Today was a big day.
It was the day I looked down at the depths of my anger and couldn’t see the bottom.
What was a suspicion turned out to be darker, deeper, and broader than I imagined. It was an ocean of anger I pretended was a puddle, and the costs were remarkable.
Jobs, friendships, relationships, and my physical health at times were all casualties of this anger, and I did my damndest to cover it up.
It wasn’t until I stopped pretending to be “nice” that I began to see the vastness of my being and the breadth of capabilities. Through acceptance, I found uncharted waters full of beauty, mystery, and danger.
The following is a story about owning and integrating the depth of repressed emotions.
Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last
Some Nice Guys are very successful. They own companies, work in upper management, own large amounts of equity, have families, homes, cars, etc. I’ve met these guys and have coached them.
Unfortunately, these men are unhappy. They’ve hit their 40s, and suddenly they’ve woken up to what feels like someone else’s dream. But, whether it was their parents, grandparents, the church, or society in general that influenced them, they’ve been living a lie.
Almost everything they have has been what someone else wanted for them, and now that middle age has arrived, they feel trapped.
Every day is Halloween for the Nice Guy because it’s a costume. It’s a mask, a cover-up, a facade for feelings that weren’t allowed, and a belief that pleasing everyone will grant them access to an anxiety-free life.
That facade could have gotten him a boat, but that boat might be stagnant in the marina collecting barnacles. He could have the Mercedes, but he might feel a little numb when he sees it because it’s all just for show. It doesn’t mean shit.
He could have a closet full of expensive suits, ties, and shoes, but it’s all just a uniform for a man who doesn’t feel.
I have nothing against suits, cars, boats, homes, or families, but what I’ve been seeing is a repeating pattern that leads to lives filled with meaningless toys, loveless and sexless marriages, divorces, and addictions to dating dangerous but exciting women.
Nice Guys don’t finish last, but they’re the last to acknowledge their authentic states of being.
The Great Coverup
Being “nice” is not being nice at all.
As most women know, men who show up as Nice Guys will annoy them, get put in the friend zone, make creepy, awkward moves to get sexual or romantic with them, and will generally ignore all the signs that say, “Dude, she’s just not into you!”
The Nice Guy uses victimhood, emotional manipulation, and coercion to get what he wants or needs. He’ll stay in the friend zone, a dead-end job, a dead-end career, or in a relationship he’s unhappy with for far too long. Then he ends up cheating on his partner, developing a porn or substance addiction, and blames all of his problems on others.
Or, he stays complacent, ignoring the signs from the woman he’s with that she’s not feeling seen or heard, and lets the relationship slip into a coma until one day he wakes up and she’s left him for another man — probably one she’s been seeing on the side for months.
The Nice Guy is a flimsy coverup for repressed emotions and his authentic self. His core beliefs tell him that he’s imperfect and therefore unlovable, he must please everyone at the expense of himself, and by being a victim or martyr, the world will reward him.
What will truly bring about change and allow the Nice Guy to start getting his needs met is first to recognize why he’s been living this way. Some questions he can ask himself are:
- What feelings am I avoiding by being “nice?”
- What are my beliefs about men?
- What are my beliefs about women?
- What are my beliefs about my family?
- What are my beliefs about myself?
- Who do I need to be to start living the life I want?
- What version of myself will I be proud of when I’m on my deathbed?
I’ve been thinking about my legacy lately, what my future self wants, and how I would like to feel looking back on my existence.
Would I be happy with an inauthentic life? Would I be ok with playing it safe? Would my future self be proud of the man I became, or would I have a warehouse of regrets?
Writing the answers to these questions has helped me clarify my direction and my decisions today.
If you’re a Nice Guy, chances are you’ve been like me. You have a hidden well of anger that’s like natural gas under a half-mile of shale, pressurized and waiting to come out at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
You’ve been afraid of this anger, so you buried it, thinking that if it just went underground, it would somehow go away.
We were wrong, weren’t we?
No matter how thick our Nice Guy costume is, it’s never enough to keep all of it contained.
The women in our lives know it’s there; we’ve been showing it to them over the dumbest shit.
Flying into a rage that my car got scratched or the guitar fell over. Furious over the stain on my new shirt or getting lost on a country road with no reception.
No woman wants a man who is blown over by a breeze.
How do I go about changing it?
The first step is to acknowledge its existence. The next step is to feel it, and then I can see it for what it is.
Perhaps it’s not anger at all, but sadness, grief, disappointment, hurt, or some other vulnerable emotion that doesn’t register as “manly.”
Men will often mutate “shameful” emotions into anger because that’s an acceptable emotion. I’m not saying that pure anger is unacceptable or unreal. I’m saying that it’s helpful to recognize genuine emotions and label them accordingly.
If unresolved feelings stay transformed as anger, they’re going to be around for a very, very long time.
Here are some steps to get clarity:
- Find a quiet place in which you can close your eyes without distractions.
- As you breathe, do a body scan starting at the top of your head and slowly bring your awareness down. Notice any tension, tightness, radiation, pain, or discomfort.
- Hone in on that place in your body and imagine what that feeling would look like if it were in physical form. Think about the shape, color, texture, etc. Hold the image in your mind as you look at it from multiple angles.
- If that object had a voice, what would it say to you? What stories or images are in that object?
- When you are ready, journal about the experience and write out as much as possible until there’s nothing left, then ask yourself, “What else?” and write some more. Empty your thoughts and feelings around this experience.
A common ideal for males is the Integrated Man, yet few men can define who that is. I do a healthy amount of shadow work with people, where what’s hidden is made conscious through talking, journaling, and meditating.
Since humans are notoriously good at denial, it is no surprise that men suppress thoughts, urges, desires, and emotions at a subconscious level. We don’t want to experience past traumas in our daily lives, so we stuff them into some dark closet and lock the door.
Unfortunately, what’s behind that door will not stay hidden for long and will instead control our behaviors through feelings. These are typically called triggers.
Integrating the shadow means opening up that closet door and letting everything out. As Carl Jung said, “What you resist not only persists but will grow in size.” Therefore, getting congruent with our shadow material will relieve that built-up tension and allow for a great degree of healing.
The majority of the people I work with, both professionally and in a broader recovery sense, have some form of sexual abuse in their history.
Unfortunately, if unacknowledged, this too gets put inside that closet, only to come out in the form of sex and love addiction, compulsive avoidance, codependency or counterdependency, eating disorders, and general anxiety.
Acknowledgment & Release
By acknowledging my anger and allowing myself to process it, I begin a long-overdue healing process. In addition, I’ve learned to spot it in others based on how they treat themselves and the people around them.
When we were children, we were too small and dependent to defend ourselves against the misdeeds of our parents, so the emotions turn inward. We become self-destructive, and while we may think we can convince the world that we’re “nice,” the anger will surface one way or another.
It’s better to see the ocean for what it is than to pretend it’s only two inches of water. The subconscious mind has a lot more depth and power than we realize, so I invite you to dive in.
If you enjoyed this, sign up for my newsletter and get weekly life and relationship advice, a free workbook, and early access pricing.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You Might Also Like These From The Good Men Project
|Compliments Men Want to Hear More Often||Relationships Aren’t Easy, But They’re Worth It||The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex||..A Man’s Kiss Tells You Everything|
Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Silas Baisch on Unsplash