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The Dr. Glover School of “No More Mr. Nice Guy”



Are you a nice guy (or girl) tired of not getting treated right?

Are you tired of not getting what you want and what you deserve out of your life?

In this post, my buddy Tom Woodfin interviews expert author Dr. Robert Glover.  Hear more about this syndrome and real steps you can take to transform it and improve the quality of your life.

Check this out.

“Dr. Glover has helped thousands of Nice Guys transform from being passive, resentful victims to empowered, integrated males. Along with these personal changes have come similar transformations in these men’s professional careers and intimate relationships.”

Here are some things you’ll learn:

  • Why don’t people treat me right even though I’m nice?
  • The core of the nice guy (girl) syndrome
  • Sexual repression and the shame core addiction
  • 3 covert contracts leading to rage, frustration, and resentment
  • The vicious cycle of neediness, rejection, and isolation
  • Fill your bucket and nurture your social life
  • [Exercise] Cooperative Reciprocal Systems to attract a better life


Tom: Hello, everybody. Today I’m here with Dr. Robert Glover and it’s a real privilege staff with me today. This is a renowned author and psychotherapist. He is the author of two books. I think if I’ve got that right.

Dr. Robert Glover: Yeah.

Tom: I just discovered your second one today actually so there’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy” which I have on audible Kindle. It was so kind of direct in this message to me that I felt like I wanted to absorb it from multiple sensory mediums. I think it’s done a great job of that and plus his latest book which I just did discover today “The dating essentials for men”.

Here’s a line that I really loved from his site – “Dr. Glover has helped thousands of nice guys transform from being passive, resentful victims to empowered integrated males”. The passive resentful victim is something that I’ve saved flirted with in the past as an identity to put it lightly.

Thanks to doctor Glover’s work, he’s been helping me through that. Dr. Glover has worked with thousands of men, post online classes, does workshops, has podcasts, a lot of other resources are on his website He’s a frequent guest on radio talk shows, he’s been featured in numerous local and national publications.

I also attended one of his spin-off groups in London for a while I was living there. I was hosted by Rowan Andrews and this very good group you can check them out on a meet-up. And I think there are now lots of these groups all around the world they’re practicing the “No more Mr. Nice Guy” stuff.

They’re full of men that are wanting to join and help themselves become more integrated and useful to themselves and the wider society which is probably a good thing. Dr. Glover welcome, it’s a real privilege to be talking with you. So, thanks for joining us.

Perhaps you can start by telling us a little bit about your journey with being a nice guy in the transition from a sensitive new-age guy, which I could feel like potentially just for the tail end of now. I’ve been quite deep into that for a while and still working through those are archetypes into an integrated male.

I’m sure you’ve told the story thousands of times before but if you could just give us a little background about who you are and how you came into this work.

Dr. Robert Glover: All right, Tom. Thanks for the invitation to be here for that introduction and I’ll tell my story for the thousand and first time. I like talking about it because I tell people that I’m a recovering nice guy and my book “No more Mr. Nice Guy” is autobiographical. I just use other people’s stories to tell my own. How I came about to be the author of “No more Mr. Nice Guy” and I’ll be talking to you today.

If you had met me 30 years ago, I would have said I’m a nice guy. I would have told you that I’m one of the nicest guys you’ll ever want to meet. And what I didn’t understand is why like everybody else wasn’t the same.

Now part of this I know was me being a reaction to my father trying to be different from him, being self-centered and moody and angry and controlling and also trying to be different than the type of man I heard a lot of women complaining about when I was a teenager and young man in the 60s and 70s with kind of the big wave of feminism and the negativity towards men in general. I don’t want to be that guy, I’ll be a good guy, I’ll treat people well, I won’t be a jerk.

Why don’t people treat me right even though I’m nice?

But how this process came about is I was in my second marriage and I thought I was treating my wife well, trying to be a good guy trying to treat her better than her ex, raising her kids and she was never happy and she was actually kind of upset most of the time and she never want to have sex anymore, it was critical of me.

