I Did All the Right Things… So Why is Life Screwing Me?

by Alexander Heyne · 34 comments

nice-guy-emotions

“I did all the right things… so why did I get screwed by life?”

This story is something very commonly heard these days. People playing by the rules and not being taken care of.

What’s interesting about this, to me, is that this is something very similar to what nice guys say when they get rejected by woman after woman after woman.

So I call this “nice guy syndrome.”

————————————————–

I am a former nice guy. I was a nice guy for a long time. Until I was about 22 actually.

Through college, I was the guy who was always told by women “you’re the guy I’d marry, but not date.” In other words, I wasn’t fun, spontaneous, mysterious, and didn’t have cool stories. They were just being nice.

I wasn’t a machisto with cool ambition, man skills, and a grand plan for life. Consequently, I never once got the girl I wanted.  Story of a nice guy’s life.

Since that time, all of those things have changed almost 180.  And that was deliberate.

You see, I realized that nice guys have a set of highly undesirable personality traits (even as husbands). And these nice guy traits are the same ones that people who get screwed by life have.

The traits of “nice guys” (Aka guys who get screwed by women, and get screwed by life)

A couple things about nice guys:

  • They’re polite, afraid of stepping on toes, try not to be too controversial, too nice, not opinionated
  • They’re safe and secure, more on the conservative side
  • They have no backbone, no fight in them, no confidence
  • They’re smiles 24/7. Even if pissed, sad, upset, or anxious.
  • They are very conventional and ordinary
  • They love predictability, stability

People that get screwed over by life:

  • Polite, afraid to ask for anything, challenge authority, or do something never done before
  • Take the safe and secure route, play their cards “realistically,” get the predictable jobs, take the pre-set route
  • They don’t have any fight – they don’t fight for things they love, they don’t fight for a better life, and just kinda settle in life without much kicking and screaming
  • Very ordinary lives. No real dream or ambition, very typical relationships, 9-5 the same, 5-9 usually the same
  • Terrified of change and don’t make moves, even when they are miserable

See the parallels here?

It’s kinda interesting actually.

The nice guy personality is (in my opinion) deadly if you want to truly live a fulfilled life. So let me tell you the remedy.

No More Mr. Nice Guy…

One of the first things I did when I wanted to stop being a nice guy was this: I stopped giving a fuck about trying to please everyone – whether or not you agreed with my plan was tough shit.

I knew the path I wanted to take… and I started taking it. I wasn’t smiles 24/7 despite my emotions anymore.

When I was in college and I told people I was going to quit a job at some point and move to china to study Kung fu.

Some people were like “that’s sick” some were like “you’re a nerd” some were like “what about your job?”

Instead of being like “yeah , you’re right” I was like “fuck it man, you’re gonna work for 40 years? Or just get out of college and get married? That’s fine. But not the path I want to take.”

I became super confident and opinionated about my own stuff – And an interesting thing happened – instead of people criticizing me, they admired me.

There’s that whole dating psychology behind scarcity.  Ff you act like you don’t need the other person, that scarcity makes them want you more.

Nice guy rule #1: Stop trying to please everyone. Stop taking the plan and route others want for you. Start doing what you want, and start stepping on toes. For the love of god, please have an opinion.

Rule #2 Live a better story by actually having a fire for something

Learn to live a better story.

It doesn’t have to be some incredible James bond story, but it does have to be uniquely you.

See, at first I honestly believed that when I got married I would be an awesome spouse. But then I realized – who in the hell wants to be with someone boring? NO ONE.

It was around this time that I started getting into traveling a lot more too – and in just a few short years I visited 20 or 30 countries, collecting stories, life experience, and a different sort of mindset toward life.

I started to have all these cool things to talk about, ways to relate to new people, that I never had before. The problem was that they were without a context. Events without a story are meaningless.

So I figured out my story: I wanted to travel the world, study the various types of medicine around the world, and then bring them back to America and fuse them into an integrative clinic.  Cool, new story that was uniquely me. Suddenly I was living my own plan.

Rule #2:  Learn to live a better story – one that is uniquely you.

#3 Grow some BIG ass cojones

There is no doubt that being able to tolerate risk is one of life’s more important skills, followed by resilience.

Nice guys are terrified of manning up, even when they should.

Shortchanged 5 bucks at the pharmacy? “Oh… it’s okay…. I’ll just….”

At a conference, and you’re afraid of looking like an idiot or like you talk too much? “I’m just going to listen the whole night, see what people have to say, maybe hide in the corner and eat the fruit from the table.”

