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Nice Guys / people pleasers: How to know if you’re doing things for the right reasons

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When you start recovering from Nice Guy Syndrome and reducing your people-pleasing, you will probably enter a phase where you don’t trust yourself. You will know from your history that you often do “nice” things for unhealthy reasons, and you’ll start to wonder if anything you do is for the “right” reasons. In this video, we explore what to do in this situation, particularly when it could be said that what you’re doing is motivated by core values as well as Nice Guy Syndrome.


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Full transcript (unedited)

Welcome back. Today we’re going to be talking about a dilemma that comes up quite often for my coaching clients. And it’s people who have been working on nice guy recovery, people are trying to stop people pleasing. And they come to this conflict, where they want to do the right thing. But they’re worried that they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And therefore, they’re not sure if it is the right thing to do. And they start to doubt themselves all the time, because they’ve finally become aware of sort of how unhealthy and toxic some of their motives have been in the past. So in today’s video, I want to help you to figure out if you’re doing the right thing, and if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Nice goes and people pleasers actually quite often do good things, objectively helpful behaviors, but they do it for the wrong reasons. So recovery from nice guy syndrome doesn’t necessarily mean totally changing your behavior, in fact, is often what I call the 360, which is, by the end of all the recovery work that we’ve done together, they’re actually quite similar to when they started in terms of their behavior, they’re still quite nice, they’re quite helpful and generous and kind and giving. But now they’re doing it for completely different reasons. And they’re doing it in slightly different ways that make it a lot healthier than the way it was before. For example, person used to force their advice on people might now ask for permission and respect to know before they give advice, and little things like that. But generally nice guys do a lot of what looks like good behavior, but for very bad reasons, you know, they’ll help someone but they’re just doing it to get recognition or they’ll pursue sex, but they’re just doing it to get approval and validation. Or they’ll give advice, but they’re just trying to control and manipulate you. So the behaviors could actually be quite helpful and good, but because they’re being done for such unhealthy reasons, often, the long term outcome is quite disastrous for everyone involved, these behaviors end up causing harm, rather than helping now valued living living with integrity means not only doing the right thing, but doing it the right way, because you’re doing it for the right reasons. And this is a subtle difference. That’s very significant. In the long term, if you’re doing the right thing, and you’re doing it for the right reasons, then the long term effects are very helpful and healthy for everybody involved. So I’ve got to emphasize recovery from nice guy syndrome doesn’t mean that you stop being nice necessarily. It just means you stopped being fake, you stopped being manipulative, you stopped being needy, you stop being emotionally disabled, you start doing all these things, for healthy reasons, for reasons of integrity, for, you know, trying to make the world a better place and trying to make yourself a better person, rather than trying to control the world so that you feel emotionally safe. The problem with being in recovery is it’s like a drug addiction, you’re always in recovery, you’re always at risk of relapse, and the most likely form of relapses to do something for the wrong reason. And then to create a kind of spiral effect, where you end up fully relapsing into full nice guy syndrome. And this begins when you start doing things where you can have a good reason and a bad reason for doing it at the same time, where your integrity, your values, and that reason for doing it overlaps with nice guy reasoning. So I might go to help someone because it’s the right thing to do. And I’ve asked permission, but I’m also hoping that they give me a recognition. So there’s a little bit of nice guy still in there, you know, or I might pursue someone because I’m genuinely attracted to them. And I think that I would bring value into their life, and that we could create value together. But I’m also hoping that I’ll get laid and be able to tell my friends about it. So I’ve got this kind of conflict of healthy and unhealthy happening at the same time. This is very common for nice guys in recovery. It’s hard to know, if you’re doing things for the right reasons, when you have such a long history of doing things for the wrong reason. And when you’re in recovery, this stays with you all the time. Like for me, if I help someone while they’re upset, like if I’m comforting someone emotionally, while they’re upset, I’m at a very high risk of relapse, it’s very hard for me to be able to be sure that I’m doing this for the right reasons. And this is actually what’s helpful for them. And then this isn’t about me fixing them. So when I’m around, people are really upset, I have to get very conscious and very careful about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Because I’m constantly at risk. Because I can’t trust myself. I’ve got such a history of doing this for the wrong reasons, that it’s probably important that I never really trust myself in this situation, just like a drug addict should never really trust themselves at a bar, right? Because they just can’t be trusted around substances. And there’s no point in trusting themselves around substances. It just creates complacency and risk and on the same with people pleasing. There are certain situations where I just should not trust myself