The Nice Guy Syndrome
Here's a video shot with long time comrade Sebastiaan Van Der Schrier over at socialanxietysolutions.com
The nice guy syndrome is something that was championed by the book "No more Mr Nice guy" By Dr Robert Glover. If you're not aware of what it is, it's a phenomenon of men (although it also applies across the genders with people pleasing) who embody the following traits (taken from the book)
Nice guys are givers
Nice guys fix and caretake
Nice guys seek approval from others
Nice guys avoid conflict
Nice guys believe they must hide their perceived flaws and mistakes
Nice guys seek the right way to do things
Nice guys repress their feelings
Nice guys often try to be different from their fathers
Nice guys are often more comfortable relating to women than men
Nice guys have difficulty making their needs a priority
Nice guys often make their partner their emotional centre
nice guys are dishonest
nice guys are secretive
nice guys are compartmentalised
nice guys are manipulative
nice guys are controlling
nice guys give to get
nice guys are passive aggressive
nice guys are full of rage
nice guys are addictive
nice guys have difficulty setting boundaries
nice guys are frequently isolated
nice guys are often attracted to people and situations that need fixing
nice guys frequently have problems in intimate relationships
nice guys have issues with sexuality
nice guys are usually only relatively successful
It was painfully embarrassing a couple of years ago to be reading this list line by line going; yep, yep, yea that's me, yep I do that. Seriously, I think too painful in some cases where it was like; come on now, I'm not exactly like that, or, it's not that bad.
In the subsequent years I came to realise I was, and it was.
Fortunately things became sufficiently painful to motivate me to action. It took some particularly brutal experiences within a relationship to at least shake me awake to what was going on, but it was a bit like, being woken up then trying to go back to sleep. It's been a hell of journey working through this archetypal pattern, and continues to be a work in progress, in short though, it speaks to something like the journey we're all on, the journey to some more authentic expression. Maybe that's a never ender, but at least awareness of the archetypal patterns that possess you habitually can be an entry point to some deeper work in peeling back the layers of not you, to get to the reality underneath.
Reality can actually be pretty terrifying. It's not a mystery why people prefer to sleep, succumbing to the allure of numbing agents, addictions and sometimes necessary crutches to stem the flow painful light that comes with having your eyes open. So it's not a quest to be taken lightly, but it seems like the least terrible option when compared with remaining in delusion about yourself and the world you inhabit. At least most of the time. There's much within myself that would avoid at all costs the pain of waking up and taking responsibility for my existence. And that seems to be a continuous back and forth negotiation. At my best I'm unmoved by the struggle, dis-identified with it all, relaxed and enjoying the show. At my worst I'm entrenched in the middle of it, scrambling for some emotional foothold, absorbed by my addiction to drama, desperately trying to skirt the terror of the unknown by generating even the most painful of identities.
I tend to find the things I have the most resistance to, are the area's I've yet to integrate within myself. There's some disowned shard of psychological underbelly, and an emotional charge protecting it. Sometimes, and especially in the case of the nice guy, the disowned part could be the monstrous part of me that says No, and means it. The part that knows how to draw boundaries, and is willing to face the pain of disapproval, being disliked and even the threat of violence by drawing them. because in order to own that part, it's necessary to feel the terror of it's counterpart, and integrate that too.
In this video Seb and I talk fairly candidly about some of my own personal struggle with this obsolete strategy for life, where it comes from and what you might begin to do to crack it open and integrate the fragments.
Please enjoy, I'd also love to hear feedback from other "nice guys" who are interested in recovery.