Overcoming Nice Guy Syndrome
Some of us can identify with Nice Guy Syndrome and also spot our own Nice Guy Behaviors.
It is through these two things that we begin to understand why Nice Guys are sometimes labelled as “wimps/losers”. This, of course is very frustrating and troubling because we have no idea how to truly overcome Nice Guy Syndrome.
As Nice Guys we expect a smooth and easy life achieved through seeking the approval of others. This is our life paradigm. Through this life paradigm we become men who shy away or even run away from conflicts. We unconsciously attach negative feelings we felt as a child to any conflict we can anticipate. As a result, it is very easy for others to perceive us as someone always running away from uncomfortable/awkward situations: wimpy behavior.
How do we solve this? Reclaiming our personal power and masculinity. This is respectively taken from Chapter 5 and 6 of No More Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover. In chapter 5 of NMMNG, Robert Glover defines personal power as “a state of mind in which a person is confident that he can handle whatever may come.”.
Having personal power is often misunderstood as people think that this requires feeling no fear at all, however this is not the case at all. True confidence to handle whatever may come means facing the unknown head on, and embracing the fear that comes along with it. All of us feel fear everyday, we just have to learn how to not give in to it.
As Nice guys we shouldn’t be afraid to face our fears. Because when we give into our fears, we become powerless. This powerlessness fuels our frustration and pain, and we become stuck and feel stuck in life.
Reclaiming Personal Power
One of the first steps to reclaiming personal power is surrendering. We might think that this means giving up. But it is quite the contrary. Surrendering means letting go of things not within our control.
Rather than controlling things not within their control, Nice Guys can learn how to observe and respond to these things in a control-free manner. So when Nice Guys are struggling to control something they will stop thinking, “Why is this happening to me?” and start thinking, “What do I need to learn from this situation?”.
As Nice Guys start cultivating this approach to life, they can begin to spot the burdensome nature of controlling certain things, and begin to focus on areas that bring them more fulfillment.
Part of my unhappiness in life previously stemmed from my mother’s unhappiness. If she was upset with something when I was around her, I would become very controlling. I would try to give her advice, or go into great detail into explaining what she did wrong.
Most of the time when I try to “fix” her or her problem, I find that it has little effect on her mood. And this sometimes frustrates me as well. Why can’t she just get her emotions under control?
It was only after therapy, reading and lots of self-reflection that I realized I shouldn’t be managing my mother’s emotions ALL THE TIME.
This path of action can be best described as facing reality objectively as possible. Nice Guys have trouble doing this. Instead of being objective, Nice guys will create false beliefs about certain people and situations. As a result, many people find Nice guy behaviors to be illogical.
One of the reasons Nice Guys create false beliefs about certain people and situations is because of their fear of abandonment. These beliefs are created to cushion themselves from facing these fears of being alone. Because of this, Nice Guys find it difficult to deal with people and situations objectively.
By facing their fears of abandonment, Nice Guys can begin to learn to ask for what they want, set boundaries and express feeling of anger.(which are all actions of personal power).
A clear example of not dwelling in reality is if you find yourself in stuck in a toxic relationship. Are you stuck in one? If you’re putting your partner on a pedestal and she’s treating you horribly, then yes you are stuck in one.
Feelings are something else that Nice Guys fear. And because of this, Nice Guys hold back their feelings in everyday situations. A lot. They rationalize this behavior by saying that they don’t want to hurt anyone. But in reality, they’re actually saving their own asses.
Why save their own asses? It’s because Nice Guys fear that their feelings will recreate negative childhood experiences. As children, Nice Guys experienced feelings that “intensely invited negative attention or no attention at all.”. It therefore made sense for them to hold back any emotions, just so they can avoid any negative experiences again.
But in reality, feelings don’t always bring in negative experiences: if they’re handled and expressed well. Letting loose feelings that have been repressed for such a long time can be difficult. And so that is why it is important for Nice Guys to find “safe” people to express their feelings to.
Robert Glover recommends men’s support groups as these groups allow Nice Guys to practice opening up to others, and to converse with emotions. Over time, Nice Guys will learn to be more in tune with how to feel, and communicate in the language of emotions. This isn’t a process that turns Nice Guys into soft men. Nor is it meant to turn them into women.
The effect is that Nice Guys will eventually learn to be more “powerful, assertive, and energized.”. And that is a step towards reclaiming more personal power.
As Nice Guys learn to to be more in tune with their feelings, they also come into contact with their fears more often. Which is probably the most crucial step for Nice Guys to reclaim personal power.
The fear that Nice Guys experience is not the healthy fear that warns a human being that danger may be approaching. It is toxic fear that came from childhood experiences at home, in school or amongst friends. It was life in fearful systems that “discouraged risk and rewarded conservatism.”. And it was learning to be dependant on such teachings from these fearful systems.
In the end, Nice Guys learn that in a life of chaos: causing changes would mean a door into the unknown. This unknown is what Nice Guys fear the most. And Robert Glover calls it Memory Fear.
Because of memory fear, Nice Guys to continuously perceive the world to be the same dangerous world that they experienced as a child. So as a result, life’s challenges and realities are constantly avoided. Nice guys suffer immensely because they allow their memory fear to control them.
The only way to beat this memory fear is to face it everyday. The mantra to repeat when facing something that you fear is “I can handle it.”. And everytime a Nice Guy is able to face and handle his fear, it will cultivate and reinforce an understanding that his memory fear will have less and less control over him.
One of the best examples I have with memory fear is approaching women on the street(and expressing my sexual interest). This is one of the most socially deviant behaviors ever. And yet I’ve been able to do it dozens of times already.