And all I wanted was her to appreciate me and buy you the things I did for her and then she started kind of focusing on me and she said you’re passive-aggressive, you’re angry. I’d rather be with a jerk. They at least know what jerks going to treat me bad all the time. You treat me well everybody thinks you’re a great guy and then out of the blue you do things that are really hurtful. You need to go get help.

I thought I need to go get help? You’re the one that’s unhappy and angry all the time Why am I the one who’s in trouble here? I’m the good guy.

I went joined a men’s group and started going to see a therapist and luckily, I bumped into some really good stuff and things like setting boundaries and asking for what I wanted and being clear and direct and being honest and authentic. And I began to realize well okay maybe I wasn’t so easy to live with. And as I was doing kind of my own work I was a marriage and family therapist at the time and I started noticing that couples were coming to work with me and often the men were saying the same thing I had been saying in my relationship and they’re coming in with her girlfriends or their wives.

The guys are saying I’m a nice guy, I’m one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I do everything for her, I try to please her, I try to make her happy, I treat her better than her ex, I’m raising her kids and she’s never happy, she’s always angry and she never wants to have sex anymore. And I thought I can finish these guys sentences and it was really a revelation to me that I wasn’t the only person thinking if I was just nice and treated in this case a woman well, she’d be appreciative of me and love me back.

Now I also started noticing a few single men the guys that were not in relationship saying what’s my problem? How come I treat people I treat women well I’m not like the jerks I listen to talk about their problems, I’m not pushing a sexual agenda and guys were saying women tell me oh someday you’re going to make some lucky woman really happy.

And I go why don’t you? Why doesn’t this woman who’s telling me that want to be with me? She thinks some other woman would be lucky to have me why won’t you? I started to hear these voices and realize I’m not the only person who thinks this way. And so, I started “No more Mr. Nice Guy” men’s group probably about 25 years ago.

We met every other Wednesday and on Wednesdays I started just writing chapters to give to these guys. Nowadays would probably call them blogs but I started writing what was I learning, what was I understanding, what were my thoughts and theories about how we became nice guys, what was essential for us to work on to become more authentic, more integrated, more happy to get what we want and well I kept doing these groups and then added another group and kept writing.

These guys and often their partners were saying Robert you need to write a book, you need to go on Oprah. There’s lots of people out there that need this information. So, I did, I kept writing for over here about six years. It took to write the book took. It took about another three years to get it published. It came out in print edition in early 2003 so as we talked that’s been about 16 years ago. The book is doing amazingly well. My royalty checks get bigger every year so there’s a lot of people responding to it and I do a lot of interviews now and people often say my book helped change their life or my books is one of the top books they recommend to their coaching clients.

I think it really helps fill a void that was out there for good information for men. When I started doing my work all that was really out there was maybe like Iron John by Robert Bly and so you could go out in the woods would beat a drum and you don’t say ho. But that was really all there was for men there wasn’t a lot more going on at that time.

So, I’m just thrilled that now there’s so many resources for men whether it be groups, whether it be working around dating the social anxiety, relationship, entrepreneurs. So, that’s me, that’s my story, that’s how “No more Mr. Nice Guy” came into the world.

Tom: Yeah, thanks for sharing. I think what you were talking about with your book the first time I read it, I cycled through a couple of times but the first time I read it I was looking at the bullet points. It was like nice guys are like this, nice guys are like this. And I was like oh, my God, I guess this is a common we actually out with people. I think he’s talking about me directly like how did he know me so well?

Dr. Robert Glover: Let me read you an email I got just before we got online, it’s really short. I said a co-worker at my job recommended your book. I thought the title was cheesy and silly, it wasn’t going to read it. After a few weeks I finally read the book in one sitting and could not stop reading once I started. It’s like you wrote the book and know my life story without knowing me.

It’s oddly comforting to know many others in your book go through the same stuff and they can be improved with work and mindset shift. Like I said I just I just read that email just before we got online with each other. And yeah, I’ve been hearing that for like 16 years now.

How did you know me so well? I’m writing my life story. There’s a lot of us out there thinking we are nice to everybody and treat them well we’ll be loved and liked and get our needs met and everybody will think we’re great.

