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Or email me for more support email@example.com This video is an excerpt from the above-mentioned online course.
Far too often, people pleasing is dismissed as a superficial habit that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. And yet, for nice guys and people pleasers, this behaviour hides dark secrets and significant trauma wounds. People pleasing is not just some nice little behaviours to get along with others, it is a deep-seated Avoidant Attachment strategy designed to prevent pain, rejection, and even connection. In this video, I outline some of the reasons why you need to treat people pleasing as if it’s a serious mental illness, and identify many of the damaging consequences it has in your life, some of which you might never before have considered to be an outcome of being nice.
Now today in this video, we’re going to talk a bit about why you should address nice guy syndrome and people pleasing. Now I imagine if you’ve undertaken this course, you’ve already got plenty of reasons why you want to address it. So maybe this video is more about helping you identify some of the problems in your life that you may not have realized are related to being a nice guy or a people pleaser. And this video is also for anybody who’s not yet convinced that people pleasing such a bad thing. And hopefully, this video will help you link some of the people pleasing you’ve been doing with some of the areas of your life that aren’t going so well.
Number one, loneliness caused by superficial friendships and relationships. So the nice guy syndrome people pleasing is all about fear. It’s all about fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, a kind of mixture of fear of people getting too close and being too far away. And what it does is it prevents a genuine connection from happening. Because we’re always trying to make people like us and keep them in a pleasurable emotional state, we have to be fake a lot of the time, because if we’re real they’re gonna have a range of emotions around us. And we fear that for various reasons. So because we don’t let people have a range of emotions around us, we cannot create deep connections. And that’s why even people who have been married for decades still don’t feel deeply connected to their partner. A number of my clients have had friends and relationships that have gone on for many years, and yet still aren’t fully honest in those relationships.
Emotional shame. This is simply wrongness attached to any normal natural human emotions. For Nice Guys and people pleasers, this is often emotions like anxiety, anger, disgust, depression, confusion, pretty much any emotion that isn’t happiness or calmness or unaffectedness. And because you have shame attached to these emotions, you can develop quite severe pathology. You can really hurt your mind and your brain by trying to suppress normal natural human emotions. And considering you’re giving yourself such a tiny band of emotions that you’re allowed to experience, you end up becoming quite numb emotionally, because you just can’t suppress all emotions and have a healthy outcome. So you can end up becoming quite depressed, you can end up losing motivation, not wanting to live anymore even, simply because you’re not allowing yourself to feel, which means really not allowing yourself to live.
Exhaustion and stress from keeping up the act. It’s hard work being a people pleaser. You have to put on this performance all the time. And if you’ve got that chameleon thing going, you have to remember the different performance you need for each different person. There’s a lot of things to remember if they’re all in the room at the same time, you’ve got to keep this kind of balancing act going. You’re constantly hyper vigilant to what everyone’s thinking and feeling about you. You’re constantly worrying. You’re trying really hard to be liked. It is exhausting. A lot of you will have chronic anxiety, a lot of you will have sleep problems, a lot of you will just feel really depressed and down all the time, simply because you’re working so hard every time you’re in a social situation.
Imposter syndrome. Yet another syndrome. This is the feeling that you’re going to be caught out for being a fraud, that everything that people think is good about you as an act. And one day it’s all going to come crashing down. Now it’s probably actually fair enough for you to have this concern because you are acting and yes, it could all unravel, you could get caught being the fake person that you’re being. But of course constantly worrying about that means you’re double checking, overthinking things all the time, constantly watching people to see how they’re reacting, constantly hiding things and worried that you’re gonna get found out. Again, very exhausting, and stressful.
Confusion about who you really are. There’s a type of acting called method acting, where the actor actually pretends to be the character even when they’re not filming, even when they’re not on stage. They just keep it going to kind of stay in character. And studies have shown that actors who do this too intensely or for too long actually take on traits from the character that pretending to be, permanently. They actually become that character a little bit for the rest of their lives. Perhaps nice guys are no different. We put on a performance for so long, after a few decades or even just a few years, we start to forget who the person is that’s putting on the performance, and we actually become it. This is why a lot of people pleasers think of themselves as honest, it’s because they’ve been living a lie for so long that they assume that it must be the truth.
An unsatisfying, unhealthy sex life. There’s a lot of sexual shame involved in people pleasing and nice guy syndrome. You know, we often see the worst of the syndrome come out when people are in romantic relationships. We have a lot of shame around sex as a culture around the world. So it’s kind of double for people pleasers. So it might be that you find sex really anxiety provoking, performance issues, or perhaps you’re constantly worried about how well you’re performing for the other person, and it’s all about them. And you’re really worried about how they’re perceiving you. We have like an obsession with it, you can’t stop thinking about it. Whenever you date someone all you’re thinking about is where it’s gonna go sexually, and so on. Anything where you feel like the concept of sex just takes up an unhealthy bandwidth in your life.
