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People-pleasing and Nice Guy Syndrome are all about one thing more than anything else: Control. Nice Guys often struggle with self-awareness, unable to see that everything they do is a subtle or overt manipulation to control other people and outcomes. Nice Guys are so obsessed with control in relationships, success and all other areas of life that they often become perfectionists and chronically anxious, causing them to lose all enjoyment of life.
In this video, we discuss the centre of Nice Guy Syndrome – control – and how to let go of it.
Dan’s Top Resources
Dan has 3 bestselling non-fiction books available in both written and audio form:
- The Naked Truth, his latest release, shows you how radical honesty builds self-confidence and relationships
- Nothing to Lose explores how to build confidence from the inside by correcting the programming in your brain
- The Legendary Life is a very practical, action-focused guide on how to plan and execute a life plan that brings you your ideal lifestyle
Dan continues to put out high quality online self-paced courses through the Udemy platform
- Shamelessness: how to relieve yourself of the “not good enough” story
- Powerful Honesty: takes you through step-by-step development of your communication skills to be more charismatic and powerful in your honesty
- The 3X Confidence and Authenticity Masterclass program: use the famous 3X Model to build confidence in all areas of life
- Financial Freedom for Beginners: includes everything from budgeting, to getting a raise, to investing in the stock market, to starting a side-business and more
- Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection… Permanently!: covers the psychology of “rejection” and what actions to take to make yourself immune to the fear of it
Full transcript (unedited)
After working with nice guys and people pleasers for years now I don’t know how long it’s been. The core theme has come through that really links us all together. Now while there are probably hundreds of different types of nice guy and 1000s of variations, there is one factor that we all have in common. And that is, the desire to control.
Specifically, is a desire to control our emotional state, it looks like the desire to control other people, and the desire to control our results and outcomes and situations. But all of those are just in service of controlling how we feel, achieving what Dr. Robert Glover calls a smooth problem free life. That is to say, to stay in a narrow band of comfortable emotions at all times, you cannot hope to recover from nice guy syndrome without first letting go of control. Now, of course, this is not something you can do permanently, it’s more like a practice something you have to keep coming back to and keep reminding yourself of and keep trying to achieve every day. But if you do not do that, if you refuse to let go of control, you have no hope of recovery from this thing. How do we know it’s about control? Well listen to some of these classic signs, these classic symptoms and behaviors of nice guys that are about to follow. And think of the word control as you listen to these, trying to manage people’s emotions for them, calming down an angry person cheering up a sad person entertaining a board for person giving advice to a confused person. And on and on always trying to adjust somebody else’s emotions, even though they haven’t asked. And even if they have asked, not questioning whether or not it’s the right thing to do. avoiding confrontation and conflict, kind of an obvious one, trying to stay away from any conversation that gets emotionally uncomfortable. Try and prevent it from happening, trying to anticipate and redirect it, or when it does happen, trying to sugarcoat it and bring it down and get everybody friendly. Again, working extra hard and extra long to get it all done and to get it done just right. What a lot of people call perfectionism what I call mediocrity. But basically having a task list that just doesn’t end. He never say no to anything. Everything’s equally important. On the other hand, too there procrastinating on things that aren’t easily winnable, avoiding things that look like you’re going to fail or where it looks like it’s going to get uncomfortable and rough and you can’t see a clear victory. getting flustered by things not going as planned or things not going your way. Exploding outwards, or imploding inwards. When you have a string of bad luck with things don’t go your way, a lot of times in a row. And you start to get angry about the universe being unfair in some way. Sticking with things that are easy and comfortable, even though they aren’t really fulfilling, quitting things when you fail early on and don’t see a clear pathway towards mastery, becoming obsessed with certain achievements that seem to guarantee lifelong comfort, like superior wealth, marriage, becoming famous, these kinds of things that promise that things are going to be easy for you for a long time. Now ironically, when trying to achieve this comfortable, long term life, we spend a lot of our time feeling stressed and angry and frustrated and exhausted and confused and ashamed. So in our methodology, we actually suffer all the things we’re trying to avoid. And a classic Nice Guy backfire. I’ve included a link to a podcast I did about this a few months ago, the idea that all nice guy strategies backfire, they all end up causing the thing they’re trying to prevent. And this is just a classic core example of that when we try to control everything so that we can feel emotionally comfortable. The only thing we guarantee is that we’re never emotionally comfortable. Why are we like this? This fucking pointless way of living? Why do