Tom: Well, it seems like the nice guys are like a modern-day archetype like an optical roller the people just kind of fall into. So, it’s really great he’s been able to identify that. Would you say kind you think it translates the people pleasers in general? Like across the sexes or is it specifically for men?

Because I’ve had women come to me and say the things that he’s writing about also seem to apply to me. And so, I’m wondering if there’s a kind of a relationship with the people pleasers archetype as well.

The core of the nice guy (girl) syndrome

Dr. Robert Glover: Very definitely. And lots of women have written me say they appreciated my book both in terms of understanding a man in their life but also that they are nice girls. And I actually think probably the nice girl syndrome preceded the nice guy syndrome. My mother was a nice girl. She tried to serve other people, be nice, get validation and I was trained to be a nice guy by my mother.

Now really, we’re talking about and I don’t use this word in the book and it was intentional we’re talking about codependency. We were talking about a shared sense of self. I only give value in terms of how other people perceive me or relate to me. That’s what codependency is. I didn’t use the word in the book for a couple of reasons.

One is that most people associated it with relationships with recovering alcoholics and also there were a number of books written for women on codependency but there was actually nothing written for men. And so, I left the word out of the book intentionally because I didn’t want people to come to it and then project their own meaning of what codependency means. I want to just talk about what nice guys are about.

It really does boil down to I think the same thing for nice girls and nice guys is at our core sense of self we don’t believe we are okay just as we are. In my theory is as the result of what I call inaccurately internalized events.

So, in childhood all children are narcissistic by nature. We believe we are the cause of everything that happens to us.

Tom: I guess these stages are psychological development.

Dr. Robert Glover: It is, it is and it’s normal and this is pre verbal also. It is before a child can even formulate words and talk and remember in terms of words or pictures. But it’s a very emotional piece and that’s why it gets embedded in a very deep part of our brain.

It is internalizing so if we have a negative experience of any kind as an infant as a child, we’re hungry and nobody feeds as we cry nobody picks us up, people around us are angry, we get abandoned. Whatever it might be. We expect when you scream that we get shaken. Whatever it might be the child always internalizes I’m the cause of that and the word that that is used to describe that process it’s called toxic shame.

You internalize a belief “There must be something wrong with me. I’m bad, I’m unlovable and not just that I’ve done something wrong, there’s something fundamentally wrong with me”.

So, if that is a child’s core emotional belief, it’s not a thought-out belief system typically but it’s an emotional belief that then begins to affect the way the child thinks and acts and behaves and interacts in the world and tries to get their needs met. And then what happens then for the nice guy or nice girl is typically they consciously try to become what they think other people want them to be so that they will be liked and loved and get their needs met and try to hide anything about themselves repress it, push it down, get rid of it anything that might get a negative response from the people around them.

And for nice guys that’s at least the things they tend to hide their most or their needs number one and their sexuality because they feel like they’re going to be bad if anyway perceives them to be sexual. So, they push all of that down all the while trying to be that pleaser that conflict avoider that giver that fixer to get love and validation.

Tom: Dropping bombs of wisdom. I think the nice guys have a very complicated relationship with nice guys, nice girls have very complicated relationship with sexuality and I think you touched on this in your book, I saw you mention it. And you mentioned that they have typically experience some kind of confusion I think with their sexuality. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Sexual repression and the shame core addiction

Dr. Robert Glover: Yeah, yeah, I think I did touch on it. I think I basically said every nice guy I’ve ever met has some major issue around their sexuality. This can take a lot of different forms and for a lot of nice guys it’s kind of like they haven’t even identified it because maybe precede what they’re experiencing is what they perceive as normal.

In the men especially the big pattern I see with so many nice guys are a dependency on pornography, any kind of hidden sexual behavior. And I see a lot of nice guys have issues around sexual performance, sense of inadequacy, a lot of guys struggle with any kind of sexual performance issue and I try to tell men that I don’t like to use the word sex and performance in the same sentence because sex is not a performance.

