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10 Childhood Traumas that cause Nice Guy Syndrome

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Being a nice guy is actually a form of mental illness. It’s the result of coping mechanisms we created in childhood and teen years to deal with traumatic events and painful situations. When good-hearted boys are faced with emotional harm and lack the tools to properly process, confront and deal with it, we come with an act: a way of behaving that keeps us safe, makes us feel loved, and avoids difficulties.

In this podcast, I shared the top 10 traumatic experiences that happen to boys that lead them to become Nice Guys as adult men, and I expand on the theory that Nice Guy Syndrome is always a result of childhood trauma.


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Full transcript (unedited)

Why do some guys end up as nice guys? What is the cause of nice guy syndrome? today’s podcast, we’re going to be looking into that I’m going to share what I’ve learned from working with these guys for many years and of course from from being one of these guys my entire life think very few men become nice guys suddenly and spontaneously in adulthood, even though the the nice guy behavior might kick in at a certain point in time, like in their first relationship, or when they first leave high school, go into the world, the underlying elements were always there. I’ve never in my career, or my life, seen a guy spontaneously become one after being like something completely different, something else entirely. So I believe quite firmly at this point that it is rooted in childhood, as all things are. And it is a strategy to deal with childhood trauma. Perhaps the trauma may have occurred in high school. You know, when you transition into your peer group being the most important people in your life, from you know, your parents previously being the most important. But I think for the most part, parenting is where it’s happening, or at least early school experiences, which again, is still quite tied to parenting. I saw an interview with Dr. gavel, Marty, the trauma specialist. And he was asked, you know, can anyone really have trauma after childhood? Is it always about childhood? You know, or can you have it afterwards? And the interviewer said, you know, what about when people go to war, and they come back traumatized? And he said, and I haven’t confirmed this, but he said, Well, what you find is that if 100 People go to war, and 20, come back, traumatized, even though the whole 100 had the same experience. And of those 20, you’ll find that they all have childhood trauma anyway, and the war just triggered off their trauma. So he believes all trauma is childhood related. They’re basically if you have a great childhood, you cannot be traumatized. You just can’t you’ll get over it, you’ll heal, you’ll grow through things that are traumatic, even horrible things like going through a war. And I have a tendency to believe them with everything I’ve observed in psychology. So I think it’s really helpful to see nice guy syndrome as a childhood strategy to traumatic events, which is why it doesn’t work very well being an ICER doesn’t work very well, because it’s something that a kid came up with, to deal with things like parents and other kids. It’s not something that works well in the adult world and feta backfires quite badly in the adult world. Because of course, a plan that a kid made up isn’t going to go well. Now as a coach, and as a friend, I’ve helped literally 1000s of men recover in some way make some progress from being nice guys, and to being confident and authentic, you know, and it isn’t a huge range of stories that I’m hearing. Okay, these guys don’t have a wildly varied childhood experience, they basically all go through mostly the same shit, with some exceptions, but even the exceptions, a whole category of nice guys go through the same exception. So what I’m going to share is 10, that I thought of off the top of my head, there may be more than 10. But the 10 that I see the most consistently, and the 10 that I think have the biggest impact and kind of, if you have one on this list, you only need one, you’ve got a real shot at becoming a nice guy. And of course, if you have many on the list, which most of my clients do, then you’ve got almost no choice but to become a nice guy. So these won’t all apply to you. But if one does, that could explain everything and only takes one children are very sensitive. They’re very absorbent, they’re very malleable, you know, you can change a child’s trajectory with a single sentence is so sensitive to change, so easy to adjust a child to manipulate them to control them. So it doesn’t take much to cause trauma. And it can even be something that’s misinterpreted by the child. It wasn’t even a negative thing, but they heard it wrong, and so on. So it’s amazing how sort of hair trigger sensitive children are and how easy it is to fuck them up, basically. Now I’ve started this conversation, assuming that I’m talking to people are quite familiar with nice guy syndrome, but just in case you aren’t, I’ve got to emphasize what I mean by it, which is a guy usually a man who engages in consistent and frequent people pleasing behaviors, or at least the passive version of avoiding disapproval. So they’re the seek approval or avoid disapproval as a primary motive, especially when they’re in obviously social situations. So they will compromise their own values. They might not even know what their values are. They will give up being honest and brave in order to get good reactions from people. They’re so obsessed with being alive. liked him with controlling the emotional state of themselves and everyone around them. That’s nice guy syndrome, because there’s more to it, I’m not going to go through the whole thing. But when I say a nice guy, I don’t just mean someone who’s like confidently generous and gregarious and enjoy his life, I mean, somebody who uses niceness to control other people’s emotions, so that he feels safe. He also got understand before I go into the list, that nice guy syndrome is just one possible response to childhood trauma, and the kinds of traumas that I’ll be talking about today. And not everyone reacts to it this way, you know, two guys can go through the exact same childhood and go quite different