Talking about nice guys approaching or asking out women is a whole different story.

I just wanted to shake my former self and be like “For fuck’s sake man isn’t there anything that you CARE about in this world? Where’s your fire? Where’s that backbone, that fight in you?”

Nice guys are TERRIFIED of making the wrong move.  So they don’t make ANY moves.

I swear to god I lost count of all the great opportunities I missed in my life when I used to be nice.

Women, jobs, positions, travels. All because I was too afraid to speak up or just approach someone.

Learn to make moves regularly. Learn to make uncomfortable moves. If you’re scared shitless by a sexy girl in a tight dress, approach as many as possible and try conversing. Hint: the nerves never go away, that’s why it takes balls.

Rule #3: Take regular RISKS and make regular moves. You take more risks by growing a pair. Stop being terrified of making the wrong move – just make moves.

Risk = doing something with the potential for loss. Loss of money, time, face, etc.

You’re getting screwed because you’re playing life safe

As a no-longer nice guy (thank god), I can say that nice guys are generally, um, too nice in regard to the world.

They don’t want to cause anyone problems. They want to live a peaceful, stress-free life. They don’t want to make anyone else’s life tough.

If you’re the kind of person that life keeps screwing.. remember these three things. Stop trying to make everyone else happy – do what you want. Find something that actually puts a fire under your ass, and use that to start living a better story. Grow some big ass cojones and start taking risks.

The irony is that you think playing it safe ensures low risk and lots more security.

In reality, when you’re a nice guy in relationships, at work, or in life, you’re a lot more replaceable than you think.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

J K April 26, 2013 at 10:16 am

Dude, another great post. Discovered your blog a week ago or so. It’s truly amazing how I can resonate with your words and notions. Keep up the great work. I’m currently really trying hard to improve my story. Getting myself burning again for my vision, my life, my story. Your words help a lot.
Btw, was wondering if you have a German background (from your name).

Thanks,
Jan

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Alexander Heyne April 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thanks Jan !

Sweet, let me know if I can help at all with you figuring out how to live a better story.

Re: german, my family is mixed European so there is german, french, scottish and other good stuff in there. Somehow the last name came out german :p

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Tony Khuon @AgileLifestyle April 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Alex, Rule #2 is huge. Most “nice guys” who can’t hold a decent conversation with a woman are really “uninteresting guys” in disguise. Living a better story leads to having a viewpoint that’s actually interesting to the opposite sex.

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Alexander Heyne April 27, 2013 at 11:13 am

Hey Tony,

I agree, #2 is HUGE. That was one of my biggest revelations I think, from when I was a kid, compared to who I am today. “Uninteresting guys in disguise” totally agree.

To me, that’s one of the best justifications just for traveling, trying new things, and living a better story. There’s more to talk about with people. That’s also one reason why I prefer having multiple hobbies and being a jack of all trades rather than a specialist – just having more varied life experience is fun.

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Orlando Ken April 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

Great stuff, Alexander. It took me 20 years to figure this out. Don’t wait and get started living.

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Alexander Heyne April 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Thanks Ken ! Amen brotha!

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Mikey May 3, 2013 at 6:12 am

Hey, Alex!

Just discovered your blog yesterday and have been reading a bunch of your articles. I find myself in most of them. I am trying to change my life.. starting with my job. And I have gone to a bunch of interviews, sometimes I would get really close to getting it, but in the end they always chose someone else. I thought that was me trying hard. But now, after reading some stuff here, I am starting to think that that was me trying half-assed.

I’ll continue to read what you have to say, since my dream is to leave my home and move elsewhere, so I’ll look for your blogs for inspiration.

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Alexander Heyne May 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hey Mikey —

What’s your biggest obstacle to leaving home and moving elsewhere?

– Alex

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Mike May 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I think this is right, but there’s also a fine line between this and douchebaggery, though I freely admit that I’ve met a lot of seemingly successful people who seem to have happily leaped over that line and not looked back.

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Alexander Heyne May 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hey Mike –

You’re right, there definitely is a fine line between this and just flat out being an asshole. I think some people go over to the dark side a little bit too much and don’t realize it (I guess as a way to overcompensate).

Unfortunately I’ve made a similar observation – there are plenty of successful folks who are real douchebags that I don’t admire at all. In fact, I might even go as far as to say the majority… although that number seems to be lower in entrepreneurs that I’ve met. They seem to be more down to earth and a bit more human and humble.

