Most Nice Guys initially come to counseling to deal with the way their life paradigm is affecting their intimate relationships. These relationship problems often overshadow the reality that they are equally dissatisfied with their job, career, or life direction in general. The dynamics that keep Nice Guys stuck in dysfunctional, unsatisfying relationships are often the same dynamics that keep them stuck in dysfunctional and unsatisfying vocations.
Fear Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
If I were to identify one common factor at the core of every problem experienced by Nice Guys, it would be fear. Pretty much everything Nice Guys do or don’t do is governed by fear. Their thoughts are funneled through fear-encrusted neurons in their brains. Their interactions are dictated by the politics of fear.
- It is fear that prevents a Nice Guy from demanding the raise he has been promised.
- It is fear that keeps a Nice Guy from going back to school to get the education or training he needs to pursue a truly fulfilling career.
- It is fear that prevents a Nice Guy from quitting a job he despises.
- It is fear that gets in the way of a Nice Guy starting the business of his dreams.
- It is fear that prevents a Nice Guy from living where he really wants to live and doing what he really wants to do.
Nice Guys are afraid of making a mistake, afraid of doing it wrong, afraid of failure, afraid of losing it all. Right alongside these fears of disaster is the paradoxical fear of success. Nice Guys are typically afraid that if they are truly successful:
- They will be found out to be frauds.
- They won’t be able to live up to people’s expectations.
- They will be criticized.
- They won’t be able to handle the increased expectations.
- They will lose control over their lives.
- They will do something to mess up everything.
Rather than facing these fears — real or imagined — Nice Guys typically settle for operating at a fraction of their full potential.
Trying To Do It Right Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want.
The essence of all life is evolution and change. In order for this process to occur naturally and completely in an individual, a person has to be willing to let go of control. Letting go allows the beautiful, serendipitous chaos of creation to resonate through one’s self. The result is a dynamic, fulfilling life.
Nice Guys are obsessed with trying to keep their lives smooth and uneventful. They do this by trying to “do it right” and following the “rules.” Unfortunately, this life strategy is the most effective way to put a lid on any creative life energy. This lid kills their passion and prevents Nice Guys from living up to their full potential.
- Trying to do it right robs Nice Guys of their creativity and productivity.
- Striving for perfection keeps Nice Guys focused on their imperfections.
- Seeking external validation and approval keeps Nice Guys stuck in mediocrity.
- Attempting to hide flaws and mistakes prevents Nice Guys from taking risks or trying something new.
- Following the rules make Nice Guys rigid, cautious, and fearful.
It is because of these self-imposed limits that many Nice Guys are dissatisfied, bored, or unhappy with their life and vocation.
Trying To Do Everything Themselves Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
As children, Nice Guys did not get their needs met in timely, judicious ways. Some were neglected, some were used, some were abused, some were abandoned. All grew up believing that it was a bad or dangerous thing for them to have needs. All grew up convinced that if they were going to have anything in life, it would be up to them.
Consequently, Nice Guys are terrible receivers. They are terrified of asking for help. They are completely miserable when others try to give to them. They have difficulty delegating to others.
Because they believe they have to do it all themselves, Nice Guys rarely live up to their full potential. Nobody can be good at everything or succeed all on their own. Nice Guys believe they should be able to. They might be jacks-of-all-trades, but they are typically masters of none. This childhood conditioning ensures that they will never be all they can be in any area of life.
Self-Sabotage Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
Because of their fear of success, Nice Guys are masters of self-sabotage. They undermine their success by:
- Wasting time.
- Making excuses.
- Not finishing projects.
- Caretaking other people.
- Having too many projects going at once.
- Getting caught up in chaotic relationships.
- Not setting boundaries.
Nice Guys are typically good at looking just good enough. But to be really great — to really rise to the top — invites too much unwanted attention and scrutiny. The bright lights of success threaten to illuminate their self-perceived cracks and flaws.
Consequently, Nice Guys find many creative ways to make sure they are never too successful. If they don’t start something, they won’t fail. If they don’t finish something, they won’t be criticized. If they have too much going on at once, they won’t have to do any one thing well. If they have enough good excuses, people won’t expect too much of them.
A Distorted Self Image Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
Because their needs were not met in a timely, judicious fashion in childhood, Nice Guys developed a distorted view of themselves. With a naive, immature logic they came to the conclusion that if their needs were not important, neither were they. This is the basis of their toxic shame. At their core, all Nice Guys believe they are not important or good enough.
If a Nice Guy was called on to take care of a critical, needy, or dependent parent, he received a double dose of toxic shame. A child believes he should be able to please a critical parent, fix the problems of a depressed parent, and meet the needs of a smothering parent. Unfortunately, he can’t.
As a result of their inability to fix, please, or take care of one or more parents, many Nice Guys developed a deep-seated sense of inadequacy. They believed they should be able to do the job. Nevertheless, they never could seem to do it right or good enough — mom was still depressed, dad was still critical.
This internalized sense of inadequacy and defectiveness is carried into adulthood. Some Nice Guys compensate by trying to do everything right. They hope that by doing so, no one will ever find out how inadequate they are. Other Nice Guys just give up before they try.
This feeling of inadequacy prevents Nice Guys from making themselves visible, taking chances, or trying something new. It keeps them in the same old rut, never seeing how talented and intelligent they really are. Everyone around them can see these things, but their distorted childhood lenses won’t let them accurately see their true potential and ability.
The result of this distorted self-image is an emotional and cognitive glass ceiling. This invisible lid prevents Nice Guys from being all they can be. If they do try to rise above it, they bump their heads and tumble down to more familiar territory.
Deprivation Thinking Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
Not having their needs adequately met in childhood created a belief for Nice Guys that there wasn’t enough of what they needed to go around. This deprivation experience became the lenses through which they viewed the world.
This paradigm of scarcity and deprivation makes Nice Guys manipulative and controlling. It causes them to believe they better hang on to what they’ve got and not take too many chances. It leads them to resent other people who seem to have what they lack.
Because of their deprivation thinking, Nice Guys think small. They don’t believe they deserve to have good things. They find all kinds of ways to make sure their view of the world is never challenged. They settle for scraps and think it is all they deserve. They create all kinds of rationalizations to explain why they will never have what they really desire. Because of their self-fulfilling beliefs, Nice Guys rarely live up to their potential or get what they really want in life.
Staying Stuck In Dysfunctional, But Familiar Systems Prevents Nice Guys From Getting the Life They Want
As stated in previous chapters, two major factors prevent Nice Guys from getting what they want in love. The first is that they tend to recreate familiar, yet dissatisfying relationships. They find partners who will help them create the same dysfunctional kinds of relationships they experienced as children. These men then frequently see themselves as being victims to the dysfunction of their partners. Nice Guys have a difficult time seeing that they were attracted to these people for a reason.
Second, Nice Guys rarely experience the kind of relationships they want because they are bad enders. When a healthy person would pack up and move on, Nice Guys just keep doing more of the same, hoping that something will miraculously change.
Nice Guys aren’t much different in their jobs. They are attracted to careers and work situations that allow them to recreate the dysfunctional roles, relationships, and rules of their childhood. They often see themselves as helpless victims to these situations. Rarely do they see why they need these systems to be the way they are and that they have the choice to leave.
Unconsciously recreating familiar family patterns in their jobs and careers keeps Nice Guys stuck and dissatisfied. While they are perpetuating the dysfunction of their childhood, they rarely do what they really want or rise to the top of their chosen vocation.