directions with how they respond to it. So not everyone is going to become a nice guy, if they have these experiences, there’s something inherent in nice guys that we have in common. And I think it’s something good. I think it’s just a genuine, pure belief that only a child can have, you know, need only children can have pure beliefs, you know, this kind of purity, of wishing the best for others of having so much empathy that actually harms you to see other people harmed, to have a sense of righteousness and fairness, about the way people should behave, or kind of innate morality, about people being good in how they shouldn’t be bad where possible. Now, of course, there’s gonna be lots of different takes on this. But generally, believing there’s something harms another person is probably wrong. If something helps another person, that’s probably right. I think the people end up a nice guy syndrome or children who started with a basic moral philosophy of right and wrong, you know, helpful versus harmful. Now, there are plenty of kids who don’t mind harming someone else, or selfish, or particularly bothered by other people, and apathetic and they’re going to go in a different direction to these childhood traumas, they’re not going to develop nice guy syndrome, because they’re not going to have that innate kind of want to be good. And so that’s the driving force. So the tragedy of nice guy syndrome was one of the guys actually genuinely nice underneath all the bullshit, what you’re seeing is a kind of murky, poisoned, tainted mutated version of their niceness coming out, you know, just absolutely infected with neediness and approval seeking and manipulation and emotional controlling techniques. But if you were to wipe all that away, this person will still be good put it this way, every Nice Guy help recover, still is a nice person at the end of it. Every single one without exception, I’ve never created a jerk. You know, I’ve never turned a guy into a total asshole, a selfish prick and never happens, they but they become way more confident and assertive, and self respecting, but they still the primary focus is that everybody has a good life. You know, they just don’t do us from such a sort of manipulative, passive, weak self serving place anymore. So like I said, other people can react with different strategies, psychopathy, criminality, drug addiction, isolation. You know, there’s lots of ways that people can react to trauma differently in nice guys, just one type of reaction. It gives me some hope and people because nice guy, such a common response as well. Whereas criminality is such a rare response, you know, at least, probably less than 1% of the global population are truly criminals. And, you know, one 3% or, you know, psychopathic in some way. So most people are actually kind of inherently good. And so most people, I do believe the majority of people in the world are people pleasers. I don’t think I’ll ever be out of work. You know what I mean? I think it’s kind of, it’s even more prevalent than depression. I should also note that there are guys who call themselves nice guys. Well, they’re even that kind of media portrayal of nice guys as these in cells who are entitled to a woman and hate them and end up murdering them and full misogyny and bitter and those aren’t nice guys. Okay, they call themselves nice guys. In the same way that man haters call themselves feminists, if they’re not, they don’t count. They’re not part of the group. Because they rarely treat others well. They don’t sacrifice themselves others they hate other people rather than themselves. This actually disqualifies them as being nice guys. Nice guys. You know, they might be bitter and resentful about their lack of success with a woman but they blame themselves. Right? They worship woman they don’t hate them. If you hate women, you know, if you see women as inferior to you, and and you despise them. You’re not a nice guy, you’re something else. So let’s get into, like I said, these are 10 Off the top of my head. I haven’t nailed all of them, but they come up a lot. First is a chaotic or unpredictable parent. Unpredictability is a thing that will come through a lot. nice guy syndrome is about control, creating predictable, reliable, smooth and problem free as Robert Glover would say. So often in the childhood, you’re going to see unpredictability and chaos and the kind of walking on eggshells that happens when you just don’t know what the you know the rules are you don’t know how it supposed to go never plays out the same way twice. You know any trauma specialists will tell you when it comes to parenting, their predictability and stability. The simplest and most effective things you can establish as a parent, if you can get that going, if you can make it so that your kid knows the routine and knows the rules, and doesn’t have to guess anything, they’re going to feel safe, most of the time assuming that the routine rules aren’t also harmful, but what you get is you get a kid who might feel the need to manage the appearance emotions in order to manage their own emotions, they basically if I can make sure my parents are having a good time, then I can have a good time. And if I can’t do that, if I can’t manage my parent, it’s hell at home, you know, I don’t even want to be there. It can be also to the extreme of violence. You know, I had one client where his dad would just randomly beat the shit out of him almost every day for nothing for imagined crimes for no reason, sometimes. So he’s just constantly on age, just waiting for violence, but much more common is just emotional instability. You know, parents are just, there’s no rhyme or reason to why they feel the negative emotions that they express, the child is led to believe are allowed to believe that the they are the cause of those emotions, you know, the parents don’t take responsibility for their own emotional instability. So kind of mama gets, you’re driving me crazy. Rather than going, I have struggled to manage my own anger, it’s not your fault, you know, the good feeling like I am the cause of it. And even if you don’t directly say that to a kid, which a lot of parents unfortunately do, but even when you don’t, you know, until you’re about eight or nine years old, your brain hasn’t formed certain functions. And you know, one function that you get a bit