Niceness Reloaded

An unhappy woman once approached a psychologist for consultation. She had a problem about the lack of passion and engagement in her martial relationship. Her husband was a caring person but somehow she felt something lacking. The relationship seemed to have longevity but no life.

“Is your husband a nice person, that is, he has empathy, looks after you and is attentive to your needs.” The psychologist inquired.

“Yes he is. Also he keeps me in loop on all major decisions, is a good father and earns well. That is why I do not understand why I feel this constant lack. Am I too demanding counselor?” She wanted to know.

“No you are fine.” The Psychologist assured her. “It is he who is suffering. He is afflicted with something called “The nice guy syndrome”. Let me explain this to you in some detail.

See apart from fear, the biggest toxin we can carry in our being is Shame. Shame is when you appraise yourself as socially mis-adjusted, personally incapable or plain inferior. This low self esteem wherein you feel inadequate can be because of deficit of parental nurture when you were young or can be caused by any traumatic event in your adult life.

Now to deal with this toxic shame there are two masks a person can wear. In one you can become the big bully where you push others, shame them for their lack and generally be a jerk.

In second case, you become what we call the Nice Guy. The defining trait of a nice guy is that he is passive aggressive. Since he finds conflicts troublesome to handle because of his perceived incapability and thus wants to avoid them at all costs; so he does a covert contract with people he meets. The terms of this secret contract are: I will not cross you if you do not criticize me. So he will keep taking it when others do not adhere to his mental deal and then one fine day when he has had enough, he explodes.

Along with it, you see that he finds normal assertion of his needs difficult and keeps a mask of perfectionism wherein everybody says how good he is. These tactics allows him to create a mental trouble free world where he is the adored king.

Lastly the sexual life of Mr Nice Guy is also in a spin as he is not in touch with his needs and hence operates out of a mental world even in matters physical.

So you see, what you are lacking is connect with a genuine authentic human being as you are living with a masked and a defensive weakling”.

The woman was almost in tears listening to this. The pain of lack of a genuine connect welled up in her and became overwhelming. As she dabbed her eyes with the handkerchief, she inquired “ So, what is the solution to this problem, counselor”.

“Well it is not easy, as shame is a devious virus. He will have to work on his self-esteem to learn that his value is non-negotiable and thus he can assert himself more in situations as also embrace mild conflict as a standard condition of living an authentic life.

As he does that, he will learn to trust himself more and then gradually over time he can lower his defenses, to let the real person emerge from its hiding place.

Last mile on the highway to be authentic, would be when he can drop mask of his perfection enough to open up to accepting his imperfections. He will then be ripe for a fulfilling relationship.

It is then that you will be proudly able to tell your friends “Hey my husband is no longer a nice guy. He is a genuine man. ”

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