I’ve written several times about the Nice Guy (the female version is a pleaser), the struggles he faces in his life and relationships, as well as the impact “niceness” has upon both men and women in marriage.
Nice Guys are often wimps.
In fact, Nice Guys tend to play the wimpy victim role very well. You can hear it in what they say to themselves and others:
“It’s just not fair.”
“How come she always gets her way?”
“If they would just …”
The Nice Guy paradigm begins in childhood as a survival mechanism. In order to get their love and attention needs met they develop this belief: “If I’m good and do what’s right, I’ll be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem free life.”
The problem with childhood survival mechanisms, we carry them forward into adulthood and expect them to work like they did when we were children.
We all do this to some degree, but they seldom work as intended. The Nice Guy however, carries with him the belief that he can create a problem free and smooth life.
The truth is, this is an impossibility.
Life is chaotic. Life is struggle. Life is filled with things beyond our control. But the Nice Guy believes otherwise. He is convinced that if he does everything right, everything will go right in his life.
The Nice Guy reacts to the fear of an out of control world by seeking to control everything around him, thus eliminating the fear (at least in his mind).
To move beyond fear and seeking to control everything around you, you must reclaim your personal power. This is the state of mind that is confident you can handle whatever life throws your way. It’s the ability to face the fear of a situation in life and do it anyway.
The first step to reclaiming personal power involves surrendering.
Ironically, the most important aspect of reclaiming personal power is surrender – letting go of what you can’t change and changing what you can – and once again, this begins and ends with you.
I’ve worked with many married clients who’ve felt stuck in their marriage and under the power of their spouse. They didn’t want out of the marriage, only to feel unstuck. When they realized that they alone are responsible for their life and then lived according to their own integrity and values, they began reclaiming their personal power and changing their life. And due to the nature of systems, when they changed, their marriage changed – mostly for the better.
Steve (name changed obviously due to confidentiality) is a good example of this process. When he came to therapy, he wanted to “fix” his spouse because she was moody, depressed, and had almost no interest in sex. As the process unfolded, Steve began to acknowledge and own up to his role in the marriage. He also realized that he had almost no outside interests and no male friends. All of his attention was focused on his wife and her “issues.”
Steve wanted the magic key that would help his wife feel better, thus increasing the likelihood that she’d then meet some of his needs. He also lived in tremendous fear that his wife would leave him if he didn’t take care of her.
He was in a major quandary.
The answer to his dilemma was discovered when began to no longer work to change his wife and focused on changing himself. He began to realize that he could not control his wife and her moods or interests, but he could control his.
When Steve began to live more in line with his core values and integrity and less in fear of his wife’s reactions and feelings, a tremendous shift occurred in their marriage. He found that he has less disappointments and frustrations with his wife and began seeing her as a “gift” in his life. At the same time, his wife began to step up and address her frustrations in her own life and sought help for her depressed moods.
This process involved a great deal of fear and anxiety for both Steve and his wife, but they faced the fear and moved forward knowing they could handle whatever may happen.
Perhaps you’re in a similar situation or you’ve noticed that you’re a Nice Guy (or pleaser) and want to change. If so, join Married Life 911 and take some steps towards regaining the personal power in your life.