But when you don’t get an erection or if you come too quickly those become things that just feed the sense of shame and inadequacy a lot of us guys have. A lot of nice guys our pleasers when it comes to sex and so they’re trying to please their partner to get validation.

But unfortunately, there’s like a lot of things nice guys do the very things we do work against us.

So, for example, if a guy is trying to please his partner what he’ll usually do is okay last time we had sex I did this and I did that and she seemed to like it and she seemed to get off on it so I’ll do that again, I’ll do that and it becomes a formula and it becomes boring really quickly and then the woman loses interest in having sex and the guy thinks what’s wrong with me.

He internalizes “What’s wrong with me?” versus “Oh, maybe by me doing the same thing repetitively over and over again that might have been our problem”.

The main chord that I really do see though with the majority of nice guys especially in this era is just a hiding of so much of their sexuality because sexual energy is such a powerful life force. It is wired into a line it’s such a strong dynamic that you can’t hide it, you can’t repress it so it tends to go underground in some shame-based type behavior. I mentioned the pornography, the masturbation, massage parlours, prostitution or just trying to repress it completely.

And not only does this steal a person’s life force from them and kind of make them like sexually uninteresting because there’s nothing out there but it’s all hidden underground, it does go underground and what that tends to do is it just feeds on the nice guys sense of shame that he already has. Because if you think about it one of the most effective ways for a guy in modern culture to feel bad about himself is be addicted to porn.

Then he’s spending hours looking at porn, he knows he’s wasting time probably wasting a bunch of money as well, he’s in relationship he’s lying to his partner saying no I don’t or I’ll never do it again or blah blah then he goes and does it again. It’s a great way to just feel bad about themselves and what I found is that for a lot of guys especially around porn maybe he’s identified as a sexual addiction.

I think a lot of these guys are not actually addicted to sex, most of them aren’t having enough sex to be addicted to sex but they’re addicted to the shame.

And it’s the shame that feeds the intensity. Shame feeds a lot of intensity. If you get addicted to that intensity that’s why you keep going back to the behaviors that are self-destructive and not productive because they’re in, I’ll call it a shame container.

You go hide away kind of like your little kid going up in your tree fort pulling the rope ladder up behind you and looking at daddy’s girlie magazine and nobody can bother you but you know you’re doing something wrong, you’re hiding out and there’s something that feels kind of good and buzzy about that.

Tom: Its rebellion the system or something.

B: Yeah but at the same time you’re like hiding and feeding shame into normal healthy human impulses and experiences.

Tom: That’s a really interesting point. It’s what you’re saying is like its kind of feeds this shame call to behavior but I never heard it described as an addiction to the shame. Like an addiction so this core identity of shame. I think that’s really fascinating way to put it.

3 covert contracts leading to rage, frustration, and resentment

I wanted to then lead into this. This idea of they are nice guys or nice girls that might be sexually frustrated in some way, do you think that has a relationship with something you mentioned in the book is like nice guys are full of rage but they’re very out of touch with it? And you think there’s a relationship between that kind of sexual frustration and rage or repressed sexuality and some kind of rage or anger?

Dr. Robert Glover: Often. Let me kind of come at it from probably what’s behind both the frustration and the rage and we’ll tee this up that applies to a lot of other things with nice guys. It’s around something that I call covert contracts. And a covert contract is just that, it’s a contract that is covert. It’s not often not conscious but rarely spoken and kind of up front for everybody to know what are the details of the contract.

And nice guys tend to have three covert contracts and all the covert contracts are an if-then proposition. They’re all form of giving to get so they’re all manipulative in nature. Even though the nice guy thinks I’m being a nice guy he’s actually being fundamentally manipulative and secretive. But covert contract number one is if I’m a good guy I’ll be liked and loved. Now nice guys tend to add to that and the women I want to have sex with will one have sex with me because I’m a good guy, I’m not a jerk, I’m not an asshole.

And so that’s part of this contract well, I’m not like those bad men you women complain about I’m a good guy, I listen to you talk, I help you do things I’m patient blah, blah, blah. And because I’m this good guy you should like me love me and want to have sex with me. As if that was enough to turn women on and make them want to jump our bones. We’ll come back to the frustration in a minute.