older, that you get when you’re a bit older is that you understand you’re not center of universe, that other people have their own lives, and you they have nothing to do with you, you don’t control them. But before, there you are the center, you’re everything. So if something’s happening at home, it’s somehow related to you. And you’re sure of that if your mom’s pissed off. Either you poster off, or it’s your job to fix it or something at some direct relationship to you. That’s how children think. That’s why parents need to be very careful about taking responsibility for their own feelings around their children. Because the default is the child will blame themselves. So I, you know, one person I worked with for many years, had a mother who was later diagnosed with borderline personality. And she was kind of like, just roll the dice and see what you get, like, she was so random, with her moods, you know, she could be loving one minute and then shouting at you, the next and all you’ve done has been sitting there, you know, she could take you out for ice cream, and then leave you in the carpark and make you walk home because she suddenly changed was just so unpredictable. And you will my client found my client who is also on the autism spectrum, there’s certain things she could do to reduce the unpredictability. You know, she could placate her mother, she could do things that entertained her mother and get her to the point where most of the time the feelings were good. And it gives her the impression they are finally found something that allows me to survive at home. So you can see this playing out into adulthood is just as soon as someone gets upset about you, and you don’t understand why you immediately just instantly try to fix it. And you try to prevent those kinds of feelings from happening because they’re associated with just horrific experiences in childhood. Number two emotionally distant father or lack of a father, the more more common is the father’s the ease in the picture, but just in proximity, I’ve found that guys are actually raised solely by mothers, they’re not so likely to become nice guys. If they have bitterness and trauma, it’s more likely to be something misogynistic. Or they go down the path of like, actually not liking mean whereas nice guys tend to have the dead deer but the dad is a really poor role model for healthy masculinity. In fact, I don’t know any nice guys who report having a role model as a father, you know, a role model of what it means to be a healthy man. So generally you get the emotionally distant father or the emotionally unpredictable father which we’ve already covered. But he’s kind of impossible to please because you actually don’t really know how he feels about you ever. You know you might occasionally say there’s good on your boy and but you don’t know if he means that he says that to everybody he’s just quite often nice guys have nice guy fathers. They have people pleaser in the house, usually the father or the mother sometimes or both. So they get that kind of modeling like they see the father interact with the mother as the submissive passive thing that Okay, so that’s what men are supposed to do. You know, and that all gets registered. They got this Dare we just like you have to have to do so much to get anything out of them to get any sort of love out of them. You have to put on such a show you have to be a really high performer or really entertaining and you know kids who go the other way you have to get in trouble and that’s a different path. Nice guy but you know, one of my clients is dad was Just a Class A UK nice guy, you know, everything came out of his mouth a few times he did speak with just bog standard small talk cliches, yeah, how’s your day going? You know, weather is looking good today. I think the crickets on this afternoon late, no personality, nothing and just bowing down to the mother and just having no service, no spine. And the bullet, you know, the boy is a man, now he’s in his early 20s, he still doesn’t know, if his dad loves him, he still doesn’t know how his dad feels better, he still has to do so much to get even like a hint of any kind of real feelings out of his dad. So when you got a father like that, you have to try really hard to get love. And that’s where you get to try hardness of nice guy syndrome. Number three, again, going along the lines of unpredictability inconsistent rules, and unfair punishments, especially for being just yourself. Being curious, being honest, doing a bit of risk taking. You know, if you find that like, you’re walking on eggshells, a being in a foreign country, you don’t know what the laws are, that you keep getting in trouble. You know, the thing where like, something was fine yesterday, and now to crime just because your parents mood changed, or, you know, my own experience that one of my great sort of bitterness, kind of experiences from childhood was the way I’d find out what the rules are, was by breaking them. So I was I’d go to jail for like a first offense. You know what I mean? Like, if I did something that I didn’t know, was against the rules, I would get punished as if I did know, I get punished as if I was deliberately flouting the rules and rules would just be made up on the spot, you know, maybe I’d go into the pantry, and I’d stand up on a barrel to get a packet of chips, suddenly standing on the barrel is against the rules, something I couldn’t possibly predict. And now I’m in trouble because I stood on the barrel, you know, or I would get home five minutes late, I don’t even have a watch. And suddenly, I’m grounded for two weeks. I didn’t even know lateness was a thing. You know, I got in trouble like that a lot. I spent a lot of my childhood grounded for very minor crimes. And it was very obvious to me that this was not happening to the other kid. So it felt very inconsistent felt very unfair, or overly harsh, strict, strict parenting, generally, a nice guy syndrome go together hand in hand, you know, the only way for a nice guy to actually have a life when he’s got strict parents is to become dishonest, is to pretend to be good and be bad on the side. And so you know, the studies that clearly show the more strict the parenting is, the more the children lie. And that was definitely my experience, I had very strict parents who I have a great relationship with now, because