“That’s just the way I
am” he said in a tone of tired resignation.
I was talking to a man, let's call him Peter, who described himself as trapped in an exploitative and manipulative relationship.
Certainly the bare facts suggested that the woman concerned was taking Peter for a ride. I asked him why he did not speak out, or even get out.
“I just can’t”, he said, “I’m sort of protective by nature and no way can I hurt her. It’s just the way I am.”
When he uttered those fateful words “it’s just the way I am”, I knew exactly what was going on. Peter was indeed caught in a trap - not by his partner’s actions - but by his own limiting beliefs, by his self-image.
When he uttered those fateful words “it’s just the way I am”, I knew exactly what was going on. Peter was indeed caught in a trap - not by his partner’s actions - but by his own limiting
Our self-image is the inner picture we have of ourself, of what we are capable of and not capable of. A strong self-image will get us places in this life. However for most of us our self-image is formed from the rules, judgements and beliefs we received in early life when we lacked cognitive skills or emotional intelligence.
So mostly our self image is a prison that prevents us from being all we could be.
Peter’s self image had a large element of a character I write a lot about: Mr Nice Guy. Mr NG is on the outside, passive, easy-going, amenable, protective. But on the inside there is pressure. Pressure from the denial of his own needs. Pressure from his unexpressed feelings. Pressure from his self disempowerment.
In Peter’s case there was fear too. “If I’m not always nice to women, I’ll be seen as a complete monster” he told me. Now we are getting somewhere! Some time long ago most likely, little boy Peter was told off by an adult - “You are just a monster! You are a horrid little boy and I don't love you”.
So Peter's self-image became "I am a monster and I must never let it show or I'll not be loved. I need to act nice all the time." Enter Mr Nice Guy - Exit real Peter
So Peter’s self-image became “I am a monster and I must never let it show or I’ll not be loved. I need to act nice all the time.” Enter Mr Nice Guy. Exit real Peter.
I really felt for Peter because I’ve been just the same. I grew up as a classic
Why do we cling on to a limiting self-image? Partly it is inertia. Our self-image is familiar and comfortable.
Mainly though it is fear.
Are you caught in the Mr Nice Guy trap? Do you recognize yourself in this story. May be not exactly the same, may be not in all areas of your life, but is a Mr NG lurking there somewhere?
The good news is that you can show Mr Nice Guy the door and not become a monster
The good news is that you can show Mr Nice Guy the door and not become a monster. He is just an act after all. The self-image is just that, an image, and an image can be changed. It is simply a matter of replacing a limiting and false self-image with an empowering and true one.
And no you will not become a monster. But you will be recognised as a man of integrity and power.
It took me a long time and many false starts to change my Mr Nice Guy act mainly because a big part of my self-image told me it was weak to seek help from anyone. If I’d sought guidance and the right kind of guidance had been available, I could have got there much more directly.
I have developed a five step self-image makeover
programme for my coaching clients
How do you change? I have developed a five step self-image makeover
- Create a clear sense of the outcomes you are seeking and a strong motivation to get there
- Recognize the dimensions of your self-image that are holding you back
- Question the beliefs and release the fears that are trapping you in a limiting self-image
- Create and rehearse an empowering and true self-image
- Gain confidence and experience in embodying your updated self-image in your life and relationships.
These are the exact steps that would enable Peter to level with his manipulative partner and claim his right to have his own needs met. It is going to take him out of his comfort zone into unexplored territory but ultimately he is going to be a much happier and more fulfilled man, secure in his power and his truth.
I’ve found this programme has helped, not just with Mr Nice Guy syndrome, but with many other issues that men come to me seeking help with including, relationship difficulties, porn addiction, sexual dysfunction and more.
If you want to explore further how you can get out of the “It’s just how I am” trap and into the freedom of “I decide what I am”, book yourself in for a FREE online
I look forward to talking with you.
I'm Nick Hudis a men's coach, natural virility specialist and author. I do one to one coaching with men and write books and articles like this. Read more about my story here.