Covert contract number two is that if I meet everyone else’s needs without them having to ask then they will meet my meets without me having to ask. Nice guys this is where they’re giving to get really shows up. Well, I’ll do these things for you and I’ll do this and I’ll anticipate what you might need and I’ll do it for you or I’ll fix it or I’ll give you this nice surprise and in return you’ll appreciate me which is a big nice guy need and you’ll do things back for me without me having to ask.

You’ll just anticipate for me like I anticipate for you. Well, unfortunately the other people or the world or God doesn’t know what our covert contract is like we’re giving to them and they’re posed to get back and so often people have no clue that number one they were supposed to be giving back or what it is they’re supposed to give back.

So, nice guys then often don’t get their needs met and their buckets don’t get filled now I’ll add a caveat to that nice guys are often terrible receivers as well. It makes us feel guilty if somebody grips to us like we’re doing something wrong if we have needs or we’re going to get in trouble and nice guys tend to surround themselves with people that are really shitty at giving.

They’re usually like broken or burdened or depressed or unemployed or can’t hold a job and those guys are really attracted to those kinds of people and these people can’t take care of themselves they got nothing else to give to the nice guy. There’s covert contract number two.

Covert contract number three is if I do everything right then I will have a smooth problem-free life. Well number one, nobody can do everything right and number two where’s the rule book that says how to do everything right?

The nice guy is the one keeping score he’s got the big scoreboard up and as bedroom well I did this right, I did this right, I did this right. Then they have this magical childlike belief I can have this totally smooth problem free life.

Nobody’ll ever gets mad at me, nobody would relieve me, I’ll never get fired from a job, I’ll never have financial problems. Everything should be utopian; everything should work the way. Here’s the issue. The nice guy believes he’s doing everything required of him on his side of the covert contracts. I’m being a good guy, I’m giving, I’m doing everything right, I’m following the rule. But when the world doesn’t  read his mind and cooperate and when everybody doesn’t like him and love him or want to have sex with them or when people don’t read his mind and meet his needs or when the world isn’t smooth and problem-free which it isn’t, he starts feeling really frustrated and that frustration often leads to resentment and the resentment can turn into rage.

If you read anything on the internet or any social media you’ve probably seen the examples of men having this frustration and rage and resentment at women that it goes beyond even just ranting about it on online forums and it’s even can’t return homicidal. A lot of that really does go back to the nice guy thinking if I just do all of this then women should want to have sex with me.

And what happens for a lot of the guys I work with having a girlfriend and having a woman want to have sex with them is a core piece of their validation, a core piece of their senses.

I do work with a lot of nice guys because that have this frustration and have this core belief system because a lot of things nice guys do don’t attract women. We think they should but they don’t and then we get pissed off with women because they don’t seem interested at us so then we have this rage and resentment which really doesn’t attract women.

But then because we can’t get a girlfriend or can’t get laid now, we start thinking going back to the toxic shame. This must be because I’m unlovable. Yeah, I can blame the women for all being high Pergamos gold diggers or only being interested in this guy or that guy not that. But the bottom line is there’s that core shame that what’s wrong with me and because we don’t like feet on that core shame, we typically have to blame somebody as their fault, it’s their fault, it’s their fault.

Tom: Outward projection.

The vicious cycle of neediness, rejection, and isolation

Dr. Robert Glover: Yes, an outward projection. It would just become a vicious cycle that repels people and pushes them away keeps you feeling more and isolated and then that just keeps repeating itself and you keep feeling like you’re more and more I’m not lovable, I’m not worthwhile, I’m not desirable. All because we’ve identified having a girlfriend or having a woman one has sex with us is the barometer or the measure or the yardstick of me being a lovable human being.

Now they have absolutely nothing to do with each other but when you’re feeling a lot of frustration and toxic shame it feels like it has everything to do with each other.

