Anger and nice guys don’t mix very well. Because nice guys are known to stuff their emotions, and anger is an emotion, the cycle of avoidance never gets broken. Nice guys get angry because their needs aren’t being met, and most times, nice guys don’t even know what they need. They’re swimming in the dark, yet live in a world that they need to interact with. Because life is a series of interactions and interplay between needs and need gratification, lack of awareness about what those needs are leads to a lack of gratifying them.
So what do I mean by “needs”? I think we can all agree on the general definition of what needs are, because we have many different layers of them. We have a need to eat, to sleep, to excrete, and to have sex. Higher order needs are also needs, and include needs for love, validation, understanding, compassion, and avoidance of pain. As people, we also have a need for pleasure. The list can be quite infinite, and will vary drastically between different people.
Whereas I have a need to be validated for my efforts as a relationship partner or as a business owner, the next guy may have very different needs. He may need power, and may seek that out through a variety of different channels. The basic motivation to get those needs met will be so different for each person, so it’s really hard to set one standard of needs for everyone. This is where it gets tough, because many mail clients that I work with who don’t know how to recognize their own needs, end up comparing and contrasting themselves and their needs to their friends, family, and culture in general. Although our culture and society has some generally universal needs, they vary by degrees.
How does anger factor into all of this, you ask? I think that when men’s needs to go unmet and unattended to, they do not goaway. Instead, they lie dormant and mutate into other types of feelings. Anger is a byproduct of not getting those needs met. Although there are other emotions underlying anger — like sadness, emptiness, helplessness or loss of control — those are emotions that are even more obscured with most men today.
If you can picture the cross-section of an Everlasting Gobstopper, you’ll see that it would be comprised of layer upon layer of coatings. Imagine emotions are like a Gobstopper: they are many in number and layer similarly. At the core, we have emotions that consists of sadness, emptiness, pain, loss of control, and other very basic emotions. Go out one more layer and we find the more “empowering” emotions, like anger. Anger empowers us to act, and yet is an outer layer that obscures the more basic emotions. For many guys — especially nice guys — continue to go out to one more layer and you’ll find a layer of fear.
Fear of anger is a whole different matter. Many guys are just simply too afraid of their own anger or rage, so they end up stuffing it and coating it with a layer of fear. The fear layer then translates into behaviors that communicate that fear when there are situations or people that trigger the anger. Instead of getting angry, a lot of guys are so disconnected from their own anger and go to the fear place immediately. They shut their whole emotional system down, and continue to compress their emotions and avoid them. This is a disastrous cycle, because these men are muzzling themselves every time they are provoked. I’m not suggesting that they fly into a fit of rage and put her fist through the wall. What I am suggesting is that getting in touch with that basic experience of anger is an important first step to recognizing that it even exists.
The whole thing for nice guys: they’re not going to express their anger because it will lead to devastating to actually express the anger to the recipient. Instead, nice guys will swallow their anger, where it ends up mutating into much worse problems for the host nice guy.
So what happens to the anger when a nice guy stuffs it? A lot of things. Because the anger is not being communicated directly to the people that need here at, it ferments within a nice guy. But anger needs to come out in some way, and it often comes out through the forms of sarcasm, criticism, self-criticism, superiority, judgmentality, and on the other end of spectrum, rage and acting out physically.
A lot of nice guys are also smart guys. Smart guys being who they are often reside in their heads most of the time. The very skills and abilities that smart guys have used to create success in their lives, such as in their professional lives, are the worst skills to deal with anger. Smart guys also have the unique ability to intellectualize their anger, and this is another form of fermenting that anger loves. When I talk to guys who come in because they can’t deal with their anger, we always end up talking about how they try to “think their way out of their anger”, but it never works. I was asked them “so how is it worked for you up until this point?” These guys usually say, “well, not to good. on here and counseling now aren’t I?”
This tendency to intellectualize our anger is a real problem. We become hamsters in our own mental wheels, spinning ourselves into a mental oblivion. We also try to apply those same election will skills to solving our marriage and relationship problems, and those skills and tools are about not very successful to fixing those problems.
When nice guys get mad after having said “yes”, they tend to stuff that voice within them that really doesn’t want to say “yes”. By not saying ‘no’, these guys swallow what they really want because they’re too afraid that and they’ll be rejected by saying ‘no’. And this phenomenon plays out in all sorts of areas of the guy’s life: work, friendships, intimate relationships, within family relationships and on and on.
Stuffing anger is a real problem, because anger slowly builds up over time when it gets stuffed. Each incident of stuffing one’s anger and not saying no creates a compounding effect, where people to comes more difficult to say no and anger festers even
more. Others may even notice that we where anger on our faces or in our behavior, and not know why. We may not even know why we’re angry, and not connect the dots to know that by not saying no to others when we don’t mean it, creates this cause-and-effect relationship.
For a lot of men who can’t say no, they have to release their anger in some way. This often comes out in a variety of ways, that we’ll identify here:
- drinking alcohol to cover up anger
- acting more feeling superior to others
- being overly critical or judgmental of others, or oneself
- feeling stressed all the time, and not knowing why
- feeling stressed all the time, and knowing why, but not doing anything about it
- feeling like the “weight of the world” is on them
- feeling like they’re working too hard
- concerned that others don’t appreciate what they’re doing
- working too hard in general
- feeling constantly angry, or even rageful
- getting physically angry, and doing things like putting your fist through the doors or walls
- not taking care of themselves, or not knowing how to