we do it? Because of trauma, of course, because something happened when we were young, probably a long series of things happening what’s called complex trauma, where we found that the concept of being in control was the only real solution. Perhaps you had an unstable or unpredictable parent or parents. And you found that keeping yourself under control and keeping everything perfect and making everyone happy seemed to reduce the amount of pain that you got from them. Or maybe making everyone laugh and making everyone think you’re the funny guy stopped getting bullied and ostracized at school. You saw something that ended the pain by being in control of other people and circumstances and as little kiddie lock that in as a strategy, never really knowing that you’re even doing it. You know and not suspecting that one day when you are older. It was going to backfire on you significantly and stop working completely. So at the heart of nice guy recovery is saying goodbye to that ineffective childhood strategy to bear letting go of control as uncomfortable as you’re going to be with it. In order to achieve the actual contentment and confidence that you’ve been seeking all along, you got to work from the outside. And rather than trying to control your emotions, you’re
going to let go of control of people and situations. First, you’re going to stop trying to manage everything and everyone all the time. I call it letting the world burn, you’re gonna take away that pillar of support that you think you are, and you’re gonna let everything come crashing down, at least that’s what you think’s gonna happen. What we’re going to see is that when you take away all that controlling that you do, the universe will actually continue on just okay without you. As you work on letting go of control of others, and letting go of control of situations and resorts, eventually, you’re going to start to become okay with having uncomfortable emotions, because you’re going to have them a lot. But you’ve already been having them a lot. So this is not going to be a new experience for you, it’s just going to be you’re going to let them happen rather than them occurring to you as a result of you trying too hard to stop them from happening. They happen either way, this time, you’re just not going to put up a fight. Here are some practical examples you can use to start letting go of control in a measurable way, reduce and remove or padding as I call it from conversations. That’s anything extra you add to what you say, to make it more understandable to make it easier to accept to make the other people less likely to react badly to it, and so on. All that apologetic sugar coating padding that you add, so that somebody is more likely to respond positively, start cutting that out, and just giving them the raw facts, giving them the idea, the opinion preference, without trying to manage the response for them. Even if you’re not sure they’re gonna understand what you say, let them be confused. Rather than trying to prevent them from being confused. start engaging what I call one hit confrontations. And what that means is when you need to speak your mind and say your piece, but you’re not actually looking to change somebody else. Because you’ve let go of control. You just do a one hit you say your thing is Speak your mind. And then you drop all defensiveness or justification or explanation. And you don’t respond again. You just said your piece. And that’s it, you’re done. So let’s say I say to you, like, It upsets me when you talk to me like that, and they go, No, but you did this and blah, blah, blah, I’m like, this isn’t a debate, I’m just telling you that I got upset by that we’re done talking about it. Now. You don’t allow it to become a back and forth. I’m not saying all confrontations should be like this. This is a training technique, where you learn to like go into a confrontation, knowing you’re going to lose knowing they’re going to have the last word, knowing you’re not going to defend yourself or explain yourself any further. Just doing it to express you and let go of control of everything else, you’ll be amazed how much easier this is than trying to confront and wind. If you confront and lose on purpose, it’s much easier to get it out because you don’t even have to get a right. Deliberately undertake a hobby or a series of activities that you know you’re going to suck it, they should be things you also enjoy. But things maybe you gave up on in the past or things you’ve avoided starting because you suspect you’re not going to master it, you know, kind of become the best in the world. Like I currently play chess, and I don’t play it very well. I probably should have started playing it a long time ago when I was genuinely interested in it. But I was too scared of being seen as a nerd. And too scared of losing because everybody was actually nerds and they’re good at it. Just choose something where you know you’re going to be middle of the pack hobbyists, you know, you’re never going to be on the podium or get the gold medal. In fact, you’re not even going to compete, you’re just going to do it for you, and just suck at it. And just do it for the enjoyment of doing it. And to take what I call a nil by mouth rule for other people being upset. You can hug them you can make expressions of body language that shows sympathy, but do not say a fucking word to change the mood. If someone’s crying, let them cry. If someone’s confused, let them stay confused. someone’s angry, let them burn it out. Don’t try to calm them down. I try to make that person cheer them up or whatever the fuck don’t try and help the confused person solve the problem. Let them do it all on their own. Let them fail if they have to stay the fuck out of it.