Tom: Yeah, I think one of the expressions that you used in the book for it was this expression I remember reading at a time thinking like oh, God, this is what I’m doing. It was something like these covert contracts are the equivalent hooking up a hose to your partner’s energy levels or raining their energy levels and it was just like I had to kind of come back and read that second time so I didn’t want to look at it the first time. Like it’s such a displeasing thing to think that you might be the nice guy.

Dr. Robert Glover: That goes well with the sexual part. It was like for example, say a guy just meets a woman, say single and just meets a woman. If he’s feeling needy and empty, he will hook up that emotional hose of trying to get the woman to approve of him, validation of my phone number goes out with them and women feel that. They do.

They feel that neediness and they push it away and then again, the guy thinks well it must because all women can see that I’m an unlovable loser. But in relationship because I used to do this as well, I would approach my wife for sex but it had really nothing to do with physical or emotional or intimate connection. It had to do with a moral neediness.

I’d be really needy, I’d be really interacting, I kind of rub her back or makes him like indirect any windows about maybe we might have sex later and then like she would just shut down and push me back. Then what I interpreted was it she was rejecting me for sex because what I have done is it, I had wrapped a sexual request basically around my emotional neediness.

For people who are listening you can’t see it, it’s got like I got my fist and that’s emotional neediness. My other hand is like the sexual requests wrapped around it.

When a woman then can feel that emotional neediness that big hose with the sucking sound coming at her like yeah love me, love me filled me up, make me feel valuable and worthwhile and not a piece of shit, not a loser, please, please, do that for me they reject that neediness but if we’ve wrapped a sexual request around it we think we’re being rejected for sex. And then that often triggers a lot of rage and resentment in men it’s called well, I do all this for you and all I want is you to appreciate me and want to have sex with me.

And again, the woman is not so much rejecting the sex as she is the emotional neediness and you’re right. The good news is you read that thought damn, I do that. That’s the good news, that’s the good start. Then there’s a solution and that is we go work on our neediness by taking responsibility for getting our needs met and very healthy adult mature ways. Then as a byproduct of that we actually start looking much more attractive to other people.

Tom: The first time I read it I didn’t go down like I first time I read it is like no, no, there’s nothing to do with me. And then the second time I read it I was like you should probably pay attention to that because you didn’t like it the first time you read it and you felt that.

Dr. Robert Glover: Good for you. That’s a good thing to pay attention to. If you have resistance to something resistance is usually telling us a very important story.

Tom: Yeah, right. Well, definitely important in my case. One of the things that I noticed about what you’re saying there it sounds like there’s this kind of paradigm where nice guys or people pleasers go to other people to try to get there that bucket filled up if we use that kind of metaphor and try to hook up these hoses for validation.

If I do something here will you please validate me and fill me up from the inside? Seems like a really kind of an unhealthy dynamic.

Fill your bucket and nurture your social life

What it seems like is your work folks is a lot more on getting people to fill themselves up from the inside first. To fill their own bucket so they have enough to kind of give out an overflow. I think this really applies to social anxiety particularly. If you’re particularly socially anxious know you have some comments on this if you’re particularly socially anxious usually you’re feeling like you’re not quite good enough.

I noticed, I went through social anxiety like really severe social anxiety myself that when I was in interactions with people, I was so uptight about trying to say the right thing or the correct thing to get the correct response to validation to kind of fill me up. I felt so empty and worthless on the inside that you break out in all these kind of physical symptoms like sweating and shaking and it’s like oh, my God, this is the worst situation imaginable.

You’re just talking to a person and it’s like what the hell’s going on? But yeah it really sounds like your work is not focused on getting people to start filling themselves up from the inside. So, maybe you have some things to say about that.

Dr. Robert Glover: Yeah, that’s a good question. I’m going to share some things with you that I finished writing “No more Mr. Nice Guy” like I said about 20 years ago but I’ve continued to work on myself and work with thousands of nice guys since then. The piece I’m going to share with you is not detailed like this in the book. It’ll be more in the book I’m writing right now and in fact this it’s the chapter that I’m working on right now on the book I’m currently writing.

