Do you know who you are? An even better question is, do you act like who you are? That’s a complicated question. Read it again.
Do you act like who you are?
The best definition of a Nice Guy that I’ve come across is “a man who thinks it’s not okay to be who he is”. In other words, he thinks he’s somehow broken, a failure, worthless, less than others. He think he’s really a horrible person inside, and so he tries very hard to hide that from other people, lest they see his horribleness and judge him and reject him.
There’s a psychological term for this. It’s called shame.
Shame is different from guilt. Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I am something bad.”
Shame-bound people personalize everything negative that happens around them. They feel responsible for causing (and fixing) other people’s bad moods and upset feelings. They fault solely themselves for failed relationships, as if the other person had nothing to do with it.
Shame turns people into chameleons. They begin to act like someone they think others want them to be. They’ll avoid making waves in any way possible, whether that means never saying “no”, never expressing controversial thoughts or feelings, never enforcing boundaries, never taking risks, or never admitting that they have needs and wants of their own.
Shame-bound people are horribly dishonest. This is the biggest problem with Nice Guys.
It’s also the most effective way to overcome the Nice Guy Syndrome: deal directly with the shame. This requires a Nice Guy to start being vulnerable with safe people, and reveal scary things about himself. It requires a commitment to putting himself first and meeting his own needs. It requires some deep soul-searching, difficult self-acceptance, and a determination to become a person he respects and likes.
It isn’t easy. I’m not sure it can be done without help. If this is you, reach out and find someone to help and support you. It might be a good therapist, a manliness mentor (like me), or just a reliable trusted friend.
However you do it, find a way to convince yourself that you are a worthwhile and valuable man just as you are, and then start daring to authentically express the amazing person that is You.
It’s the difference between being truly happy and living in oppressive shadows for the rest of your life. It’s the beginning of becoming a Real Man.