they’ve changed and I’ve changed significantly. But back then I, you know, it was like a tour of duty, you know, the rules are so, so many rules, I couldn’t possibly keep track of them all. Sometimes I’d be sitting on a chair in the lounge, I’d be like, Oh, my legs on this chair at this time of day, like I had no idea what the next thing would be. Because my parents was stressed and broken, they’ll just take that out on me without realizing that I’m sitting there thinking that there’s some structure to this when there wasn’t, there’s just the mood swings. There’s some other stuff going on in the background as well. That kind of thing leads you to just be very unsure of yourself being like, pending doing that you’re always going to get in trouble and a need to try and prevent that trouble from finding you. And that’s where you get that Placatory element of nice guy syndrome. like nice guys are always trying to anticipate and prevent negative emotions because they associate people feeling upset with being in trouble. And I think that there’s like just so many rules, you know, when a nice guy gets into a relationship, he’ll imagine all these rules about what he can and can’t do and say, and become quite passive and weak and often not speak his mind not do what he feels like doing, you know, he’ll sacrifice his friendships and his hobbies. Because in some part in some way, he thinks I’ll get in trouble if I do the things that I want to do, because that’s what happened when I was a kid. Nice Guys, always, you know, there was a problems with binging and addiction as well, various forms, and maybe it’s sugar, maybe it’s drugs, maybe it’s Netflix. It’s because when they get out of the house, they finally allowed to do stuff. And they just you know overcorrect. Now as me with sugar and addiction that I’m currently battling and maybe winning, but I was only allowed to have one treat per week. You know, like one chocolate bar per week I’m talking about when I’m like 19 years old. And all my friends are just they’re allowed to eat whatever they feel like and they get their own money to buy it and so on. So I did this extremely strict thing. So when I finally got home, I was just like, Oh, sugar finally I can do whatever I want, you know, in nice guys tend to have their like black and white fallacy problem. So if you’re really strict on a child, I tend to be BIG RULE breakers later on, just to kind of make up for lost time. And then you get that kind of paradox of the nice guy who’s actually doing a lot of bad stuff, at least bad to himself. And before peer bullying and ostracism, you know, being picked on being left out, not fitting in. These are common complaints with my clients from their early social experiences. But it’s not so common that it happens to everyone I personally did not have this experience. Later, you know, I always had a peer group, and late primary school and throughout high school, it was only later on, I realized that peer group wasn’t quite as loving as I thought they were, but I really felt like I was in the group. Now that’s actually quite kind of a rare experience for nice guys. Many more, probably more than 50% actually report feeling like they’re on their own a lot, that they couldn’t fit in that they were the weird one, or they only had a couple of friends and their friends with the other weird kids and so on. All the way through to outright bullying being targeted and in brutally punished and picked on by other kids, or by their own parents, or by their older brothers, that kind of thing. So you get this overall picture of you don’t belong, you know, good enough for us. You’re not cool enough to be in the group. And it can lead one of two ways for nice guy. So you get the either the wallflower type of nice guy where he realizes, hey, if nobody notices me, nothing bad happens. So they’re still ostracized, and they don’t fit in, but at least no punishments coming their way. And they just kind of sneak away into the background. You know, the more introverted types have a tendency to go that way, because they don’t have the kind of extroverted power. Extroverts like myself, eventually, if they’re lucky enough, a lot of them do they cottoned on to something that does get approval and does get them in with the group. You know, for me, it was being funny. I found that being funny got me on with the group of my peers. And I found that being academically talented got me in the group with adults. So I found a way to make kids like me in a way to make adults like me, and oscillate between being the funny can the Smart kid depending on the audience, it was a tough one because being a smart kid, with other kids wasn’t so popular. So I had to dumb it down and play it down, and pretend that I wasn’t as smart as I was, and that I didn’t read as many books as I did, and so on. And then with, you know, with the adults, it wasn’t that I had to not be funny, but I had to sophisticate the funniness, you know, I’d use adult humor, and kind of like, meet them at their level. And that’s, that’s generally what happens as a nice guy finds a strategy to either fit in, or at least not stand out in a negative way, and continues that strategy into adulthood. So you get the Chandler Bangstyle. Guys is always funny all the time and ever seems to grow up the Peter Pan thing. What I found is an interesting side note that I think’s related is many, many, many, many of the nice guys I’ve worked with report moving a lot when they were younger. So lots of different schools. You know, I personally had three schools by the time I was seven. And a lot of the nice guys, you know, when I run a group program or something, I say raise your hand, if you move more than two or three times before you attain, you know, all the hands go up. That’s actually really disruptive to move a lot when your child is young. And I plan to try and avoid doing that as much as possible with my own kid or children. Because it takes time for a kid to establish a clique in a group and in group of friends. And if you disrupt that, they had to start over again. But the problem is if they had to start over again, they’re the new kid who remembers being the new kid at school? Is there anything fucking more horrifying than walk into a school knowing it’s already established? You know, I left my first school I think after six months, I