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The Man With No Spine

The NiceGuy Chronicles
Overcoming NiceGuy-itus

Overcoming "Niceguy-itus" Series

By John Russell

Article 2- How "niceguys" come about (and when they are ready to change)

I can say you were made a nice guy because you were severely bullied and unpopular in school, that you suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, alcoholic parents, a wounded inner child, absence of a "risk taking gene", raised too near magnetic field of high voltage line, have repressed memories of aliens giving you the anal probe, or your parents raised you according to Dr. Spock, etc. .

That wouldn't help you, it would just help you to feel helpless.

The niceguy is continually made in the present, forget the past. Your actions can change when your beliefs change, you can change who you are, in the present, from moment to moment.

Is it permanent change? no. You may have to challenge those beliefs defining you as a Niceguy every day of your life. When you neglect to do this you slip, as I myself have recently done. Don't expect a catharsis, don't expect that a few good months means you won't slip back into old patterns. How many alcoholics can go back to drinking in moderation and not get sucked right back in?

There aren't any easy answers, lets look at this insidious paradigm.

Being the "nice-guy" is needing others for validation, an inability to validate yourself, and nothing else. Without realizing it, you place yourself in an adversarial position with people when you do not need to be, even if it seems like the quest for a pat on the back isn't so bad...it is... And I'll explain:

First of all, when you do get the praise, it isn't ever enough. You know this, don't you? Some of you who call yourself "nice-guys" get appreciation, praise, and professional recognition on a fairly regular basis. It feels good for the moment, and then you are alone again and you do not know what to do with yourself. Perhaps you forget the people who appreciated you and dwell on the people who you can't get appreciation from. If everyone in the world you encountered told you that you were wonderful, validated everything about you, would it be enough? Would it mean anything? Many niceguys who think having a girlfriend can satisfy that need are as insecure when they get a girlfriend -- even one centered around them like a Stepford-wife. There seems to be a long list of suicidal, alcoholic, or drug addicted celebrity sex symbols and rock stars who were literally worshipped by groupies 24 hours a day. They couldn't get enough approval, still miserable, they didn't approve of themselves.

If you know that you can never get enough approval, that fishing for more of it will only give you temporary relief, you are behaving like an addict who can't get enough of a drug.

Like an addict, you will find yourself doing things that make you feel worse about yourself just to get the fix you think you need. Addicts sometimes become whores, they sometimes become con men, and many times they become beggars.

  1. A niceguy addicted to the validation of others is like a whore sometimes, to get praise they will attempt to "seduce" people with the "I'll do or be anything you want" persona, you try to make people feel good, hoping to get the "fix" of approval they need in return. If you do anything for people, can't say no, let yourself get used, but won't step out of that role because occasionally you get a few crumbs of approval, you fall into this category. You are not the victim of the person using you, you are a victim of your own addiction to needing their approval.

  2. A niceguy addicted to validation of others is like a con-man sometimes, to get validation from people who won't be seduced by "being nice", they will manipulate ruthlessly to try to gain control over the person to get the response from them they want. Read the articles of the "Emotional Blackmailer" on this board, if it reminds you of yourself you are in this category. Any guy who thinks that they can use "neuro-linguistics" to "seduce" people into liking them falls under this category also (and under the gullible category as well).

  3. A niceguy addicted to validation of others is like a beggar sometimes. When the above attempts to get validation doesn't work, a cry for pity will go out. For the niceguy pity is like cheap thunderbird to the alcoholic that once only drank champagne. Pity is that validation "fix" from others that is the least validating of all, it's nasty, as if to say "please, acknowledge that you care about me, even if to tell me how helplessly pathetic I am and how sorry you are about it"

If you have reached that last point, bro, you've hit rock-bottom.

There is also the "Victim Identity". If people can never give you enough of what you want, they are going to get cruel. If nine people who gave you "validation" wasn't enough, you will find yourself spinning the wheel fortune to try getting validation from that tenth person who might just as easily play with your mind or rip you a new asshole. It's easy to feel like the victim when this happens, your addiction to approval puts people in a no-win situation though if they can't give you enough, so you aren't a blameless victim of them when you drain them. A heroin addict feels like a victim if their parents/partner won't give them money for more drugs and changes the locks on the doors, but these loved ones are just protecting themselves from being the victim of an addict ruining their lives.

WHEN A NICEGUY IS READY TO CHANGE:

Alanon has a phrase "you have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired" in order to change. It has to get to the point to where your own "defense mechanism" arguments sound stale and boring to your ears when you say them, and that when go through the motions to get the approval you seek you don't feel any pleasure from it when you are getting it. Only then you might be ready.

If you reach the point to where you want to step out of that niceguy role, you'll find that you don't know who you are at all because you were trying to be everything for everyone. What's left behind that's "real" when all that niceguy pretense is removed?

Not much.

It's common to relapse into being a niceguy repeatedly because there isn't much else to who you are, just as long term addicts to a drug can lose so much of themselves to a drug that there is no character, personal goals, dreams, etc.. when they quit. Your only dream has been to please people and get appreciation in return, all of your other goals have been built around that. The fact is, underneath the pretense you are going to be shallow and there is no way around it, and if you try to hide that shallowness again under pretense you are never going to develop any real depth in the future.

How long does it take to get some real depth? I don't know, how long does it take a child to become an adult? You have to develop at your own pace like everyone else does, should you have to be a deep wonderful person or else feel ashamed? Perhaps that expectation of yourself is the problem. In a world of six-billion people, 99.999999....% of the inhabitants will not care if it takes a few months or years of you being shamelessly shallow (without pretense) but slowly building and developing an identity that doesn't depend on a pat on the back.

I suppose belief in a higher power can't hurt in that quest.

PS- I am taking a break for an indefinite period on this series. When I started it, I thought I had the whole niceguy thing licked, it can only be licked one day at a time in the beginning though. Knowing the facts is good, but figuring out how to act on them is more important. I need to do more of that before I write the next article, or I'll just be full of crap. If I have helped you (the niceguy) to understand where you are going wrong don't wait for me to figure out what to do next, start trying to figure out what you need to do differently on a daily basis for yourself now, and act on it.

Copyright© John Russell 2000, All Rights Reserved

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