because that’s best for my long term quality of life. But not trusting yourself doesn’t mean you can’t act. Now there are two key things to keep in mind here. All right. First one, ensure that you’re at least doing the right thing, even if you’re not sure if you’re doing it for the right reason. So the behavior should line up with your values should line up with a rational assessment of the situation of what’s in the best long term interest of everyone involved, including myself. Is everything out in the open? Is this really what we should all be doing? Is this morally right by my own standards? Is this ethical, all of that should be cleared up, even if you’re not really sure why you’re doing as usual, make sure at least it also lines up with your values. Number two is a little trick, we try to force the right reason to win. And what I mean by this is, if you’ve got a nice guy reasoning and valued reasoning competing, there’s little moves you can make it depends on every situation. But there’s these little moves you can make that ensure that you can only do it for the right reason, you can take away any possible people pleasing type reward that you’re seeking. Any possible Nice Guy bullshit can actually be squashed by the way that you take the action. For example, a great version of this is remaining anonymous. So a lot of people pleasing is about getting validation, recognition and approval. So if you want to help someone, if you want to give if you want to make the world a better place, one way to ensure that you’re doing that with integrity is to make sure nobody else knows that you did it. Right to give anonymously. So it can be as simple as like, pouring from Santa on the on the Christmas presents that you give to your family, you know, so nobody knows who really gave it to them. But you can enjoy them enjoying the gift without saying, Oh, by the way, can you tell me I’m a good boy for giving it to you, you can make sure that you give recognition to others and to the other forces involved in the event. So if you’ve achieved something, rather than taking all that credit yourself, you make sure you give credit where it’s due. You can say, well, I’m only this way because this person trained me and that person supported me and I couldn’t have done it without them. And I really mean that, like they hadn’t been involved, this wouldn’t have been accomplished. And make sure you only receive recognition for your actual piece of the pie, rather than claiming the whole pie for yourself. But also, because it can be reversed for some people pleasers. Don’t discount yourself either, say I did this amount, and this is the amount of recognition I deserve for this. Right. So claim your actual rewards if you’re the type of people pleaser, who tends to brush off compliments and avoid them. But don’t go outside of there. Don’t claim anything that belongs to other people. And don’t forget to be grateful and give recognition to the people who helped you achieve whatever you achieved. Serve yourself first. So if you’re caretaking type people, please do self sacrifices hurts themselves to take care of others, and the hope of being seen as some sort of master. One way you can make sure that doesn’t happen when you’re helping others is make sure you get your own shit sorted first, right before you help someone with mowing their lawns, make sure you’ve mowed your lawn, right, and that isn’t stealing time away from that. Another way to do this is encourage rather than do it for them. So if someone wants your support, your assistance, your guidance, your encouragement or anything, you can help them get it from themselves sort of coach rather than be the kind of servant. So if somebody you know, wants help stay in their business, ask them questions like, Well, where can you get the best information for that? And what would you do if you were brave? And you know, ask them questions that will prompt them to come up with the answers, rather than just giving them the answers. And this way you help them but without being the fixer and the controller and the manipulator. So it’s different with every situation you have to play with this in any situation, how can I do this? This is right by my values, and how do I remove the people pleasing reward, but how do I make sure that this is just integrity, now it can be just a very subtle mental shift, it could just be that in your mind, you get it clear why you’re doing it. And that’s enough. But most of the time, it will require an actual change in how you plan to do it or usually requires removing some extra bit that you would have added to it to say get approval or get a reward of some kind. So just remove that bit and then carry forward with the action and you come out clean the other side. And that’s what I mean by forcing the values to win is on the other side. No matter what kind of conflicting motives you had in your head. You only got the rewards that come from valued living you didn’t get any nice guy rewards, therefore valued living one. And lastly, you can also redeem yourself if you slip few laps relapse and you did something you look back and like I wasn’t good thing to do, but I really didn’t do it for good reasons. Go tell the person there go admit to it. Go try to repair the damage as much as you can try to undo whatever it is give back whatever awards you got. So that you can make it clean again as much as possible. And this will help you stay on track. And it’s better to make that mistake and not act at all. So it’s better to go forward do something not sure why you’re doing it but do it anyway. And then afterwards go Oh, yeah, okay, maybe that was for the wrong reason. Then to sort of hold back from doing anything because you’re scared you’re not going to do it for the right reason. Right. Make the mistake and clean it up. And of course if you want any help with this, get in touch dan@brojo.org We might be able to have a coaching session the first ones free And we can talk through this stuff I’ll see you next time

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