Having a career or a job that you’re good at, but you don’t like. Now this is a classic one for people pleasers, we tend to gravitate towards things that get approval. And that’s, of course, things that we’re good at. We tend to stick with what we’re really competent at, what we find really easy, especially something we find easy to learn and get better at quickly. And we tend to avoid things that are difficult or people don’t care about them, or it’s going to take us a long time to learn. And because of this, we tend to get funneled into a job or a career simply because we have a good skill set in that particular area. But this is not the same as enjoying your job. Sure, you might enjoy the approval and praise that you get for being good at it. But the way to figure this out is to ask yourself, if I was to give you $10 million, would you keep working at your job? And if the answer is yes, why? Is it because you love the job? Or is it because it’s a great source of approval? And if the answer is no, then you gotta ask yourself, why are you in the job in the first place when you can probably get another one?
Bubbling anger, resentment or even hate if you’re willing to admit that to yourself. The suppression of dark and negative emotions constantly over time kind of toxifying your psyche. You start to develop really screwed up and dark ideas and beliefs because of these emotions that you keep suppressing. You might, for example, have resentment towards women. Or you might have racism, or you might just have a self loathing, or you might have a bitterness about the world and about people. This comes from 1000 wounds 100,000 wounds, every time you’ve been upset or bothered by something and suppressed it and haven’t lived it out and expressed it, it’s added to this toxic ball of sort of hate that building in you. As you can imagine, that doesn’t lead to the most enjoyable life.
Bingeing and addictions. Porn, online shopping, food, Netflix, gaming, drinking and drugs. Anything where you find yourself doing a lot of it even though you know it’s unhealthy, a compulsive behavior. Maybe you do it every day, or at least you feel like you can’t stop yourself from doing it. And you have to justify it to yourself, you have to talk yourself into it because you know it’s wrong for you. This is usually the symptom or the consequence of not dealing with dark and negative emotions. So all that stress and anger and confusion and all the other stuff we talked about before that you’re not expressing and dealing with properly, kind of subvert into a cortisol stress system that you feel the need to get relief from, which is dopamine, and because dopamine comes from those short term pleasurable activities. This of course leads to lots of long term problems. If for example, you’re bingeing on porn, it’s going to affect your ability to perform in the bedroom, it’s going to affect your ability and your motivation to create romantic relationships. It’s going to give you really screwed up beliefs around sex and people you’re attracted to. It generally just kind of spirals downwards in terms of your social life. And this is basically true for every type of bingeing or addiction.
A growing frustration with life. The idea that things are unfairly stacked against you, that you’re kind of targeted, you’re being bullied by the universe, that things are just not going the way they should for you. This can build up really dark beliefs around the way the world works and a sense of resentment and need for vengeance. You might find yourself in subtle, passive aggressive ways taking this out on people, punishing them, and punishing yourself for not getting what you deserve. As you can imagine, over the years this only gets worse and worse until eventually say you become the kind of person who’s really destructive as a parent, you’re taking out all your insecurities on your kids. That comes up from a buildup of a lifetime of feeling that things are unfair, simply because you didn’t go for what you wanted properly.
People pleasers tend to treat those close to them worse than those far away. So basically, if you’re in the inner circle of a nice guy, like their close personal friends, partner, family, there’s a good chance you’re going to be treated worse than a total stranger or a vague acquaintance at work. When a nice guy people please feels safe with someone they generally kind of dismiss the need to keep pleasing them, and instead focus on the others who they don’t feel so safe with, like strangers or your boss or whomever. And so generally the closer you are to a people pleaser, the worse treatment you get. If you’re treating those closest to you who treat you the best and love you the most worse than you treat strangers, surely you can see there’s something wrong with that.
And last but not least, you let yourself down, you breach your own values, you don’t live with integrity, you’re constantly doing something that you wouldn’t want done to you. You often have this double standard where you treat people in a way that you wouldn’t want them to treat you. You often breach what you want and go against what you believe in in order to please other people. And this makes it very hard to look in the mirror and like who you see, because you’re constantly disrespecting that person. You’ve got to understand all of your self worth issues have nothing to do with anyone else. It might have started that way. Maybe you had a really discouraging abusive parent or you had a narcissistic sibling or you’re bullied in school. Sure, somebody else started this, but you’re the one who keeps going by disrespecting yourself through breaching your integrity just to please other people. I’ll tell you what, of all the things we’ve talked about that’s got to be the worst. You can stop doing that. You’ll discover self confidence yet again.