was halfway through the year that me a little five and a half year old or whatever, I was going to a new school everything’s already established, all on my own, trying to fit in. I mean, kids and their crew and my first school. I don’t remember that well, but I just remember just feeling intimidated a lot. Not by the kids, but just by the situation I was in new kid at school, you know? Am I sick second school, I just couldn’t find a friend. I had like two mates. Mom was my neighbor who was just friend by default. And then there’s one other kid who was also ostracized and me and this other kid would hang out with me and one more and we were all just that you know, we’re the Freaks and Geeks. And if one of them was off sick from school or something else, but I know and hang out with because the group’s already established I couldn’t when my when I didn’t have social skills, Buchan five and a half years old. And I had like break into a group and take over leadership, I don’t know shit. And then I got to my third school. And I can’t remember why it worked out. But partly it was a smaller school. So there was only one group to be part of there helped. But also I discovered being funny. And once I discovered being funny, plus, I think my dad coached the sports team that helped as well sort of gave me an in, I managed to finally establish a friend group, but that establishment was kind of luck. There’s a lot of nice guys, that doesn’t happen too. So nice guy syndrome is ultimately a syndrome to try and get love, isn’t it, it’s a strategy to try and get love, and to try and feel loved. So you can see why somebody was ostracized, bullied, lift out, might develop such a strategy number five, being judged on performance and achievements and being punished for being less than so being compared to others being held to a higher standard than the other kids. You know, this kind of thing can lead to nice guy syndrome in terms of trying to seek approval from older people, like your parents, and teachers and such, I had one of numerous clients who are Chinese, you know, second generation in another country. So you might get a Chinese kiwi, but his parents are still like, full on Chinese. They don’t even speak English and conservative Chinese traditional Chinese. And you know, I had one client, I remember that really well. Like, I don’t think he ever heard words of love from his parents ever had proper like, crazy Tiger parents. And he came home once and he had gotten like 99% on a spelling test. And his dad just said, what was the other 1% top marks in the class and it still wasn’t good enough for dead. You know, and that kind of thing happened a lot constantly just being told, you know, I wish you were as smart as your brothers. You’re a waste of time, you’re horrible things like that. But it can be even more subtle than that. You know, just like they wish you’re more like your brother, like that’s devastating to say to a kid. So look at Kathy’s son he’s doing so well. Why can’t you be more like Kathy so you know, and that’s when the comparison to others thing starts for nice guys of like, Fuck, I’m in competition. The love is scarce, you have to earn it. Only the winner takes home the trophy and everybody else losers. And again, you get the either approval seeker or disapproval avoider. So the approval seeker someone like myself, thanks, actually, I think I can win this competition. I’m going to go hard and get the love and beat the other kids. Because maybe you got a natural talent in the classroom, or you got sports or some way that you can impress people. But the people who don’t naturally find a way to impress others, they’ll be like, I’ll just try to pretend I’m not in the competition. You know, I’ll just try to go on notice so that I don’t spark disapproval and comparison with others. You know, but, you know, I mean, from my own childhood, I was forced to do like two hours of homework every night like not locked in my room, but certainly shut in there. And I couldn’t find another kid who had to go through there. I was like, Why do I have such intense pressure on me to do well at school? Even though I’m already doing well, I’m already in the top class like, when’s it going to be enough? When can they just relax guy, you’re smart enough that Alou? You know, they were trying their best, but it was really like the fact that I was like, I felt like I was in competition. But there was no grand prize. I couldn’t win. Every time I did bid, I said to do bill, I got it. I got the award for ducks and my primary school. I mean, there wasn’t a lot of competition. But ducks is basically the smartest kid in the school. I got that award that got me into the smartest, like brainy group during my year high school. And all my parents did and responses up the workload. They keep putting more pressure on me to do well academically. Which just made no sense to me. I’m like I’m at the top can I fucking cruise? Like, do you want me to do be better than the teachers like be one of those prodigy kids who goes to university when they’re 14 Like I’m not going to be there? I’ve maxed out I’m not actually that smart I’m just good at pleasing others who study so being judged on performance I have in the love given or withheld based on how well you achieve it. You know, certain things not like not moral things, not principles, not values, but external socially approved off things like Are you a good kid and other people’s eyes, you know, view if you are judged in such a way, nice guy syndromes, the response. And number six, and measurement not so common. But only not so common because people weren’t aware that that’s what was happening. Now in measurement is also known as emotional incest. And what it is, it’s where one of your parents has a relationship with you that’s not parent and child but something closer to partnership. Now, I don’t mean sexual abuse, though that can also be part of it. It’s not so much thing I’m referring to. What I’m talking about is Quite often the mother and the son. Like I say, most of my clients are men. And the issues they have with their parents are generally quite gender specific, you know, there’s a set of issues that happen with the Father and a set of issues that happen with the mother. And emotional incest is one of the mother issues, you know, especially in broken homes, you know, especially