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Nice Guy Syndrome Psychology: A Complete Review

In this podcast episode, I break down some of the major psychological components that make up Nice Guy Syndrome. NGS is a cluster of different psychological disorders and struggles, and not every Nice Guy is the same. Some of these will apply to you, some won’t. This podcast should help you figure out what type of Nice Guy you are, as well as how you should focus your recovery.

We’ll talk about Nice Guy Attachment Styles (avoidant and anxious), Nice Guy Narcissism, People Pleasing Syndrome, and comorbidity with ADHD and autism. Then we’ll wrap up with looking at a general recovery approach that works for all types.

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Full transcript (unedited)

Welcome back to the brojo online podcast. Today we’re going to be looking at nice guy syndrome psychology. So this is going to be a deep dive into the psyche of the nice guy, we’re going to be having a look at the various psychological elements that contribute to nice guy syndrome. And we’re basically we’re looking at it from lots of different angles inside the brain. And you should treat what I’m saying like approaching a problem from lots of different angles, some of it will apply to you, some of it won’t. Just because it doesn’t perfectly apply to you doesn’t mean that the other bits are irrelevant. What I’m hoping to do is give you a lot of different angles that will help some of you understand your own psychology better, and therefore be able to recover from nice guy syndrome more effectively. This also helped to explain why there are different types of nice guys why an introverted hide in the corner type guy in an extroverted stage musician can both have nice guy syndrome and both be suffering from the same basic problem, we’re going to see how we get to a different place or a different type, from different influences and the different psychological issues that we face. And then I’m going to try and bring it all together at the end. With a general cure, recommendation, the kind of thing that would apply no matter which of these things are relevant to you and which are not.

In today’s video, we’re going to have a look at the relationship between nice guy syndrome and the avoidant attachment style, which is particularly prevalent in my nice guy coaching clients. So my hypothesis is that most nice guys have an avoidant attachment style. Now this as far as I know has not been studied in science because nice guy syndrome is not actually a recognized syndrome in scientific literature yet, though people pleasing syndrome is deemed to be looked at we’ll talk about that later. But most of my clients certainly end up figuring out that they have an avoidant attachment style, primarily, and sometimes they’re anxious depending on the situation. So if you’re not familiar with attachment styles, first off, I recommend you get the book attached. You can find it on Amazon that’s kind of like the Bible on Attachment styles. It’s one of the best books you can read to discover your own issues and relationships. But an avoidant attachment style is essentially about preventing intimacy preventing closeness you’re avoiding Rejection hurts a lot more when somebody actually gets to know you’re getting close, or you’re invested in them, and they let you down. So the avoidant aims to prevent that kind of pain by keeping the wall to the castle up nice and high, they’re keeping the door closed. So you can come and have a look from the outside but you’re not allowed in, we might be able to do some actual damage avoidance believe that feeling of closeness is threatening, it’s going to lead to loss, either loss of a person, they’re going to leave you or loss of your own personal freedom and autonomy, you’re going to lose yourself can come from lots of different angles. But generally it comes from trauma relating to close relationships when you are a child. So this is usually family, sometimes friends. So this is where the people in close, hurt you in some way. And you’ve developed in your childlike mind a theory that people being close equals pain. Whereas the people who are further out never seem to do much damage. And so that seemed a lot more palatable. Like it’s better if people just kind of keep their distance, I’m safer that way. So in my own example, I kept changing schools. When I was younger, I went to like three different schools and my first two years of schooling. And so it was really hard for me to make friends. And even when I finally made a friend has taken away from me instantly. So I constantly get this my best friend being taken away. theme throughout my life. Even later on when I went to high school, my best friend went to another high school, and so on. So I kept having this kind of repetition of my best friend being taken away of putting all this effort into finally making friends. And then having it all like wiped off the board completely and moving to a completely different place. I will say quite strict parenting. So I had the sense that the people close to me are kind of suffocating and burdening and restricting. And I just always wanted to escape and be free and not have so many rules all the time. So that’s a typical kind of background for someone who ends up being an avoidant attachment style. We basically learned to keep people at a certain distance we want them to like us, but we don’t want them to love us or hate us, or kind of middle of the bell curve type feelings. And so we’re playing this constant push and pull game to get them right into the perfect position. This is why some avoidance can sometimes pay to be anxious like they’re chasing and needy and clingy it’s because the person they want is gone too far away and they’re trying to pull them back in. But watch that nice guy get cold again and distance was a person actually comes in. We feel that we’re going to be suffocated by it. Some people have had in measurement when they’re younger, where one of the parents actually treats him more like a partner than a parent or like a best friend or a counselor. This feeling of like I just need to breathe Get away from me. Or like in my case a suffocation of rules and restrict Seems like you’re not allowed to do anything, you’re walking on eggshells all the time, constantly getting into trouble for arbitrary crimes. So one of the main ways we’ll do that is we’ll avoid sharing deep emotions will put on a show a kind of mask performance that is designed to make you like us to design to give you pleasure, but you don’t actually get to see behind it, you’re gonna get to see the real person, there’s no investment on the part of an avoidance, you’re not really getting any of the good information that you might be able to hurt me with or use against me, you’ll notice you might be repulsed by complements, both giving and receiving, because they are a form of intimacy. So you’re always pushing back on anybody trying to build up a connection with you, you’ll be independent and proudly independent, you’d like to do everything on your own, you think jobs only done right? If you do it yourself, you don’t mind