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Liz May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Good post, but I wonder about you calling the failing guy the nice guy? I’m don’t agree that walking around nervous of upsetting anyone or of breaking the rules it nice to yourself or anyone else. In fact, doing what other people want you to do without questioning it can be one of the worst choices you can make, for both you and them.

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Alexander Heyne May 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hey Liz –

I don’t think necessarily the failing guys are often nice guys, but as an observation, nice guys are often failing guys haha. Did that make any sense? Again this is just my own experience and observation.

— Alex

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Sarah Li Cain May 6, 2013 at 5:01 am

I think if you just sit back and don’t let your opinons known or create your awesome story, it just means that you don’t value yourself enough. Once you think that you are worth it, I think all of what you wrote will come into play.

Another great post :)

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Kieu Manh Quan May 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I recently found your website and loved most of your article so far. Still, I can’t help but feel kinda helpless as most of the things you mentioned, I have come to realize about it for sometimes, but even with knowing these, I still find myself lack something to change myself.

I’m loner by nature, and I spent most of my time thinking about these and read articles with intention of discovering myself as I thought I can come closer to my life long answer by solely uncover my inner most personality, rather than be forced to adapt to life, which I’m not longed for.

I might still be lost, but some of your articles kinda enlighten me, though I’m not sure if these motivation are closer to your mentioned “drug effect”. Gotta say I’m really looking forward your next article.

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Alexander Heyne May 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hey Kieu Manh Quan,

I’m a lot like you. Generally a loner by nature. Think way too much. Big into philosophy and the big questions about life.

And I think people like us usually fall into a trap – we go too deep into these questions, and become unable to function in the real world.

So let me pose a question: you have the knowledge, you have the awareness. But still you feel helpless. So what you need isn’t more knowledge – it’s probably more action.

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Joe May 26, 2013 at 8:23 am

My current predicament is a direct result from being afflicted with the ‘nice guy syndrome’ you mentioned here. I had a chance to do something fulfilling abroad but was too timid to make the first move. I was too concerned with making mistakes or projecting myself as a fool in front of others. As suggested by your blog here, I am conventional, plain and ordinary!

It has been 5 months since I have returned to my home country. In spite of securing a decent job, my heart lies elsewhere. I am completely stumped with regards to my future.

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Alexander Heyne May 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

Hey Joe,

So did you manage to go abroad? You said “it’s been 5 months since I returned to my home country.”

I’m just going to be another person telling you the obvious – but if your “heart lies elsewhere” what’s preventing you from going there?

If it’s still that fear you mentioned above, well, you already TOLD me know what you deep down need to do. Can you still take up that opportunity?

– Alex

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Joe May 27, 2013 at 11:32 am

Hey Alex,

I spent 4 years abroad and was gripped with the fear of uncertainty so much so that it held me back on doing certain things.

Yes, I suppose I could still look for similar opportunities and work my way towards the original plan! In fact, I don’t mind revealing my aspirations to you. I have always wanted to become a teacher but was advised against it by many of those around me. Though they harbour good intentions, I became confused over time and decided that finance should probably be ‘ideal’ route given the perceived prospects of growth, both career and monetary wise. Basically, I try my hardest to convince myself of the benefits of entering the financial sector.

However, my reading of your latest post evoked a few memories of teaching stints undertaken in the past. I remember recalling to friends and family on the minute details of interesting events pertaining to those sessions. Also, I experienced so much joy after teaching a class of young adults on their way to university. In contrast, I spoke of my current job mostly in a dissatisfied state and more often than not, concentrate on the negatives of the latter. It dawned on me that teaching is very well the profession I should go for.

Anyway, apologies for the long rant. I would have stayed abroad if not for financial reasons. I could have spent a year getting a teaching qualification instead of the current degree I hold. Then, I was more inclined to be practical rather than to be swayed by desire, to which I now regret very much.

Joe

Patrick June 25, 2013 at 1:12 am

Just our of curiosity, around the time you decided to stop being a “nice guy” did you buy a fedora and become overly concerned with the “men’s rights movement?”

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Alexander Heyne June 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

You must have the wrong guy Patrick ;)

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Phoenix August 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hi Alex

I’ve been following your posts for about a week now – and they’ve reassured me and encouraged me so much. Thank you! You’re a great mind and I think it’s amazing how you inspire people. Keep it up!
After going through a long, very dark period in my life, I decided that I need change, BIG change. I have let go most of my fears and am ready to finally live an extraordinary life – which I have always wanted to.
And I already took action too: I will fly to Australia all alone to travel solo for one and a half months. Something I would have never done pre crisis. I’ve cut the ties that were holding me back, no more security blankets for me! I feel free.
The next step after my return will be to look into moving to the United States, which has been a dream of mine since being a young lady. I live in Europe, but have the Canadian citizenship and still have to figure out if that will help with immigration. The only thing I don’t know yet is, what my dream job would be. That worries me. Any advice?
I was also wondering what your personal story is – what made you want to leave “regular” life/routine? How did you figure out your true passion?
I live in Europe by the way.

