. We need to love ourselves enough to do this.

The goal for myself is to be close to the same person, regardless of where I am. Many people compartmentalize their life; they are one person at work, a different person at home, etc. By doing this, we drift further away from who we really are, our true selves. If we can strive to be more authentic in all situations, and put our own needs first, we are well on our way to happiness and being more effective at helping others.

Author's Bio: 

Brandon Whitworth is founder and administrator of, a social network for the mental health community, and founder and chief writer of PeerViewMirrorBlog, a mental health blog written from a maverick perspective.