helping others, you’ve got to kind of double standard about this, helping others no problem at all being relied on being dependable, that’s fine. But you needing to rely on someone else, you having your success in the hands of somebody else that feels very suffocating and very threatening. So we generally try to keep everything we need to go well separate from other people. So we don’t share essentially, we use things like humor, being nonchalant or uncaring, being superficial, even being crazy, and antics, and we’re kind of putting on a show. All of these help to avoid a real connection forming, while at the same time are quite attractive traits to make people like you maybe not like you sexually, but at least think that you’re pleasant to be around or entertaining to be around or fun, or just relaxing to be around. So put on a show that gets the right amount of distance. So this really appeals to nice guys, because we get to give people a lot of pleasure, which is our kind of original intent, we want people to be happy. But at the same time, we don’t need to actually let them get in and do any damage. So it’s often comes out as entertainment, we like to be the funny person or the interesting person support, like one way counseling or giving lots of help. And just being incredibly valuable to have around without actually being attached problems with this approach. There are a couple superficial connections as the main one, because you’re not actually building any intimacy, you’re not really building loyalty. You know, building a connection that somebody is actually scared of losing, you might be the funny guy at the party. But if you don’t show up to the next party, nobody actually notices. There’s another funny guy, you’re replaceable. So you’ll notice that there’s no real sort of loyalty and that all your love is conditional. Like you have to provide value in some way to get that love. Like you’ve set up a precedent and kind of transactional arrangement, you have to be the entertaining one. Or you have to be the interesting one, or you have to be the supportive one. Or otherwise, people just don’t even think of you, you’ll probably do what I did, which is your self sabotage relationships and potential relationships, without even knowing that you’re doing it. In fact, the story in your head might be I’m trying really hard. Like I’m trying really hard to get a girlfriend, trying really hard to make friends. And yet if someone like me was to watch your behavior from the outside, it would look like you’re doing everything in your power to keep people away. You know, you’re deliberately sabotaging opportunities your every now and then you say or do things that push people away. You’re not revealing the information that’s needed to build a connection. You’re keeping things at this sort of baseline superficiality, your behavior is actually very effective at preventing any sort of connection from happening. Also, this leads to loneliness, kind of isolation. People with an avoidant attachment especially nice guys with avoidant attachment, feel like they’re an alien amongst humans, they feel like they’re not one of them. And not one of the species like they play acting like they’re all on their own floating in this isolated bubble that doesn’t touch anything. And it can be a very depressing, painful feeling. And often we lead to depression because part of the problem with being an avoidant as you learn to not only suppress emotions, but you develop alexithymia, you lose the ability, if you ever had it to express emotion, you couldn’t say it even if you want it to end because you can’t say it, you can’t get it out, you can’t process it. So you start to suppress emotion, they start to sort of toxify inside you because they don’t go anywhere. You’re not getting your anger out, you’re not revealing your sadness, you’re not processing your guilt. And all that just turns into this kind of psychic sludge that eventually poisons you. So what’s the cure to being a nice guy with an avoidant attachment style? Well, there are a number of different approaches you can take depending on how this manifests for you. One thing is to step back from the spotlight if you’re the entertainer type, okay, so if you’re the kind of person who always tries to steal the glory and be the funniest and put on a show and you know when you show up, it’s it’s time to go start quietening down a little bit. Let somebody else be the one who tells the jokes. Let somebody I’ll be the one who impresses everybody let somebody else win. And just try to get comfortable with not impressing people as a form of not only making them liking you, but keeping you at a distance, stop being one of the crowd rather than than the one on stage. You know, for me, this means to stop being funny. Do other things I was doing, I was also very impressive about work, and I play in a band and so on. But for me, the big one was to just stop telling jokes all the fucking time. Like, I’m Chandler from friends, you know, let serious conversations happen. Let people have arguments with each other. Not always have the last word and not always be funny. That was very difficult for me to let go of start sharing your darker emotions, your weaknesses, your faults and your fears. At first, you’ll struggle to put this into words, like me, you might think is just stress, you always say I’m stressed but even just stand to say I’m stressed is a big step forward, try giving and receiving meaningful compliments, somebody compliments, you just say thanks. Don’t push back on it, make jokes or try to undermine it. And when you go to compliment someone else, don’t do these superficial things that don’t show anything about how you feel. Tell them I like this about you tell the show like vulnerability, rather than just complimenting Oh, that’s a nice dress, say I find you attractive. Well, I Oh, you’re good at sports. I enjoyed watching you show like your feelings in your compliments. Try to take social opportunities, despite any reluctance or resistance or sudden apathy that might come up on you. So you might think you want an opportunity. And then when it’s actually available, you kind of lose interest, or you start sort of ruining, and in some way, bet all through and try to take the opportunity even though you’ve lost interest. You know, for example, I used to get performance anxiety in the bedroom. And so when a girl actually wanted me to come to her house, I come with all these excuses. And one of my biggest steps forward was to actually just go to a house knowing that it was going to be a write off an absolute train wreck and experience going, I’m going to see it through anyway. She’s going to have to kick me out of her house before I give up. And that’s actually what got me through all my performance anxiety issues. Basically, what you’re looking to do is let people know you let people love you let them hate you. And show yourself that you can actually handle that intimacy and that you will be brave enough and confrontational enough to protect yourself should you need to. And if you want more support with this, please get in touch dan@brojo.org We can talk about coaching.

