No More Mr Nice Guy...
On Tuesday I wrote about how I used to be a 'nice guy'. And I was lonely, isolated, confused, did not understand the world, why it was treating me this way. Read on to understand, it's fascinating...
Firstly, what do I mean by 'nice guy'?
Nice guys show up as people pleasers, problem solvers, fixers, generous, polite, and friendly. They always say the right things, full of compliments, very smart, have answers for problems, give good advice, always say yes and are always there for you when you need them. They give generously of their time and maybe even gifts and favours, and never ask for anything in return. They'll also avoid conflict and hide their flaws and mistakes in some way, so they appear faultless and no-one will get angry with them. They learn the best ways to do things so that things never go wrong. They hide and suppress their feelings to make sure no-one is uncomfortable around them. And other similar traits...
Do you recognise the type? Is it you. Or maybe partly you? Or do you know someone like that?
It doesn't really seem all that bad, right?
Next, why does it not work in life?
A major problem for 'nice guys' is that they tend to live under one or more of three 'covert contracts'. These are agreements they make with the world, and with people they meet, but they are hidden, not out in the open, and sometimes even in their subconscious. You can call it a belief system, and on the surface it seems reasonable to many. The three ‘contracts' are simple 'if ... then ... propositions":
1. If I'm a really good guy, then everyone will like me...
So, all the behaviours demonstrated above are actually approval seeking actions. And psychologists and coaches will quickly tell you that approval seeking behaviour in all areas of life is bound to end in disappointment.
2. If I can meet other people's needs without them asking, then other people will meet my needs without me asking...
So, when they give and ask for nothing back, it's because they expect it back without having to ask; and when it doesn't come, there's confusion and disappointment
3. If I do everything right, then I'll have a problem-free world to live in
So, by never doing anything wrong, to cause controversy or offend people, they are surprised and disappointed when the world offends them, is controversial, and things go wrong.
These contracts manifest in all aspects of their life: work, friendships, family, dating, etc. Their world is full of confusion, disappointment, and frustration. It’s no way to live.
Here are the problems:
'Nice guys' are often unaware of the contracts they hold, and certainly everyone else is not aware of them.
So, the approval they are seeking does not appear, the reciprocal gifts never arrive, and the problem-free world does not happen.
And this is painful to the 'nice guy' who believes the world is against him, unfair and unjustified. You can see how the confusion and maybe even anger can arise.
And remember, this will all be suppressed for the nice guy, because he has to retain his image of, well, being a nice guy. And there's the circle. It’s difficult to break out.
In a nutshell, all the plans they have in place backfire because, whether they are conscious of it or not, the rest of the world is not aware of their plan and doesn't play their part.
And it's especially true when it comes to romantic relationships. And all the more painful as a result. A nice guy would never reveal that he's sexually interested in a woman, as that would make that woman feel uncomfortable. And then he's disappointed when she never shows interest back. But she didn't know he was interested, because he was being a nice guy. And on it goes.
So they end up as friends, and his frustration grows.
Nice guy syndrome is based in the idea that “I am not good enough, so if I act a certain way, people will accept me”.
Finally, what can you do about it?
Some tips to break out of ‘nice guy syndrome’. Self awareness is a big step, so you’ve already made it this far...
- be good to yourself - start believing that you are worthy…the real you, that is
- use affirmations or other techniques to break free from your beliefs about yourself and the world
- learn to give up control and allow things to be imperfect
- stop hiding your true feelings, let them out and own them, and take responsibility
- hang out with other guys, observe how they behave and see the results
- allow yourself to live the life YOU want, not the life you think others want of you
If you want to read more, check out the work of Dr Robert Glover. My thoughts here are based on an interview I heard with him, talking about his book...
So, guys, do you agree this is powerful stuff? Share your thoughts below, and tag all your 'nice guy' mates in the comments, so they can read this for themselves.
Of course, personal coaching can help you work through these beliefs, enhancing your self awareness and working with proven techniques to change the way you see yourself and the world. So drop me a line to discuss your options.