Tired of being too nice? Boundaries by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

The Twelve Steps of NiceAnon


I’m starting a new 12-step program. We don’t have enough of them. There’s one I need, and it isn’t on the list. Since Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935, another thirty programs have been patterned after AA, with another eight more partially modeled after the original. They deal with everything from families of alcoholics and addicts to overeaters, hoarders, and sex addicts, to name but a few. But there’s not one for my addiction, so I’m creating a 12-step program for people who are too nice.


My name is Janus, and I’m a nice person. This is where you say, “Hi, Janus,” to make me feel welcome and keep me coming back. Because if I keep coming back it works, and being too nice has cost me everything. I’m sick of putting my needs on the back burner while I make sure you’re okay. I can’t take your love to the bank.


Here’s my story. Maybe there’ll be something in here you can relate to. Maybe you don’t need the 12-steps of NiceAnon, but if you do, thanks to me, we’re here to help. See? See how I took credit for founding the organization? That’s progress.


When I was a toddler at an Easter egg hunt I would stand back and let all the other kids find the eggs. Pushing ahead of the others just seemed rude and crude. Then my parents got mad at me for using the manners they were trying to teach me. LOL.  I got all these mixed messages. I was just a mess.


I was an only child. At the time of my adoption there were no other babies in my parents’ social crowd. All the adults and big kids were quite taken with me. For the first couple of years everyone made sure I was happy, so I didn’t need to push back or to stand up for myself.


Until it was too late. By the time I was two, my mother began to rage at me for things I couldn’t understand, like getting chicken shit on my white baby shoes. Well, she was so proud of me for learning to walk in the first place, but look out where you take those precious baby steps! She was a giant then, towering over me. All I could do was look down at my body in red corduroy overalls with dirty white baby shoes sticking out of the legs. There was no defense against her disapproval. Shame became my fortress.


Without siblings to sharpen my claws on, I had no practice venue for exercising my fight-back reflex. Being a toddler, my only behavioral choices were tantrums and withdrawal, which I practiced alternatively with equal dissatisfaction. The fortress of shame became my home except when I ventured out to rage. Thank you for reading my story. I apologize if it was boring, but maybe it will help somebody else.


It’s been over seventy years since I was a toddler, so there’s no excuse now. I’m capable of stating my case firmly and clearly. And to hell with you if you don’t like it. So there. Oh, I’m sorry. You know I wouldn’t really damn you to hell, it’s just a turn of phrase to help me be more assertive. But There I go again apologizing too much. I’m sorr…whoa! You see my challenge?


These are the steps I am using to support my quest for not-being-too-nice:

One:  I admit to being powerless over being too nice—that my life has become unmanageable.

I just can’t say no. Damn you Zoom! Even with the pandemic I have something on my calendar every day.

Two:    I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.

I do believe, I do believe, I do believe! Should I click my heels? Clap my hands?

Three:    I Make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the unmanifest energy behind creation which cannot be understood by human intellect.

I hope my descriptions of deity aren’t offending anyone!

Four:  I Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my spineless niceness.

I started making a list of every time I said yes when I wanted to say no, but filled three composition books, and I was only up to age 27.  There’s gotta be a better system.

Five:    I Admit to a power greater than myself, to myself, and to another person the exact nature of my excessive people-pleasing and pandering.

Oh, the paradox when your crime is niceness.

Six:    I Become entirely ready to have my higher power remove my wimpiness of character.

But only if it be thy will.

Seven:    I Humbly ask Her/Him/It to remove my passive-aggressive tendencies and cowardice.

Should I take humbly out? Just asking. I’m so confused.

Eight:   I Make a list of all persons I have harmed through being too nice, and become willing to speak my truth to them all.

But what if I think I’ve harmed them, but they don’t even remember? Would it be a form of harm to bring it up?

Nine:   I Speak my truth directly to such people, except when to do so might end up getting me injured.

Wanna  ho’oponopono?  

Ten:     I Continue to take personal inventory and when I’m selling out to be liked, promptly admit it.

Kind of makes me glad Aunt Nettie has crossed over. Makes it easier to tell her that I hated wearing her outdated hand-me-downs to high school.

Eleven: I Seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with Source Consciousness, praying only for knowledge of the will of a power greater than myself and the strength to carry it out.

Twelve: Having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I carry this message to others who are too nice, and practice these principles in all my affairs.