Let’s take a moment to talk about nice guy narcissism might sound like a paradox. But the irony of people pleasing is how self centered it is. What on the surface looks like it’s about everyone else is actually only about the person doing it, it’s going to be hard to see if you are one, it was certainly hard for me to see it. Because you constantly call yourself a nice guy, maybe even call yourself a people pleaser. You can see patting yourself on the back about how good you are to other people compared to how others are to each other. You’re always focused on being good to others. So it makes sense in your head that you’re the good guy, and that this is about other people and you’re doing it for them. It’s very easy to turn people pleasing behavior into a story about how you’re altruistic and self sacrificing. And you know that you’re just empathetic and caring and loving and compassionate. The idea that you’re narcissistic, that this is all ego, this is all about your own needs being met, regardless of the harm you do to others. It doesn’t even occur to you. Why would it everybody else is telling you how nice you are. You’re never getting feedback that you’re a bad person. So why would you even look in that box right? Well the reason you’re getting such good feedback is because you are manipulating people into giving it to you see what classic narcissists get wrong so a malignant narcissist is there out in the open about how awful they are? They don’t try to make people like them with pleasing they try to make people like them with guilt tripping and gaslighting and all these sort of like nasty obvious negative manipulation techniques are nice guys are far more devious. Nice guys will make you love them. Well, they’ll make you love what you think they are. And it’s all an act. So what you don’t see when you’re a nice guy narcissist is how manipulative you are, and how every interaction you have you adjust gears turning and calculations and forecasting and anticipation. You’re highly vigilant for how people feel all the time so that you can cater what you are expressing to meet their needs, and control them. And it’s all about controlling nice guy syndrome. The one thing all nice guys have in common is the primary purpose is controlling people, controlling people so you can control their feelings about you, which helps you control your feelings about yourself. Everything you do as a people pleaser is aimed at controlling other people. And if that means they must suffer then you’ll do it still don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at some of the classic manipulation techniques used by Nice Guy narcissists. Self sacrifice kinda sounds like the opposite of Gnosticism, doesn’t it? Like I give my life for yours. Like the ultimate heroic act said, what it really does is it schools social points. So you’re forcing people using their psychology against them into feeling that they owe you something, that you’re a good person. Because on the surface, it looks like you’re suffering for other people’s gain. And it’s impossible for someone to hate you for that. Actually, you’re not suffering at all, you enjoy this ship to get pissy. So you’re going for there like the weakest form of approval possible where someone feels sorry for you, it constantly kind of subtly dropping hints about how much you suffer in your mission to help other people. You’re not doing this quietly. Or you’re letting everyone know that this hurts causes guilt. Like I said, people feel like they owe you something, it will feel like they’re holding you back. People feel like they need to repair the damage they’re doing, even though they never fucking ask for your help. And of course, it prevents intimacy, you still want to be a god living by yourself. And by sacrificing yourself. For others, it creates a wall between the two of you, they owe you something, you’re better than them. They’re worse than you they bear the burden. And you’re the strong one you can never connect when there’s an imbalance, humor and entertainment this was my specialty is a nice guy narcissist, and makes people like you. As much as I love stand up comedy. There’s something inherently manipulative about someone forcing you to laugh, we can’t help but laugh. In some comedians talk about this, how they start to resent the audience because they can just basically push a button and make everyone laugh. They call it killing, you know, they can just commit murder just anytime they want. And they start to sort of look down on their audience, like, look how easy you are to control. I used to feel this when I was doing the pickup artists thing as well, I could so easily entertain girls that I could predict when they would say certain responses, when they’d be disgusted when they would laugh and they would jokingly punch me on the shoulder I can make it happen with like the push of a button and I started to resent them for it being humorous and entertaining, steals a spotlight, maybe there’s somebody else who’d like to have the glory for once, maybe somebody else has got a funny joke or an interesting idea of the team meeting. Too bad for them because you’re going to jump in there first, aren’t you and you’re going to steal their glory. And you also force happiness on people got a nice guys will die on the Hill of believing that making other people happy is a good thing that you see, when you make someone feel an emotion, you’re preventing them from feeling other emotions. You cheer someone up when they’re grieving, they don’t get to process the grief properly. You make someone laugh when they’re trying to be angry, they don’t figure out what their boundaries are properly. cheer someone up when they said they don’t process whatever kind of lost they were going through. It makes someone feel better when they’re frustrated, they don’t get motivated enough to make a change. You’re stealing helpful emotional processes away from people by forcing happiness on them for your own benefit. So they feel good around you and they like you so that you can like yourself. That’s not helpful. Counseling and supportiveness there’s nothing nice guy Nasus loves more than to be a pseudo therapist, you come and dump your problems on him. He likes even pat himself on the back and call it self sacrifice because they are he has to hear everybody else’s problems. And nobody will listen to him as if he’s not engineering the situation to create codependency. You know, I used to get so much guilt. When I look back on