when there’s a divorce, and it’s just the mother and son spending a lot of time together. Or, you know, they’re not divorced, but the marriages for shit and the dads, you know, deadbeat or whatever, the mom will form a relationship with the son where, you know, she’s telling him her secrets, he’s oversharing she’s saying, like, I wish I could find a man like you, you know, wish all the boys were like you and you know, you’re nothing like your father. Or even worse, like, whenever you misbehave, like you’re just like your father, you know, that’s kind of like, comparing you to someone who was her partner, or is her partner, which is a weird comparisons, like, we’re on the same category, I’m your son, compare media, your lover, you know, but just generally, like sort of the connection is one sided, you are maybe treated like a therapist, you’re expected to, like soothe your mother’s emotions, that kind of thing. And that can create somebody who, you know, worships woman, somebody sees it as their job to make woman feel good, as their job to make woman feel happy, and to listen to their problems, and you know, take care of them and fix them and so on somebody who has a codependency relationship with their mother is likely to project that onto future woman. So again, not so common, but very powerful. And then if you think about it, you might find that it was true, even though you’ve never thought about it before. Though, it is a horrible thing to think about. You know, to face the fact that your, your parent treated you like a partner, even if you know, there wasn’t a sexual element to it can be quite, quite a disgusting feeling. But it’ll help you understand like, Why am I always looking for a partner who’s like my mother? Or why do I treat women like they’re a princess? And I’m a servant? Like, what are ways that they met dynamic come from? Why am I being the man in the relationship? Why am I being a therapist? Well have a look at how you and your mom get on. Number seven, this one’s an interesting one might be more common than I give a credit for. But you can actually have a relatively decent childhood, but you have these random small events that are very powerful and significant. And the way they’re interpreted and the way they’re handled, leads you to develop nice guy syndrome. So there are some nice guys who actually like maybe I’ve even met their parents or heard the parents described on my Yeah, I mean, there’s some things here and there. But I think your parents all right, and they actually might be my parents as well. Like, like I said, my parents probably too strict on me. I was judged on performance. My dad was emotionally distant until wasted later my life. There’s some of the elements there. But that might have not been the reason why I became a nice guy, because there were other things that happen that I have such powerful, quite traumatic memories about, that I think really shaped particularly how I interact with women, and how I viewed woman. And also what I thought it meant to be a good person and a good boy, you know, for one, you know, I’ve heard a lot of my male clients describe a powerful moment in their early childhood, you know, before the age of 10. Where they were led to believe that sexuality from a man is bad and harmful. It can be as small as watching a sitcom where it always looks like the woman has to give up six and that the man is like begging, sleazy guy trying to get it and looks like it’s some burden on the woman. It can just be something subtle like that we allow our men hurt woman with the sexuality. And you’re not just thinking about sex isn’t the act of penetration is think about being sexual, being romantic, showing interest showing attraction, all of that on one category to get anything like a bit of shut that down. You know, look how much it hurts people. It can be an event like that, like, There’s one story I won’t. I’ve already done a piece on it, but these girls came up to me when I was in primary school. I’m just fucking around my friends and they said, Oh, this girl likes you. You know, I won’t say her name. It says she likes you. You know like little kids do lay some likes you you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re like seven you don’t know what the fuck you don’t I don’t know how old I was somewhere. 819 Something like that. And I just spontaneously blurted something out something that I didn’t even understand what I said. But I said I will tell her I want to fuck her then. Which sounds horrible when you see her here man. So I had like that. But I didn’t even know what fucking was right there would I thought people rub their bellies together. I didn’t know about penetration or the like bits and pieces of it. I you know, I was born before Internet porn and understanding. Right? So they screamed and ran away, which instantly went made me go oh, I said something wrong. I’m fucking in trouble. I don’t know. What now? Exactly, but I fucked up, I didn’t have a chance to like reel them back in. I know, I’m just kidding or whatever it was over. But the way that was handled, I was humiliated and shamed. You know, I had to watch this video on sexual harassment, I had to write letters of apology to her and to her parents. My parents united, they heard a one sided story from the school came down on me really hard. I was basically treated like I’d actually sexually assaulted the skill, when actually I just said something that I didn’t even understand. I wasn’t trying to be sexual at all. Now, I’m not trying to diminish the effect of would have had on the girl, you know, obviously, given the reaction, she took it pretty badly, and I feel really bad for her. If only I’d had a chance to talk it out with this. I’ve only had been moderated better. Have a teacher got together and said, Daniel, weren’t you mean when he said they’re like, I fucking don’t know what I mean? Really, you know? And she’d been there. And we talked it through and just said, Look, I was nervous because you liked me and stolen, those words just came out, and I would never harm me. And so you know, that conversation might have happened and it might have gone better for her too. Who knows how traumatized she was from that experience. But the way they handled it, my lesson was never be sexual. It hurts people, you know, and combined with lots of other little elements. I