The Hidden Trauma of Niceness
Learn about the hidden trauma behind nice guy behaviors in this contributed post
The Hidden Trauma of Niceness
by JR from Austin
As a recovering nice guy spending plenty of time in therapy, research and self-reflection I have noticed that one of the serious causes of my nice guy behavior is complex emotional trauma.
Growing up in my highly controlled home I learned how to be nice through punishment for doing the wrong thing.
Instead of being properly corrected I was punished physically or through shame (i.e.: the doghouse).
Since the home was controlled through a narcissistic matriarchy I was punished when I would stand up for myself or saying anything that challenged my mother's viewpoints.
Niceness was reinforced through coercion.
Because of that I developed CPTSD and have constant flashbacks.
Flashbacks are emotional responses that are triggered by sensitive events that would send a person emotionally back to the time they were being abused.
With proper treatment and acknowledgment of these issues a person can minimize or even completely remove the emotional charge of these flashbacks.
Now where this all ties in with Complex Trauma is that the man has been conditioned from his formative years to associate assertive behaviors with rejection and abuse.
He will cling to his nice guy behavior like a glove since consciously he will think it is the right thing to do.
(A lot of the time nice behavior is the right thing to do)
On a deeper subconscious emotional level though he will cling to it since he has been programmed to believe assertive behavior will lead to abuse and rejection.
When abuse and rejection happen it will often cause him to flashback to when he was a child and was getting abused.
Because the flashbacks are so horrible he will cling to the nice guy behavior to avoid them at all costs.
This will cause the nice guy to cling to cowardly behaviors in situations when assertiveness is absolutely necessary.
Behaving in an attractive manner with women is something that comes to mind here.
Now is this condition hopeless?
The more a person has been traumatized the more time and effort they will need to work through the damage.
First and foremost the traumatized person would need to go see a qualified therapist who understands complex trauma as it relates to the person's individual need.
A female therapist who specializes in helping women who have been abused by past lovers would probably not understand the needs of a man who has been emasculated etc.
Second the person would need to be driven to work on the problem on his own as well. He can learn new skills and understand how the bullying tactics were used against him.
Learning that will help him find a new sense of empowerment.
Third, the situation tends to be highly ingrained into the psyche so the person would have to be patient with the process. It can take years for someone with CPTSD to heal.
With this hard work and patience the traumatized nice guy can build a far better life and start winning instead of just breaking even.
By no means is this article comprehensive. It is worth checking out Pete Walker's book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. That book gives a very thorough look into CPTSD.
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