this, I’d see the girls that I dated. And they came to me as basically strong, independent woman. And then they became needy. And suddenly they couldn’t do anything without me. And took me a long time to see that I was making that happen. I was making them lead me by being so supportive, that they actually got rusty and didn’t know how to solve problems by themselves. It also means you’re doing this impression management, you’re constantly creating this reputation of being a good, helpful person. Now it’s an act. It’s a forced behavior on your part that you’re making so that people really just can’t dislike you. They can’t even measure you accurately, because you just come with this goal and reputation all the time. And this extends to being helpful and available all the time. Again, it’s very hard to think of yourself as a narcissist. When you’re always putting yourself out there for other people. It’s like narcissists don’t do this, do they? Well, they do when it racks up social debt they do when it creates even more codependence. They do when it’s unsolicited advice aimed at making people more convenient to you rather than doing what’s right for them. It prevents uncomfortable emotions that you can’t be bothered dealing with. And you get disappointed if you don’t get recognition and thanks. All of that sounds pretty fucking narcissistic to me. The thing that we can’t see when we’re in our system, nice guy is the victim hero story which I’ve talked about in other podcasts and such, and that is that we are the main character of our story. And we’re actually superior to others because we’re the victim because we’re self sacrificing and we’re the only good person and we’re the most helpful and we’re the one entertaining everyone and keeping everyone unhappy. It’s a story that like, I’m the hero gives up everything for everybody else. So I’m actually the victim and the hero. I’m the underdog and the winner. I am just fucking amazing. And I get to complain about it. How good is that, say true giving generosity of spirit. altruism, there’s no ego when it doesn’t matter if people notice, doesn’t matter if they appreciate it. That’s not relevant to somebody’s truly giving, you know, you do it to align with your core values rather than to get an outcome of approval from another person. So just doing it is rewarding. It doesn’t matter how people react, uncomfortable emotions are welcomed. Sometimes true giving means hurting someone’s feelings. Sometimes true giving means provoking anger, outrage, disappointment, letting someone process some real shit so that they can improve in their life. You talk to people who are actually given her work in like rehabilitation services and stuff like that. They’re not around making people happy ever. Making people happy doesn’t help them grow, it doesn’t improve them. So if you think giving is making people happy, then you don’t know what giving really is. When you’re giving you encourage others to become more independent, you’re constantly pushing the responsibility back on them. If you are mentoring or teaching, you want that to be short term, you want them to take off without you to do better without you than they did with you. And truly giving people lead by example, rather than living a double standard. So rather than trying to like self sacrifice, and make things easier for everyone else, they show what it’s like to lead, they show what it’s like to live a healthy life. They let you copy them and get ideas from them rather than doing it for you.

When we’re talking about nice guy syndrome, we should also be talking about people pleasing syndrome, which is kind of like a sister syndrome. The noise goes on people pleasers and not quite the same thing. There’s a lot of overlap a lot of shared traits, but there’s some distinct differences as well. And it can help in your recovery to kind of know which one you are. And people pleasing syndrome is actually somewhat recognized in the field of psychology, whereas nice guy syndrome isn’t so much. It’s even got a name socio trophy, which is only heard about that the other week, it reflects somebody whose primary behavior is to make others feel pleasure. And you’ll sacrifice everything to maintain a happy relationship and prevent conflict. You’ll sacrifice anything in your life, so that the people in your life feel pleasure in your presence. Now, there’s some nice guys who don’t do this this way. It’s not exactly the same as nice guy syndrome. The wallflower type of nice guy, for example, just tries to avoid disapproval, they just hide in the background and fly under the radar. They’re not actively trying to please people, or at least not that much. And that the former type, which is the type of nice guy I was, we’re quite happy to sometimes cause controversy, we’re happy to upset people as long as overall we’re entertaining. I used to tell quite offensive jokes for example, whereas a people pleaser would never dare offending anybody. One way to think of it as people pleasing as a potential symptom of nice guy syndrome. So nice guy syndrome is the overall umbrella perhaps that people pleasing can also be a little syndrome on its own, completely unrelated to nice guys are another way to think about this is a nice guy with an anxious attachment style. So previously, I’ve talked about nice guys with an avoidant attachment style, which I believe is the majority of Nice Guys. And we’re trying to keep people at a distance where they like us, but don’t love us. But there are a subset of nice guys who really want their love. They want codependence they want Never Let Me Go again. And as close as you want the type of nice guy who would oversharing never tried to push you away or never tried to get space. They’re rare but they do exist and they are more likely to be people pleasers as well. One way to know if you’re a people pleaser is you hate yourself unless you’re pleasing someone. You’re in a situation where people around you and not happy with you. And that makes you hate yourself and then turns around as soon as you make someone laugh or they say you’re a good person or they tell you how helpful you are, then you’re probably a people pleaser. Specially if you have no real standards about who this applies to anyone and everyone, whoever you can make happy will do basically means that unless you’re all by yourself, if you’re in any situation socially, you are constantly thinking about how to give people pleasure. It’s like your top priority. You’re constantly vigilant