was like, Okay, I’ll never fuckin doing that again. And I spend most of my 20s Completely sexless directly as a result of that one experience, you know, and a lot of nice guys have one experience, you know, they boldly ask a girl out, and they just chose the wrong girl just publicly humiliate them, you know what I mean? Or they just, you know, I had one parent or one client overheard his mom talk about how men are sleazy, and he worshipped as man loved as much. And he goes, alright, I’d never want to be one of those men, because, but he doesn’t know we sat down. So I look, that’s what we mean by sleazy. Most guys aren’t actually like this. And as long as you do this, and so on, you know, nobody explained that he had to figure it out for himself. And so he figured out like, okay, just don’t talk to girls at all to do it. So it’s amazing. Like I said, Here, trigger sensitivity, a small event can turn into a nice guy syndrome, because no one’s there to kind of come and collect the pieces. And there’s not enough sort of counterweight. You don’t have like a powerful role model as a father or something, you know, counterweight, the little bits and pieces, see little things won’t affect a kid if they’ve got a lot of positive influence to counteract it. But again, doesn’t have other positive influences, or has other negative ones that are aligned with us, then the kids got no chance, right? They’re going to be massively affected. Alright, number eight, the culture of man hating feminism. Always been told it’s bad to be masculine in one way or another. You know, when I was younger, I definitely remember kind of messaging about men are rapists. You know, I didn’t even really know what rape was as a kid late I understood it as a teenager. But again, there’s there’s more very strong messaging that just even a guy showing interest in the guild somehow Hamza and Amina just inherently harmful, it’s just bad to be a man. And what boys do is they look at all this messaging and they go, Well, I can’t help but be a guy. So I’m just going to be ashamed of myself forever, that sort it will do that. But what can I do to like minimize how much of a guy I am, you know, how can I reduce the harm that I’m causing and so they start to observe you know, the behaviors that are associated with men that masculine behaviors, you know, guys being assertive guys being rude. Guys being violent, there’s things that they are definitely harmful, but there’s other ones that are less so like being assertive isn’t objectively harmful, but if it goes into the category of masculinity, the little boy goes, Well, that one’s out. I feel so much more comfortable and they start getting this feedback you know, girls say Oh, you’re such a nice guy. You’re so lovely and they’re like, oh, turning off the man show really does work you know. And that was my experience the the less manly I was the better feedback I got from especially from females and guys didn’t really have much feedback at all. Plus, I was playing a different role with everybody so it’d be a bit harder with me and yeah, go play rugby and joke about shit. But with girls I was actually changed my voice to be softer. You know, I used to call my gentle voice talk probably like how most therapists talk they go the base out so even taking the base out of my voice I just like castrated myself as much as possible and lots and lots of nice guys do this because they can’t figure out like what exactly the bad bit about being a man is so they just delete the whole thing you know, baby with the bathwater, never realizing in the first place that the messaging they’re getting is not accurate. They’re getting it from people who hate men. You know, it’s not a good place to get your information about men in there don’t have that counter weight of a powerful male role models go here’s how you be a man don’t listen to these stupid idiots like, here’s how you can do it without harming anybody. It’s perfectly fine. You can do it like this. Number nine. What Nine and 10 have something in common this we actually get positive feedback. So number nine is validation and approval for people pleasing, and dishonesty. So this happens a bit later small teenage years, depending on when you get started, when it kicks in might be your first relationship that really starts to happen or your first proper peer group. But this little strategy you’ve been toying with of being a nice guy in whichever way it is, maybe you’re the performer, maybe you’re the manipulator, manipulative controller, maybe the wallflower, you start to get positive feedback, they will start telling you that you’re a good person that they like you. They laugh at your jokes, they include you in their groups, they stop hurting you, you get the validation of being left alone, if that was the thing you actually going for, it starts working. And in fact, it’s actually paying out finally, I figured away, you know, for me, it was being funny, and I totally get stand up comedians, almost all of them would be nice, guys, almost all of them to get started to go like, get up on stage do something they’re brave, has to be a big reward. And the big reward is like, Fuck, I can get a whole room to love me for like 15 minutes, you know. And so they go up there, and they just seek that approval, and they get it. And I used to play that role. Because I was just in my friend group, I just be the one always creating the laughs and telling the stories and keeping everyone entertained. Others, they just do really well at school, perhaps, or they’re really good at sports, or they’re in the band. And I did all of these things. But they find something that works. And that thing comes with a cost around integrity, they have to be dishonest to do the thing. They can’t say how they really think and feel they can’t show weaknesses, they can’t be negative. And there has to be something that pleases others can be some random weird thing that nobody likes. So there’s a compromise that takes place. But because it’s working so well, and you feel so good about the reaction you’re getting, you don’t care so much about a compromise. I mean, you’re like a 14 year old boy who what does he keep a fuck about integrity, he’s just trying to get a kiss from girls, he’ll do anything, he doesn’t give a fuck. And this is why doesn’t pay out later on in life when the laughs died