Let other people manage their own lives. Even if they ask you for help. Your first response should be like Who could I redirect them towards who’s even better than helping that I am professional and expert somebody they could pay rather than becoming the expert the controlling fixer in their life. Let other people sort their shit out. Now this will be a tough one. If you’ve created an environment where you’re the fixer and you’re the controller. Alright, if you’ve been doing that for a long time, people are going to struggle to adjust to this change in you. So you might It’s want to sort of talk them through it, let them know, look, I’m gonna stop trying to fix you and stop kind of trying to control you. And all that helpful stuff I do is actually me trying to control you, it’s not healthy. So you might notice that I sort of pull back a bit, but it’s because I trust you to deal with shit on your own. And maybe if I stopped disabling your the term or the time, you’d have more power, so I’m going to leave you there that power and build that strength on your own. Try to reduce the amount of planning you put into your day beyond the sort of necessary appointments that you have to make and deadlines you have to meet. Try just winging it a bit more, allowing yourself to kind of go with the flow and be more spontaneous, rather than trying to make sure every minute goes exactly the way it should say no to anything that’s outside of your agreement. And what I mean by that is, say, for your work contract, don’t take on extra tasks that either you don’t have the time for, or you’re not contractually obliged to do. If it’s in a relationship, that means not doing more than 50% of the work not doing more than what your partner brings in. And making sure it’s balanced. Even if you don’t do the same stuff that you putting an equal effort in some way. Don’t ever do more than that. More than that, always an attempt to control something. Whenever you get unsolicited feedback or criticism, just respond with it is what it is. No defense, no justification, no trying to change the way they see you. Even if they do it in front of a crowd and they’ve got the whole crowd believing something wrong about you. Just go if you want to believe it, believe it. It’s yours. It’s your belief, do what you got to do brothers, and don’t try to change their mind at all. Especially when it’s unsolicited. You didn’t even ask for this. You know, recently I got an email from some doodles kind of bizarre, where he started giving me like a breakdown of what was wrong with my psychology. I didn’t respond to There you go believe that I’m psychologically damaged if you want to brother. I hope that information somehow brings you joy because it’s, there’s nothing I can do about I don’t want to change your mind. Have had the wrong impression of me. Yeah, fuck it. Maybe you’re right. Whatever it is, I’m leaving it alone. Just let other people be wrong about you. Let them be unfair and their view of you let them be ungenerous and how they see you just let the fucking world burn. Alright, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is then trying to make everybody think you’re awesome. And number one rule, be honest, no matter what the cost, if you ever want a guaranteed way to let go of control, be honest, when you feel like being honest is going to do damage. That’s the easiest way to go. Okay, this is gonna go out of control right now and you just say your thing. One you’ll be surprised how often it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be which is actually most of the time. But two most importantly at the same time, you’ll be a letting go of control and be validating yourself. Those two combined are a very powerful recipe to transform from Nice Guy people pleasing little control freak bitch to confident, masculine, secure person. Do you get my powerful honesty course there’s a link below. If you want to learn how to be powerfully honest and let go of control and people pleasing by being honest. And of course get in touch if you want support or coaching email@example.com Thank you for watching. I’m not going to explain the hat you’re just gonna have to let go of control of that one. Goodbye