for it, constantly worried that it’s not happening. You’re always anticipating and planning how it could happen. So the basics of people pleasing syndrome is caretaking fixing. So this is not the same as being helpful. caretaking fixing is actually taking problems away from people, either preventing the person from having the problem in the first place, or taking the problem away from them by fixing it. This can take the form of just being very, very helpful. So you’re always reducing people’s burdens. You’re always self sacrificing. You can’t say no, you just any chance you get to ease someone’s burden you’re on that no matter how much it burdens you. You’re going to be quite agreeable. You always encouraging challenging, I can see your side of the argument. You’re always trying to kind of adapt your beliefs and your worldview, to make the other person feel like they’ve got someone on their team. You’ll sacrifice honesty for consensus. So if you’re in a group, you’d rather go with the group, then speak out and risk some sort of ostracism. Even if their group is only you and another person, you’d be quite protective. For example, helicopter parents, we just hovering over people all the time to try and make sure nothing bad happens to them. Protectionism is pretty classic. I mean, perfectionism as a kind of general pleasing approach on perfect then everyone’s happy as a kind of motto of the people pleaser, and wrongness comes with a lot of shame, something being inaccurate, wrong, late, anything like that a mistake. There’s so much shame and pain attached to that far beyond the actual damage it does in vigilance, constantly looking, constantly assessing, hyper aware of how everyone feels about you at any given time, worrying about it, thinking about it when they’re not around, just constantly assessing their subsidy, that this behavior is the avoidance of disapproval as well. So being humble and modest, falsely, so like downplaying strengths that you actually have, and never trying to outdo other people, even if you’re more skilled or stronger, trying to just basically never talk about yourself in a positive way. Never say or do something that might make someone feel worse about themselves, who is trying to moderate conflict and play the mediator, you know, you’re hyper vigilant potential drama, so you can prevent it. And they want it does happen, you’ll be falsely agreeable, or mediating or you’ll flip flop on your beliefs as needed to bring the conflict to an end as soon as possible. Regardless how much you have to compromise your integrity, you’re extra careful, especially around like disappointing people offending them, you’re tiptoeing. You don’t want to say anything too strong or take a position that’s sort of too extreme, just in case someone in the room might be offended by that, or insulted by that you never do something that can’t be undone. So you might take a stance, they disagree, and you go Yeah, actually, that’s what I meant to and you kind of reverse your position. You’re always checking, asking permission, getting people to confirm and validate that you’re doing the right thing and never sort of just trusting your gut instinct. So it’s a horrible position to be in, you’re spending all your social time anxious and vigilant to it constantly calculating, anticipating correcting, trying to provide value all the time exhausted, by trying to provide so much value so much pleasure. Your closest relationships suffer the most people pleasers generally hurt those who they love. Because once you’ve got someone in and you know that you’ve got them, and they’re not going to leave you, you kind of dismiss them, and you save all your energy for the people who aren’t yet sort of secured. It’s very common for a people pleaser, to burn themselves out pleasing people they don’t even like at work, and then come home and be grumpy and distant and even a tyrant with their family. And you lose track yourself. You’re so busy adjusting and agreeing with everyone all the time that after a few years or decades, you can’t even really recall what your original position on anything was. You’re so used to adjusting to your environment, you don’t actually know where you stand on things. And your preferences, and your opinions and beliefs form who you are, if you’re not in touch with those things, you’re not sure what they are, then you don’t know who you are. And a lot of my clients come to me in their middle age, with this being the main crisis as they kind of wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night. Like who the fuck am I? What do I even believe in and they just don’t know. Of course, all your relationships are conditioned, or at least they feel conditional. You know, you can’t take a break. You can’t ever be sick or be depressed. You can’t be real. Any of these things. If you’re even slightly unpleasant for even a small period of time you think you’re going to lose everybody. So what’s the cure? The key is to just stop, stop the pleasing behaviors. That’s the first and foremost thing you need to do. So identify all of your pleasing, superficial behaviors, everything you do, that’s designed to either make people feel good or prevent them from feeling bad. And just start phasing them out. Stop doing them, reduce doing them. Pull them back when you start doing them and stop doing it in the moment. Even if you’ve started. Just see what happens. Take a risk. See if people really do abandon you. See if the people you love actually leave you when you’re not constantly providing pleasure. What you’ll notice as Yes, some people will lose interest or get upset with you. But if you look at who those people are, you got to ask yourself, are those the people I want in my life? Are they they’re good ones. And then you’re newly freed up time start taking care of yourself. Start pleasing you treating yourself like you’re someone else that you’re trying to please and prioritize your loved ones and yourself over complete strangers or work associates. Well that effort you put into making your boss happy. Put it into being a good father and a good hug. put in a good self. And just take a risk let people not like you let people leave. And just notice that it doesn’t kill you, the world does not come crashing down, you’re not a little kid anymore, you can handle it, of course going to be scared doing this. And if you want some help overcoming that fear and you want some more practical tips, get in touch dan@brojo.org. I’ll walk you through it.

