Shame Part Two : But I’m So Nice.

Nice guys always finish last, women just like assholes, I gave her everything, she never appreciates me, people only call me when they need something, no one understands me…

What do all of these phrases have in common? What are the feelings behind these words?

Could it be, I was a good boy and didn’t get a cookie?

What’s the cookie?

The prize…

What’s a prize?

Approval…

What’s the opposite of approval?

Shame.

Thoroughly brain fucked yet? I was too but once I understood it my life changed.

I’v always had loving supportive people around me but I always felt as if I couldn’t connect with anyone. My circle of friends, my family, and colleague’s… I was always one of the guys but never felt like I fit in. I couldn’t connect with my kids on a personal level and my relationships with women seemed to be the equivalent of a 99 yard punt return for a touchdown called back for holding at the 5 yard line. It was great at first but then I found myself living in a co-habitational friend zone with her. What was it? Why did my relationships seem so superficial? Everyone else was just there, doing their thing and I was spending every waking moment trying to be good enough for everybody.

Of course, I went through all the stages. Blaming the stutter, women are crazy, my kids don’t appreciate me, people just use me – da da da here I go again on my own, walking down the only road I’ve ever known da da da. The younger crowd might not get that one, but it was everybody else’s fault. I was all by myself in this cruel selfish world and while everybody else was getting what they wanted I was losing my career, my relationships and friends.

Some things can’t be learned until you’re ready and at that point, I had nothing to lose. The awesome thing about rock bottom and having nothing to lose is that you lose the blinders that kept you from seeing the big picture. You also lose your ego and can admit when you were wrong.

The making of a nice guy.

When a child is born, he has no shame. He’s perfectly comfortable laying around naked, shitting himself and crying till he gets what he wants. Basically he has no problem expressing himself or his needs.

Kinda sounds like the “asshole” that she chose over you right… We’re getting to that.

What happened to make that baby, who even defenseless, was able to assert himself into the world authentically stop asserting himself? He was validated for doing the opposite. He was taught that it was not acceptable to be naked, shit or cry. This makes sense to us as grownups because we understand the importance of hygiene and decency but a child cannot differentiate between the behavior not being good and HIM not being good. In other words we are taught the customs of our individual societies or cultures through being shamed into compliance. He does not understand that being naked in public is not acceptable but he is still valued. He only understands, he is not acceptable. He does not understand it is not acceptable to cry when he has needs, he only comprehends, It is unacceptable for him to have needs. Kids cannot see the bigger picture. In their defenseless and vulnerable state all they think is I and me. Context does not exist in their understanding of things.

As this baby grows into a boy he is rewarded for generosity, kindness and compliance. What a good boy, what a gentleman… women kiss him and hug him and pat his head. This is great he’s learning manners and etiquette but what about him? When he expresses his needs or cry’s is he hugged and kissed? Are his feeling heard with understanding? Or the huffing of exhausted parents expressing what a burden he is? Can he be cared for, accepted and validated if he is not a good boy who puts others before himself? Is he taught that he and his needs are valid and valuable? Usually not… I did this as a parent too.

So what does a boy do? He’s too young to meet his own needs and shamed when he expresses them. He becomes nice. Not good, not kind, not chivalrous, but nice. Full of compliments, favors and self-sacrifice. What’s wrong with that? Nothing’s wrong with that if it’s given freely with nothing expected in return. That’s good, kind and chivalrous.

Keeping score because your only doing it for something in return is… nice.

At this point the boy grows into a man and if he is still in this state he sheds it through raising his self-esteem and creating his own sense of self-worth. Or he doesn’t and tells his chic friends all about how women treat him so badly and they say… but you’re such a nice guy. They won’t date him and can’t see him as attractive even if he is but assure him that someday, some girl will.

Because they know, maybe they don’t know they know, but their intuition knows and that’s why they won’t date him and can’t feel attraction for him.

See, the guy you consider to be an asshole might be if he’s abusive but in reality and more than likely he’s just not ashamed to tell her what he needs or wants while you throw nice guy tokens of compliments and favors into the please like me meter until sex pops out. Most guys have done this and every guy with an ounce of self-respect knows how slimy it feels. Why did the asshole get the promotion? Maybe he told the boss he wanted it and was confident in his abilities, while you were supplicating and pandering. What you consider assholish might just be a healthy amount of self-esteem and ambition.

I know all this is harsh but most men go through this. This is a painful place for a man to be in. The heartache and self-hate that stems from this paradigm can ruin his life if not understood. Some at 13 and some 35. I figured it out late but doing so has enhanced my relationships with everybody on every level. When you learn that you are valuable and that it’s normal to be imperfect and have needs you learn to express them in healthy ways. First, you learn to say NO. You learn to express yourself and it feels empowering. You don’t do things to make people like you and they like you more. You’ve probably, unknowingly gas lighted you wife into thinking she was a selfish bitch for not catering to your emotional fragility. Only time can fix that but you have to be the catalyst. Work on yourself, explore your masculinity. She’ll feel the change in you if you’re sincere about strengthening yourself.

I’m passionate about this because I am passionate about people. My purpose is to heal the parts of me that keep me from being the best son, brother, partner, dad and friend I can be. An inability to express your needs and get over the shame of having them leads down a road of codependency, manipulation and loneliness. And just in case I’m being misunderstood… Women are not at fault here. It’s not about women, it’s about us men. This is our responsibility to ourselves and our sons to validate ourselves and teach them that they are valuable. Have real talks, wipe their tears with affection, play fight with them, show them how to channel their natural aggression. Teach them that their desires for affection and love are not something they have to beg for; it will come naturally as they learn to love themselves and respect others.

One of my heroes, Dr. Robert Glover said “Nice guys are like Teflon, nobody can stick to them.” It’s your rough edges that attract people. Everybody has imperfections and rough edges. If you want real relationships, real friendships, real romance and real success you have to be the real you. The imperfect man with needs who expresses them in honesty and validates others in sincerity. The next time you catch yourself trying to get something from someone else by being nice; love, friendship, validation… Remember they can see through it and the only way that you will ever have authentic relationships is to expose your rough edges and imperfections without shame. You’ll be surprised how much people actually like the real you.

Photo credit – MarinaPokupcic@123rf.com

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