How Women Deceive Others & Betray Themselves — Without Realizing It

And five ways to stop the cycle.

Letting go of nice girl image Kseniia Perminova | Canva

If someone told you to stop being so nice, would it feel like an insult? If your answer is yes, you might suffer from Nice Girl Syndrome. 

I agree it’s challenging to find a safe way to be direct and honest without getting accused of being harsh, bossy, or any other derogatory word used to describe confident women. Refusing to be "nice" when niceness isn't authentic doesn't have to be harsh, but when you are used to being a nice girl, being honest feels the opposite because you fear you’ll be perceived as harsh.


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Five ways to drop the 'nice girl' facade & embrace your true self

1. Tune in the honest girl

As women, we are afraid to be judged by others when we are anything other than accommodating, caring, and loving. This fear keeps us stuck in the Nice Girl Syndrome. You don’t want to hurt anyone, so you filter your words through the ‘nice filter’, then wonder why you feel fake or angry.

Recently, I heard again about someone afraid to be honest due to fear of hurting others, or what others might think about her. Those social control mechanisms go deep, don’t they? Being honest means you are a harsh, cold, uncaring egotist, so you are not going to be liked. Really? Who says?


She is disappointed and will let go of the nice girl image ViDI Studio via Shutterstock

Those strands are remnants from an old paradigm and still live in many of us as a default filtering system to make sure we won’t hurt anyone and continue being liked. It’s an emotional survival instinct we were conditioned to use.

Just consider how we, as women, have held ourselves back out of fear of being judged. How often have we swallowed words to make sure not to create a stir or make someone lose face? And how much of our life feels compromised and empty, just because we are not being ourselves?


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2. Drop out of the Nicey-Nice-School

I remember my days of being nice when I still lived in Denmark. We would joke among ourselves that we had graduated from the Nice School with flying colors. Some were always so saccharinely nice, that it would almost make us puke.

These were in the early stages when we were just becoming conscious of our niceness. It was still common practice to fit in and not even question it. We were happily asleep in ignorance and didn't think anything of it.

It felt very liberating to feel the inner push to let go of being nice step out of our comfort zone and try to be more honest. It felt safer to do so among other women on the same path.


I don’t know about you, but when you start getting the taste of what you are doing, it leaves a foul aroma in your mouth and makes you reconsider if it’s worth it. The taste of nice didn’t make me ask for seconds. Unconsciously, we had all gone to this same Nicey-Nice-School where honesty was not part of the curriculum.

3. Turn yourself on to liberation

The women's liberation movement knew how to stop being a nice girl. Remember those days? We had to break through some tough inner barriers (the nice filter) so we could open up to become the honest women inside of us. Those barriers were thick and strong and it took some force to get through that filter.

The Women’s Liberation Movement didn't always have a good reputation. They were — and according to some, still are — seen as harsh women, tough cookies, or worse. Yet, these same women broke the mold for you and me so we can benefit from a slowly evolving freedom for all.

I certainly remember how afraid I was when I started speaking my truth, and I don’t think it came out so gracefully either. I'd bet it was the same with those women who started the movement.


It was scary to step out of the mold. I had to brace myself for the potential negative impact when I would just say it as it is. I’d bet it sounded harsh and rude at first. The thick wall of fear makes our initial attempt to be honest less than attractive.

I also experienced a lot of anger behind the nice filter after so many years of suppression, and truth be told, when anger came out, it sounded harsh.

Don't expect we’ll do it all perfectly when we stop being a nice girl. Let’s accept we are going to go through a learning curve to bring out our honesty and give ourselves permission to fumble and stumble, and maybe even swear!


Start talking to your friends who support you in this process. It’s fun to practice with safe friends who are also sick and tired of being nice. (I wrote an article about how to do it and have some fun with it too.)

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4. Find the honest woman behind the nice filter

I bow to myself and all the other women who know how to stop being a nice girl. I bow to them for taking the steps to break through the walls of niceness. It takes a lot of courage and you rarely get a medal for it. It wasn't easy then, and it still isn’t today when you are just starting on a path to honesty.

Paniced woman in a crowd need to let go of the nice girl image Tero Vesalainen via Shutterstock


However, the honest woman behind the nice filter has grown too big and can't be held back. I am welcoming her to come out in every woman. You are not alone anymore. You don’t need to live in anger. There is plenty of support in your search to be yourself and get your voice heard.

5. Let your truth stop the nice girl

When you connect back to that inner awakening woman — the truth of who you are — you realize how much energy it takes to hold her back and suppress her true voice.

There’s a lot of bottled-up energy in there. The more we filter her through ‘nice’, the more energy builds up and the harsher it sounds when she finally makes it through. Now is a good time and reason to stop being a nice girl.


Instead, I would like to welcome She, The Honest Woman, into this world to guide you and me to be more honest and more true to ourselves in everything we do.

Let’s support each other to make this shift so we don’t feel alone anymore. Let's do it with humor and permission to make mistakes because there is no way you are going to make the transition perfectly anyway.

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Pernilla Lillarose is a self-love mystic mentor and certified Hakomi practitioner.