Now, let’s talk about nice guy autism and ADHD comorbidity. And that is the high correlation between nice guy syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. I have a suspicion again, none of this is scientific because nobody studies nice guys. But there’s a combination of being on the spectrum, the autism spectrum, the ADHD, autism spectrum, and the desire to be a good person leading to that that combination leading to nice guy syndrome. Basically, if you take autism, plus a love of people, you get nice guy syndrome. So if we look at autism, what used to be called Asperger’s and now called I don’t know what autism spectrum disorder because the Asperger’s guy turned out to be an artsy or some shit. I still prefer Asperger’s. Autism usually means a difficulty understanding social cues, reading people socially, social dynamics, understanding the game, especially when you’re a kid, the kid game, the Lord of the Flies, thing that happens in primary school and the call rating system, the invisible rating system happens in high school, you know that that’s, that’s just invisible to somebody on the spectrum, they have no idea what’s going on, and they’re unable to figure out how to play this game, when they try to be themselves that just seems to be the wrong thing to do in this environment, they get punished for it, or they see other people doing and seeing them get punished for when the fuck am I going to do that. And so they very early on through traumatic bullying, or just ostracism or just a sense of being different. They start hiding who they really are. And because the hiding of who they are and pretending to be someone, they’re not starts to get better results socially. And when you’re a kid, social status, and fitting in is the most important thing in the world. You know, it’s pretty tempting to develop the nice guy syndrome is a safe remedy to the social ostracism problem, and ADHD, which I do think is just sort of comorbid with autism at any given time. It means you’ve got habits and behaviors that tend to get you ostracized in a place like school. In a struggle to concentrate, you get bad grades, you get into bits of trouble, you do weird things, you get habits, you’re into, like hobbies and stuff that other people don’t understand or that they aren’t cool. You struggle to pay attention, all these things are going to make things difficult for you socially, at least, they’re going to make things difficult for you in the classroom. And then you’re going to be seen as a stupid kid, or you’re going to be seen as the weird kid, because the teachers are punishing you, and sort of isolating you and putting you under the spotlight and so on. Again, you’re going to feel the need to develop some sort of strategy to survive socially. You know, people with ADHD and autism tend to be fixated on things that aren’t popular or common. They like weird things, they’re not really interested in the popular stuff. They have odd habits. They’re hypersensitive, like as the crybaby kid when I was, you know, in primary school and such, and, you know, I just seemed to feel pain more than others and be more sensitive to cold and so on like that. So when you get this comorbidity, you’re there’s different types of merge. And from the extroverted type, you get the performer and the controller types, in my experience working with clients. So these are the ones the extroverts are able to figure out the game, and how it’s played there, I will see the rules that everyone else seems to follow. They don’t understand it, they think it’s stupid, but they can see it, they can figure out how to play the game, too. They kind of decode what it means to be cool and figure out how to fake it. And so if you’re the performer type, you might figure out the cool thing to do. Like you might play the cool sports or play in a band or do whatever you know, be a skateboarder, whatever it is, it’s cool in your school, you’ll figure out that that’s the quickest way to this I’ll be good at that thing that automatically gets me in. It’s pretty simple and effective strategy. Whereas the controller type will learn to start manipulating people, they’ll start to see the game, and they’ll start to see how to use sort of gossip and innuendo and gameplay to put themselves at the center of things. Because people on the spectrum are hyper vigilant and often have like, kind of oversensitive empathy. They actually develop advanced people reading skills. And I think this actually contradicts popular belief around autism that people can’t read faces and so on. I’m sure there’s some people on the spectrum who that applies to, but the ones who have nice guy syndrome have actually figured it out. They know how to read people, they know how to at least calculate based on all the variables in a social situation, how everyone’s probably feeling about everyone else and everything and be able to make move space stoners information kind of like playing chess. Of course, this performer and controller type can only really connect by being fake. So they actually feel alone all the time, they might have a couple of good friends, I was lucky enough to have some real connections. But the problem is, is if you’re manipulating people into liking you, then they don’t actually like you. They like the thing you’re pretending to be. So that thing’s having relationships with people, while you’re sitting back by yourself watching it happen, like it’s on a movie. Like it’s a movie about you, but you’re not in it. That’s actually what it feels like, I’d be at parties watching myself, be liked by all these people. And yet, I’m not myself, my they wouldn’t like this guy, they like that guy, the guy pretend to be, but this guy, fuck that hate him. So they’re not going to meet him. But it works and works enough to get you by. It’s a pretty effective strategy to fake it. And the problem is, it’s not fake it till you make it because there is no making it is just faking it. And it all starts to fall apart when you’re an adult. So later in life, you become really lonely, you start to collapse, because the system and makes people like you it can be effective well into you know, 40s and 50s. But the loneliness never gets cured by it. And you start to resent the world for saying like, this is how I have to socialize, I have to be alone all the time to look like I’m not, if you’re introverted, with the sort of comorbidity you get the wallflower and the inner critic types. And I’ve talked about all these types on a separate podcast if you want to dive into that. So this way, it’s too hard to fake it, you don’t get