I was just listening to The New Man Podcast interview with Robert Glover talking about Nice Guy Syndrome, where Dr Glover points out that the underlying cause of the nice guy's dysfunctional behaviour is anxiety. Anyone familiar with Buddhist philosophy will be aware that attachment causes suffering, but Robert points out that attachment also causes anxiety.
We can't avoid anxiety altogether, so we need to learn how to soothe it within ourselves. The solution is to identify what particular attachment is causing anxiety when we feel it, and consciously let the attachment go each time in occurs. Whenever we feel anxious ask the question:
What am I attached to right now?
Then take a deep breath, and think "I'm letting go of being attached to X".
For me, examples are:
- I'm attached to being well, when I'm feeling ill.
- I'm attached to her liking me, when I'm talking to a pretty woman.
- I'm attached to being successful, when I'm working on my business.
- I'm attached to getting good comments, when I'm writing a new blog post.
- I'm attached to this being a best-seller, when I'm working on writing a book.
- I'm attached to getting it right/perfect first time, when I'm trying something new.
- I'm attached to getting encouraging feedback, when I'm being creative.
- I'm attached to playing well, when I'm playing guitar for other people.
- I'm attached to being liked, in social situations.
All these things cause me anxiety and undermine my confidence when they occur. Releasing the attachment that causes the anxiety is an ongoing process that takes time. Do it one step at a time, be kind to yourself, let go of the attachment to even doing this right, and you will get there. As they said in that crappy shampoo advertisement a few years back, "It won't happen over night, but it will happen".