Rule Number Eighteen for Overcoming the Nice Guy SyndromeFeb 12, 2020
We teach people how to treat us. When we allow the intolerable to happen, we're saying, "it's okay to treat me like that." Nice Guys tend to tolerate the unacceptable because we learned from an early age, that our needs are not important. We were also taught that If we don't stand there and suck it up, then we will be in trouble.
When confronted with intolerable behavior, the Nice Guy often freezes up! His "fight or flight" is triggered. However, this causes an internal dilemma; does he fight (set a boundary) or flight (run from the problem). He wants to stand up for himself, but his conditioning tells him to acquiesce his power. Stuck between the "Fight" and the "Flight" he Freezes. His conditioned behavior kicks in, and he does what he has always done and sucks it up one more time.
Afterward, his internalized toxic shame rises to the top, and he beats himself up for not taking a stand. It becomes yet another feedback loop from hell that acts as more evidence that proves to himself that he's not okay just as he is.
How does one go about changing this behavior? It's not easy, on the one hand, we're dealing with biology. The brain has been conditioned, like one of Pavlov's dogs, to freeze when confronted with bad behavior. What needs to happen is a conscious reversal of the conditioned response. We need to choose to recondition our nervous system by learning to self-sooth. Self-soothing is something Nice Guys are woefully unskilled at doing.
An excellent place to start is to develop a habit of meditation and mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness can reprogram and slow down the brain's fight or flight response. When the mind isn't triggered, it can calmly think of an appropriate response. With a calm mind, we learn to set a boundary. We confidently say, "It's not okay to treat me like that. Please stop. If it continues, I will need to remove myself. " When we set boundaries, we recondition our brains with a new experience and begin to erase the toxic shame from our lives.
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