down or doesn’t actually get you that far. Or, you know, even if it does, there’s no real inner reward, you just feel empty and hollow and lonely all the time, and you can’t get high often anymore. Then you also don’t have your integrity, you don’t even know who you are. So it’s a double loss. Number 10. Validation again, but this time for high achievement, you know, getting love from doing well. So as opposed to being likable, You’re impressive. Many nice guys will do both, they’ll do the thing that makes them likable, and they’ll do something that makes them impressive. Like for me I was funny, but I also did really well at school. So I kind of stacked up my odds to be as likable as possible and approved of and high quantity. So he found a way to finally get some love. You know, maybe you do well on the sports field, maybe something finally basic or dead go well, you’re good at it. And you’re like, holy shit. He said something. Fuck I’m doing that for rest of my life. You know, you get the kind of nice guy goes into the family business, even though he doesn’t like the job because finally something there’s dad approves off or the person who you know, marries the girl that has parents like us finally, you know, just marriage because she likes him. Finally, somebody likes me. I mean, I know so many guys. Go he used to disparagingly called on one joiners, and I don’t mean to offend anyone listening. But the guy who basically married the first girl that he liked. Now there must be some cases where that really is true love and compatibility and you just nailed it on your first go. But I’d suggest in most cases, it’s a form of desperation of like, fuck, somebody loves me cling for life. You know, I think it’s a form of anxious attachment style. The idea you’re like, maybe I should just like get a range figure out what even one who I am before I choose one flavor, you know, which is generally what healthy and confident people do. You know, they sample the bath buffet before they decide what they really want to eat. But, you know, people will commit to a career, I went to school, went to university and sign up to communications degree, I didn’t even know why I want to go to university. I hadn’t even looked far enough ahead to go like, what point is, is there and me getting this degree like, where am I going with this? But everybody just approved of how well I did school and so that’s just another school. That’ll do, right. And I often did jobs because somebody offered it to me just took the path of least resistance. And whatever I did, I tried to win you know, when I even when I got into dancing, and this is after I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I got into dance I just felt this compulsion to compete and train really hard and win the competitions. It’s just I can’t I just enjoy fucking dancing. So now I got a win all the time got to achieve that. I won’t be able to say your dance the best dance with right I couldn’t just be another middle of the pack dancers. You is having fun on a Saturday night, now we’re going to be the guy shows up and we wound into here, you know, now eventually got over that. And now I am a middle of the pack down, so you can just enjoy it without being the hero. But that took a lot of work, I had to, like, let go of training when, I mean, I got to the point where I actually co founded a dance school. And that was when fuck I’m going way too far with the shift supposed to be a hobby, what the fuck am I doing, you know, even even got my coaching business off the ground properly. And now I’m running a dance school that I can relax. Anyway, so those are my top 10 Though there’s probably more. And I want you to note that these are these are deeply embedded. When something happens to you in childhood, you can imagine it like layers of the brain, you know, like ever. If you’ve got like those layers you get when a cliff falls away, and you see all the time through the layers. And the ground. Some layers are untouchable, there’s some parts of nice guy syndrome that happen before you’re three years old. You know, the I can see it in my daughter, you know, she’s only two and I can already see a tendencies occasionally to try and get what she wants by seeking approval stuff. Now it’s nothing completely unhealthy. But I was to say, well, it should could start pretty early. Actually, you’ve got a really emotionally unstable parent, you’re already going to be doing some basic strategies when you’re like two years old, you won’t even remember your earliest memories, what four or five years old, maybe match how much shit you got away with before then imagine how early the strategy goes back. Have deeply embedded in the brain. It is how, you know reinforced it is from so many hundreds of 1000s of repetitions that you’re not going to cure this. You know, I sometimes sort of use the word cure lightheartedly, but really nice guys about recovery. It’s about management, you got to know what it is you do. That’s nice guy syndrome and how that’s different to living with integrity. And you’ve got to consciously change one behavior over to the other when you make your decisions, until the other way becomes more consistent and more natural to them. Because, of course it’s authentic to you. They I have to watch it forever. Like I’m always keeping an eye on it and my people pleasing and my fixing. You know, am I soaking right now? Or am I being honest, you know, I have to watch it and I slipped and I get it wrong. Because my default is so deep in the brain, I can’t even get to it. And but what I can do is I can stop it arising in my behavior. I can catch it as it’s thought to my head again, no, no, we’re not doing that should again and do the other thing instead. So you need to practice ways of living, that override that immature strategy. And in those urges you get. And that’s a long term piece of work well, it’s a lifelong piece of work. Of course, if you want help doing that piece of work and you want to figure out what the other way is and how to transition from one to the other. Get in touch dan@brojo.org Thank you so much for listening. Please feel free to comment below with anything you think I’ve missed or any critique or thoughts you want to share on what I’ve talked about. And I’ll see you guys next time. Cheers.

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