it. So this might be the people on the spectrum who can’t read the faces, and so on. While the people with ADHD whose habits and peculiarities are just too weird to hide, they’ve been called out for it and they can’t sort of pull back, they just can’t figure out the code. They might even be in a situation where the schools a bit odd or they went from one school to another with totally different cultures. And they just can’t adapt quick enough. And by the time they figure it out too late, because they’re already the outsider, and they can’t get rid of that kind of stigma. So they’re either forced to be a loner, or to hang out in like the loser group where nobody really likes each other, but stick together for like herd security. Or they learn how to fly under the radar to kind of hang out at the edge be included by the kind of more compassionate social groups, but then already noticed, they never make the mark, it just kind of allowed to be there without too much pain. This is the wallflower type. Of course, that lack of experience, because they’re not interacting, they’re not part of things, they get further and further behind in their social development. They’re not learning all the stuff that everyone else learns from hours and hours of socializing. You know, they’re spending most of the time in their own head. And there’s no help in there. There’s no mentoring, or support or practice going on in there. So while everyone else is racking up hours and hours of social skills, they’re being left behind. And that’s when the self loathing will really start to escalate. There’s something wrong with me, I’m different, the universe has targeted me. And you start to think this, you know, I’m the problem. The idea that you just didn’t want to play a game that everyone else is playing, that’s completely fake anyway, it doesn’t occur to you doesn’t occur to you that you might be the one who’s in the right, and everybody else is doing it wrong. They just seem to be having a good time. But by the time you’re an adult, you know, the eventual solution is just to detach, isolate, keep your distance from people live inside your own head that how it’s in there. See, the problem with all these co morbid nice guys is nobody grabbed them, set them down and told them and validated them enough to go look, just own it. Just be this be weird, be you. But be shameless about it and apologetic about it. Stand up for it. You still might might not be accepted in the earlier years, but just give it a minute. Because as an adult, you will be the one who’s got integrity. And as isn’t scared of being truthful, and goes for what they want and creates a life that built for them and everybody else, we try to conform and everything and they’re gonna be the ones who are miserable. You know, there’s an inverse ratio of like popularity and happiness and so on, which is the kids who like crushed it in high school and stuff. They’re the ones who are going to be depressed when they’re older. Right? I’ve seen this too many times to not believe it at this point. You know, basically the weird kids who had a tough time in high school, but sort of stuck to their guns and be like, This is who I am. Fuck you guys. I’m gonna do it anyway. They’re the ones who crushed it as adults, you know, because they’ve signed up to integrity early, they don’t have to make a change that’s kept doing it. And integrity actually works pretty well. When you’re an adult. You struggle with integrity if you go to high school, but these people are Komova these nice guys who have autism and ADHD, generally, they kind of get the worst of both worlds High School suck for them, and then they’re still fake as adults, and so they get to enjoy a win on either side of the fence. You got to understand that this is not a weakness. It’s actually a strength if you know how to exploit it. If you are shameless about it and use it to your advantage. There’s nothing you need. change, you don’t need to join in and play the game. You can actually win by not playing. For start, you’re unique and interesting. You start to notice that people become stereotypes and tropes as they get older and boring. It’s interesting, it’s unattractive. You don’t want to stay in a relationship with it. It’s superficial. Look how popular that guy recently who liked to do Trainspotting, you know, get all excited, watching trains look up popular he was because who else has done it almost no one. To be unique in a world of a billion people is really quite an incredible feat. And when you’ve got ADHD and autism, you’re gonna be unique. And as long as you’re okay with it, other people will actually find it interesting, not everybody, but the right kind of people for you. You’ll be socially intuitive in a way that other people aren’t because you spent so much time trying to understand people so much time reading people. Whereas everybody else just got along thinking that they were being liked and thinking that everything’s fine. They didn’t bother to learn to read other people. And this is why I think there’s so much autism and ADHD in the psychology arts. You know, because we’ve spent so much time worried what other people think that we actually figured out what they’re thinking. And now we can use it as a strength. A lot of you can be refreshingly honest and vulnerable and even brutal with your feedback. And there are certain people in certain situations that are desperate for that. We live in such a fake world now, don’t we? Everybody is so full of shit. We can’t trust politicians. We can’t trust media, we can’t trust celebrities. We can’t trust our friends and family. Everyone seems to be lying nonstop. Their nose is a fucking Oasis, a breath of fresh air to meet someone who can’t lie to you, someone will you know what they’re thinking at all times. And you don’t have to guess or worry about it. As long as you learn to refine it and not be sort of judgmental and unfair and cruel. When you express it. You can become the person that everyone goes to when they need a break from the bullshit. And frankly, you’ll be hyper considerate of others, you’re going to have their victim empathy. You know, when you’re bullied and ostracized, even if it wasn’t particularly mean, you just couldn’t find a way to fit in, you’re going to know what that feels like. And there are a lot of people who feel that way as adults. Even if they didn’t feel that way in high school, they do now, there are a lot of lonely people out there. And very few people seem to understand them. You can be the one who understands them. I mean, everything from social to business