Phoenix

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Alexander Heyne August 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Hi Phoenix,

Finding your “dream job” really just comes down to experimentation. Experiment with as many different things as possible. I wrote a brief intro guide here: http://milkthepigeon.com/2012/09/11/5-most-useful-tools-for-finding-your-work-in-life/

Re: my story. I wrote about it a bit here: http://milkthepigeon.com/about/

Cheers

Alex

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Phoenix August 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Sorry mentioned living in Europe twice ;-)

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Phoenix August 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm

No comment on my story, except for the links? :-( Thanks for those by the way!
I’m really proud I’m finally going for it – “attacking” life!! :-)

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Nneka September 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

This is such awesome advice. I’ve been the “nice girl” for as long as I could remember. To be fair, I *am* a nice person (I can’t help it, sometimes), and I conducted myself in that manner. But in the end, my niceness got me nowhere.

So within the past year, I began to make some changes. I went from following every single rule to making up my own rules. I scratched quite a few things off my bucket list, and I’m doing stuff that I never would have dreamed of. It’s amazing just what you’re capable of.

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Alexander Heyne September 11, 2013 at 9:55 am

That’s awesome Nneka! I agree, it’s not really a matter of not being nice.. it’s just a matter of standing up for yourself and doing the things you want.

– Alex

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Nice Girl September 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Great insight for us gals as well. Thanks.

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Alexander Heyne September 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

No problem nice girl :)

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Matt Elias December 13, 2013 at 5:41 am

DUDE. You took the words right out of my mouth. I am also a former “nice guy”. Everyone was screwing me over, even my family. I tried so hard to please everyone that I fell into a suicidal depression. Fortunately I bounced back.

One thing I disagree with is the term “nice guy”. No, being a carpet does not equal being a nice guy. I’m still a nice guy, but I’m more assertive, and I don’t take sh*t from anyone anymore. I’m only nice to people who are nice to me…or serve a use to me hehe.

To me, assertiveness is a way to filter out all the a-holes so that you can focus on being nice to the people who deserve it. This is what “nice guys” like, in my humble opinion of course.

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Matt Elias December 13, 2013 at 5:44 am

By “like”, I mean “lack”, haha.

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Alexander Heyne December 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

Matt,

You are 100% right man. Being a nice guy does not mean being a carpet. I’m still a nice guy, but people don’t notice it from the start. I respect my time, I tease a lot, and I’m very assertive – the way I carry myself is qualitatively different. And people know it. It doesn’t mean I go around acting like a prick though.

I don’t think being assertive means being an asshole to people who “deserve” it. I just don’t let people waste my time. I’m decisive and know what I want… and I’m going for it with or without you sort of thing.

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Tammy January 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for pointing this out, Alex. That pic of emotions looks a lot like my reactions most days. Interesting list of traits and I can see a few connections with my life. Being too polite has its disadvantage like the pharmacy example of being owed 5 bucks. In other areas I do what I want so now I need to find that passion to transfer that energy to all areas.

Playing it safe means less life experience and less stories to share. I see this happening in some conversations. Persons say that I am diplomatic because I try not to offend anyone. Yet in other conversation I stand my ground. I think persons try not to make anyone else’s life tough like steeping on toes because it feels hurtful but then our lives becomes boring as a result. I really need to become more assertive.

Thanks for another great article.

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Alexander Heyne May 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

Hey Joe,

I totally hear you. It’s incredibly common to get talked out of doing what we enjoy purely for financial reasons. The same thing happened to me.

But let’s view it in reverse now.

Getting paid well, but dreading every car drive to work, contemplating driving off a bridge. I’ve been there. And many other people have too.

Which was more worth it? Would I rather take not worrying about finances but hating 50 hours of my life a week, or enjoy 50 hours of my life a week and find a way to make more income? I guess that’s a personal decision each person has to make. This is obviously a false dichotomy – in reality it’s never high income, terrible job versus low income, fantastic job. There are millions of incarnations, and of course, high incomes with fantastic jobs.

If it makes you feel better – you now have massive awareness of your situation which makes it a hell of a lot easier to change man.

So what’s next for you?

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