I think it does relate well to the whole social anxiety piece. Some of your listeners might be familiar with Mark Manson’s work and his new book “Summary of the subtle art of not giving a fuck” and “Everything is fucked”. But the first book he wrote was called “Models” and I got a lot of emails do you know Mark Manson?

I haven’t met him yet but the reason was is he mentions “No more Mr. Nice Guy” at the very end of his book “Models”. The success of his current books has probably helped sell books for me so I’m grateful for Mark for doing that.

But in the “Models” book is called I think the subtitle is attracting women with honesty. His core theme is basically don’t be needy. I’m giving the whole book so just don’t be needy, that’s how you attract women. And you’re right, if you’re going into any social context feeling needy. Now I know there’s other factors that tie it. We’re not going to do an entire book on how to cure your social anxiety but here’s one piece that I think plays in. That’s that emotional neediness. I tell people my definition of adulthood of a mature adult is a person who can take full responsibility for his needs and his actions.

You are a grown-up. When you were a kid your parents were responsible for meeting your needs. There’s a theory of child development and if your listeners want to go read a little bit more about it pick up Scott Pecks “The road less traveled”. He talks in there about if parents pay attention to the child’s needs and parents are first filling their own bucket up.

Paying attention to their children’s needs and meeting those needs in timely judicious ways and I add to that consistent. So, timely judicious and consistent ways. The child internalizes a belief unlovable, I’m valuable, my needs are important and the world is like my family.

And then they go out into the world assuming that the world’s going to respond to them like their family did. They’re just going to assume I’m gonna get my needs met and I’m important and I’m likeable.

If that is fills a child’s bucket and creates an emotional belief system that I’m valuable, I’m lovable, my needs are important and the world’s going to function in the same way as my family did. I think the same thing works for adults. Now it’s our job to do what either our parents didn’t do or what their job is finished.

[Exercise] Cooperative Reciprocal Systems to attract a better life

The term I use is that we as adults have to consciously create multiple cooperative reciprocal systems. Now by a cooperative reciprocal system when I often have people do like in workshops is, I’ll get a paper out, draw a stick figure of themselves in the middle of paper and maybe even draw a little bucket that we’re going to imagine them filling.

And then draw a whole bunch of circles outside of them on the paper with an arrow pointing towards the circle and towards them. All the arrows are going to have it like there’s going to be a line with two points on a point on each end. Pointing towards the arrow and pointing back at them. That’s the reciprocal part.

There’s something flowing both directions. And then I have the people doing this assignment fill those circles in with all of the cooperative reciprocal systems they have in their life. This might be friends, it might be church it might be professionals, it might be their accountant, their attorney, a personal trainer, their dentists, their doctor, their chiropractor massage therapists.

To map this out because the more of these reciprocal systems we have and what I mean by reciprocal system is that everybody involved is getting something of value out of that system

Tom: Win-win.

Dr. Robert Glover: Win-win. It is flowing both directions. That’s why I had the arrow point in both directions. You and I have a cooperative reciprocal system. You invited me to come talk on your podcast, you’re getting some value, your listeners whom you also have a reciprocal system with get value. I get some value out of it in that I like talking and the bigger value is maybe I’ll sell some books.

Now none of that is like we haven’t written up this contract it says blah, blah, blah, but we both assume it will be a valuable exchange and use of our time and energy. Now healthy response people consciously fill their life up with lots of these. And in my experience the more of these I add to my life the easier life gets and the better my life gets.

When I got an accountant that handled all my books when I got them a money manager to help teach me about how to invest and deal with money and save for retirement, when I got a doctor, when I got a dentist, when I got a massage therapist, when I got a chiropractor and when I got all these different systems, when I got a coach, when I joined a men’s group, when I started a writer’s accountability group within my men’s group my life kept getting better because everybody is getting something of value out of these. That’s where I start the homework is let’s identify what you have now.

Then I have them do a second page where we do a number of circles again with them in the middle and I say misidentify the co-operative reciprocal systems you want to add to your life. One time getting a new accountant was one thing on a circle. And it’s funny once you like put these on a circle all of a sudden new accountant show up or money managers, financial advisers show up.