opportunities opens up for you. But in order to make it work for you, there are some weaknesses that you need to overcome or work around. Firstly, just the shame about who you are doesn’t matter that you have all these strings if you’re ashamed of them. If you’re apologetic, if you hide them, if when you talk about them, you’re defensive and huffy. If you own it all, then all work for you. But if you’re apologetic for it, then other people will think there’s something wrong with you as well. You may have become judgmental and harsh about others, either you’re just not very good at expressing honesty without being too brutal. Or after years of being ostracized, you become bitter and resentful. And you’ve got really like negative views of other people think they’re all bullies, and you think they’re all assholes. When actually there’s just not the case, you might need to get to know people a bit better. And find out that hey, there are some people who would have been nice to you, if you just talked to them might have spent your whole life trying to be fake, rather than trying to find your own communication style, might have learned to talk how everyone else talks, and lost your own voice. You got to be able to speak in your own voice, you get you know, sort of cheesy as it sounds, but you stop trying to be cool. And sort of back yourself and say what you want to say the way you want to say it, let other people figure out whether they like it or not. And a lot of you in your desperate attempt to fit in will have bad foot connections, a lot of us will even be unconscious, you’ll be like man, everybody I work with there’s always toxic, not realizing you’re choosing those jobs, because you’re choosing the type of people that you want to fit in with, even though they’re not great people might have a string of bad relationships, you might have friends that don’t treat you very well. You’ve got to learn to let go their desperation of fit and be willing to be alone and ostracized in order to create space for people that actually like you the way you are.

So we’ve talked about a nice guy syndrome psychology, and let’s just talk a bit about the general cure. So it does matter what type you are doesn’t matter about the nuances that we’ve talked about today. There are different approaches required, depending on which of these things are relevant to you. So no nice guy is the same as another I’ve coached hundreds of nice guys, and none of them are identical to any of the others, they’ve all got their own little thing at least, and some of them are vastly different from others. And this is why I recommend coaching. I’m not just selling my own services here. But you need to work with someone who’s going to work with your unique traits in your unique problems and goals. There’s no really broad brush approach that’s going to cure every nice guy out there, or at least likely not going to get all the little bits and pieces that you need. So you want to find someone who can identify the type you are work with you with your unique situation. You know, focus on what really matters to you. That being said, here are some general things that generally work for everyone that I help all values work. Figure out what your core values are and start living by them. It’s all pieces and courses and everything in my material on this you can get in touch and I’ll hook you up, be honest about your preferences as one of the things that nice guys have in common is they hide their preferences in order to fit in, be agreeable, be funny, whatever. Whatever it is you want or don’t want, try to be as honest as you can about that no matter what problems that may cause have high standards in your social circle. And I don’t mean superficial materialistic standards. But in terms of the quality, how people treat you what kind of people they are, you know, the kind of people that encourage you to be your best rather than the kind of people who kind of use you or whatever. And weed your garden, if there’s anyone in your current social circle is not amazing, and isn’t seriously encouraging you to live your best. Cut them out, even if they’re not particularly harmful, create the space, learn to be shameless about who you really are, and to be open about the nice guy syndrome stuff and whatever stuff that you might think of as mental illness or mental disorder, or lack of skill or whatever, just be open about all of it, own it be what you are, rather than pretending to be something you’re not. He can fix and correct some stuff that’s causing you problems. But at any given time, you’ve got to be okay with it as well, wherever it isn’t that stage of development. And that comes from just being honest about it. Trade in perfectionism, the brave experimentation state of trying to get things right. Try to work on things consistently over time, you know, rough drafts, trial and error, getting things wrong to figure out what’s right, is a much more effective and healthy approach than trying to present an image that everyone agrees with all the time, question your own motives. And try to resist acting on anything that feels like a people pleasing urge. Or it feels like it comes from some dark place, you’re not really sure why you’re doing it or you notice yourself justifying it. Rather than just feeling like it’s right and aligned with your values. Slow yourself down. Don’t act on all these impulses all the time, identify face and overcome your social fears. There’s so many different fun ways you can do this. From making a scene and public to making phone calls, whatever it is you need to do. If you’re afraid of something socially run towards it, rather than away from it. until there’s nothing left to run towards practice giving rather than pleasing. A very simple way to do this is to take the credit out of it. So try to make other people’s lives better without them noticing that it was you that did it without you getting the glory without you getting rewarded, trying to train yourself to enjoy the act of giving rather than the reaction. Generally, just be more real. Express your darkness with powerful honesty. Show people where you actually are rather than what you think they want to see. And whatever small amount that you can handle at this moment is slowly build up over time. And if you found this helpful, once more get in touch dan@brojo.org. And we can take this further. Thank you so much for listening. I hope that brought some sort of awareness into your life. And I’m happy to answer your questions. I’ll see you next time.

 

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