Although I do feel fear everytime before I approach a woman, I still manage to go up to her and start a conversation. And so now everytime before I approach a woman, I think back on the many other times I have done approaches and realize that I can handle whatever fear i feel. My memory fear of no longer overwhelms me. I have been able to stare it down and not let it prevent me from meeting women I’m interested in.
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One of the other things that Nice Guys fear is telling the truth. They are scared that telling the truth will upset other people immensely and cause chaos. Remember that this is not what Nice guys want. They want life to be smooth and easy.
Instead of telling the truth, Nice Guys would rather tell a partial version of the truth or none of it at all, and with the hope that it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. So in this sense, Nice Guys have very little integrity.
Integrity, defined by Robert Glover, is “deciding what feels right and doing it.”. And not giving a fuck about what others think at all. Nice guys have to develop a way to connect with how they feel deep inside, and figuring out the path that they feel is right. And once this path is discovered, Nice Guys have to commit to it. No matter what.
This may sound like selfish and inconsiderate behavior to some people, however it is quite the contrary. By always putting other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration, Nice guys are putting other people on a pedestal. Especially women.
And this is bad because it results in relationships which are fear-based. And in fear-based relationships, Nice Guys will always let their fear dictate their actions.
In your own relationships with your partner are you constantly hiding certain things from her? Do you find yourself feeling pressured by your partner’s anger or reaction by something you did?
Not being able to set boundaries is the main reason why people perceive Nice Guys as pushovers. The graphic demonstration of this problem in the book is as such.
A shoestring is laid between a Nice Guy client and Robert Glover. The shoestring is the imaginary boundary. Robert crosses the boundary and pushes the client backwards. And the client allows himself to be pushed back several steps before he makes Robert stop.
Nice Guys don’t believe in stopping the initial push at all. Instead they would rather wait to be pushed back several steps, as they believe each extra step back might stop the pushing altogether. (so irrational, and something i’m guilty of as well.).
By allowing their boundaries to be crossed, Nice Guys are teaching the people around them that this behavior is acceptable. And because of memory fear, Nice Guys don’t want to start enforcing boundaries and “rock the boat”: which is a change they think will invite lots of negativity.
And this is a wrong way to view the action of setting boundaries. Because setting boundaries gives other people the chance to behave differently. People will begin to see that the Nice Guy doesn’t tolerate having their boundaries crossed, and that these boundaries are reinforced. Through setting boundaries, Nice Guys can start taking responsibility for their own space.
Here are some questions that will help you understand yourself more.
Are you saying yes to something when you actually want to say no?
Are you tolerating something just because you’re hoping it will go away?
Do you avoid doing something because it might upset someone?
Answering these questions will help show you how much you back away from your boundary line.
We know what personal power is, but what exactly is Masculinity? Robert Glover defines it as “that part of a man that equips him to survive as an individual, clan and as a species.”. Okay. So why is it important for the Nice Guy to reconnect with it?
Firstly this masculine energy is what allowed men to create, destroy and conquer for thousands of years.(read more on masculine energy and how it affects men in their dating and love lives). A man’s masculinity also enables him to provide and protect those around him.
These may seem to be good things, so why aren’t Nice Guys Masculine? The “problem” with masculine energy is that there is a dark side. Masculine energy could lead to aggression, destruction and brutality. And these bad things are exactly what Nice Guys want to repress.
As Nice Guys repress their masculine energy, women around them feel like they have no life force in them. And so some women unfortunately settle for “jerks” whom they feel have more of a masculine edge about them. It is no surprise then that many Nice Guys are resentful of “jerks” out there who do better with women.
And so if a lot of Nice Guys want to lose their Nice Guy syndrome and start attracting women, a crucial step is reclaiming and cultivating this masculine energy.
Male friendships are very important for a path back to reclaiming one’s masculinity. But these friendships take time and effort. And every Nice Guy out there needs to make a conscious effort to connect with other men.
Connecting with men requires Nice Guys to do “guy things” with other men. This could include:
Regular hang outs
As Nice Guys get their emotional needs met through men, they also become less needy, manipulative and resentful towards the women in their life. This is the power of what a healthy male friendship can give a man. No matter how much shaming, or critique a woman gives a man, he will know that his buddies accept him for who he is. And this mindset will allow recovering Nice Guys to seek less approval from women, and letting women define who they are.
Most Nice Guys grow up without having their fathers around. As a result they form a close bond with a mother that is often controlling and needy. This bond is toxic and overwhelming for a child as he has to manage anger, neediness and controlling behavior.
In the end, the child became unconsciously monogamous to his mother and could not grow and become self-dependant in a healthy way. As a grown up, Nice Guys will find themselves smothered by their mothers and constantly feel obligated to be their mother’s emotional partner. This toxic relationship makes Nice Guys unavailable to a certain degree with the women in their life.
This unavailability is something that a lot of women can sense, and one of the ways on dealing with it is reconnecting with men(recommended by Robert Glover). By reconnecting with men, Nice Guys will be able to cultivate their masculinity. They will also begin to learn that their Mother’s smothering and controlling behavior are violating their boundaries.
There are many other methods in the book that talk about reclaiming masculinity.
Seeking out Healthy Male Role Models
Getting Physically Strong
Reconnecting with the Father
Learning what it means to be a masculine man is a tough process. I for one can say this is a journey filled with self-doubt and countless challenges. Each of these methods in this post will either help you reclaim personal power or your masculinity. And you will find yourself struggling with each and every one of them. But when things are difficult and you do feel alone, feel free to add me on google chat(firstname.lastname@example.org) and hit me up with anything!(Questions, Concerns, Something about your day, meeting women.).