Tom: You got solid requests like here’s why…

Dr. Robert Glover: You’re open to it, you’re available and maybe you look or maybe somebody gives you a recommendation but once you stated I need this in my system to helped me get my needs met and fill my bucket up it’s often quite easy to find things come your way. It’s been my experience.

Okay, so, that’s part two of the assignment. Identify where you need and maybe want to be adding over the next few weeks, few months, few years what other people professionals and organizations do you want to add to this bucket filling brigade that you have.

The third part of the assignment is that they now do another page and identify the systems they have that are not particularly cooperative or reciprocal at this time. These can be family members, they can be old friends, they can be organizations we’re a part of but we don’t go anymore or we don’t believe that anymore or we have a gym membership that we pay every month but we never go. Whatever. Healthy people are consistently looking at the systems they have and asking are they still cooperative or are they still reciprocal?

And maybe we have to go renegotiate that or maybe we realize okay, I’ve not been contributing my part. Maybe we start showing up. Maybe we have to ask the other person to start giving more doing it differently or maybe we just need to prune it back and move on. Probably we don’t still have relationships with every high school or college buddy we used to be close to.

At some point you prune those back, they just don’t serve anymore. It’s a constant process of looking at what we have, what we need and what we don’t need or what isn’t serving us now.

Can you imagine if you’ve consciously and you do this for a lifetime? I’m 63 and I’m still very much doing this process. If your bucket is being so filled because you have so many resources in your life of people and professionals and institutions, they’re all glad to help you get your needs met, have a good life, do whatever it is you need to get done.

Some of the people you pay, some of the people it’s just a friendship or it’s like you and I. We’ve agreed to help each other’s world be better in this way. If your life is filled with that can you imagine then going into public and interacting with other people? Your bucket is full. You’re not going in with a sheet of emptiness or fear or how can I get them to like me so that they’ll help fill my bucket up. There is none of that and people are attracted to that.

I’m going back to the Mark Manson piece there from his book is that probably the most attractive thing anybody can do man or woman is to be not needy. It is attractive to be filled and overflowing. He gives you a sense of confidence, a sense of security, a sense of well-being and people are attracted to those things. That’s my best piece of advice.

I tell people who are listening to this sit down and do that assignment, get out three big pieces of paper get your markers out and go to work on it. I promise you it will change your life. It will make your life completely different just doing this assignment.

Tom: That’s a really interesting idea. It’s like a little horror of kind of good energy mutually beneficial reciprocation.

Dr. Robert Glover: Sometimes I call it co-operative reciprocal system, sometimes I thought reciprocal cooperative systems, sometimes I add another adjective in there as well. It just keeps getting better.

Tom: Yeah, yeah, it sounds good.

This neediness thing is sometimes it’s fairly difficult to get out because sometimes people feel like they’re just falling through the bottom like they really have these deep needs for love, all these deep needs for affection or support or something like that. Just to stick with this metaphor of the bucket for a while because I was quite interested in this and what you mentioned before about boundaries as well.

As some of the most compassionate people that I’ve met have got really strong boundaries.

They have really good relationships with their boundaries because they know what’s okay and what’s not okay and somehow that allows them, it’s almost like their bucket doesn’t have any holes in it so it just keeps filling up which is a really interesting thing. I guess what my if I was to kind of make a question out of it, it’d be what do you think the relationship between boundaries something like compassion, if you have a good strong boundary, it’s almost like the opposite of neediness I’m able to give without… I always say compassion is a definition of I’m able to give without needing anything in return.

It’s like I’m just pouring good energy outwards and there seems to be a lot of power in that as well. It seems like there’s almost like a personal power to be enjoyed from that level of compassion I suppose or that level of being able to hold your own boundaries and know what’s okay and what’s not okay and who you are.

Dr. Robert Glover: I have two answers to go to your non question.

Tom: Okay, all right, great.

Dr. Robert Glover: I’m a pro at this. I’m a pro at giving answers. Let’s kind of put boundaries over here for a minute and coming back up just a little bit to something you said that I wanted to say something more about it. It goes back to what we’re talking about to the not needy.

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