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Good Little Girl Syndrome

Good Girl Survival Guide by Becky Paroz

Recovery

So you are in recovery for being a good girl?  You have realised that being told to “be a good little girl” is a form of control that you no longer wish to subscribe to?  You have realised that good girls generally finish last and without any acknowledgement of their efforts? You understand that not being a “good girl” does not automatically make you a “bad girl”. 

Congratulations.  You are on the first steps to recovery!  Now that you have taken that critical step, you need a survival guide that will give you a list of armour and weapons for your arsenal against those who would drag you back to that way of being.  Are you ready to unpack your survival kit?

Try each one of these at a time.  If you are new to this, trying everything at once will not only make you scary all at once to others, it may very well scare you!  Recovery takes time and space, so make sure you give yourself the time, energy and space to practice your skills with this kit. Of course if you have had enough and want to make a huge entrance as the new you, then absolutely go for it.  You probably already know there are people in your life who are struggling with your new identity – let them. You live for you now and not anyone else’s wishes and desires. If they align with yours, fantastic; you are very lucky; however for most, it takes time for those in your life to get used the new you and realise that you are now happy – and that it what matters most – that you are happy.  

You are no longer responsible for anyone else’s happiness but your own.

DO NOT: 

  • apologize for who you are;
  • attempt to explain who you are;
  • doubt the process; and/or
  • feel bad for moving beyond the boundaries of what a “good girl” does or does not do.  

DO:

  • Love who you are and are becoming;
  • Enjoy the discovery of how fun it can be to be daring, challenging, curious and/or opinionated; or anything else you want to be;
  • Know that the process gets easier with time and practice;
  • Feel great that you are living with freedom of choice in who you are each and every day.

Are you ready for this?  Then read on for your guide to using the “good little girl” survival kit. 

Kit ingredients: Attitude, Respect, Worth, Choice, Goals. WARNING: Use of this kit may change your life.  

Attitude

First thing you need is an attitude.  You will also need to know how to use it.  An attitude is like a muscle – the more you use it – the stronger and easier it gets to use.

An attitude does not mean being rude to everyone and anyone, but to know what you want and not be afraid to state it, but expect it.  You deserve to be treated as a grown woman, a human being, with feelings and emotions and the ups and downs that come with living in this world. You deserve reward and recognition for the efforts you make.  No one will hand that to you if you don’t demand it. If you are not yet comfortable making demands, at least allow that you have the right to ask. Similar to respect, your second weapon, attitude allows you to be okay with asking for that pay rise or demanding an apology if someone behaves rudely. 

Good little girls don’t do that, they just smile and accept what comes. You are not that good little girl any more, so start practicing in the mirror putting on your determined face. When you look as if you mean it, when your tone of voice shows you mean it, your attitude follows and people may not like it, but they will respond to it.  You may not get what you ask for, but will ensure that people now understand your worth. Most important is that you understand your own worth and are willing to stand up for that.

Take a moment to remind yourself of what a wonderful person you are. If you have been a good little girl, you have some fabulous characteristics that you can use at will, your will, without having to revert to that “good little girl” type.  You will be generous, giving, understanding, nurturing, caring and helpful. Remember to take it as far as you want – not how far the other expects. Get very clear on what you want from the new you and remind yourself constantly that you are you, not what others expect you to be or tell you to be. If you have someone in your life that reacts badly to you during your recovery process, you may wish to explain to them that you have changed and they can get on board or feel free to step aside as you race towards your destiny.  Do not stop the journey, that is exactly what the people who are struggling with the change in you want to have happen. If you stop now, it may be easier to never start again. Or you may get distracted and find that you have fallen into the “good little girl” trap again.  

People who love who you are will eventually realize that you are a happier and more complete individual and support you.  Those who benefit from you staying a “good little girl” may need to find someone else to be their “good little girl”. Fitting the mould that others have made for you no longer suits you.  Wear that attitude with pride. You are a survivor!

Put your attitude on each morning and admire how much it suits you each day before you face the world.

Respect

Your second weapon is respect.  This is all about respecting yourself.  It is tempting, when we go through change, to beat ourselves up for the time it has taken; mourn the opportunities lost; allow ourselves to feel silly for the things we have put up with in our incarnation as a “good little girl”.  Stop that right now. Not only are you wasting more time, but that thinking does not support the new you. Instead, focus on how much harder it would be if you had left it longer; remind yourself that you could have never have come to this awareness and that is a true horror story!  Think of the people you will inspire who have been waiting for someone like you to demonstrate it is possible to survive being a “good little girl”.

When you respect yourself, the respect of others becomes less important.  You will realise that if you respect yourself, and you are the person who knows you best, then the view of those around you does not sway you any more.  It is a much healthier way of being yourself. It doesn’t mean ignore feedback, but allows you be discerning in the feedback you take on. Feedback that is driven by other wanting you to be “good” can be ignored for the control that it is.  You can respect yourself by ignoring this input. If you find yourself swayed by this type of input, get your attitude out and wave it around a little.

Respecting yourself mean putting your needs and wants first.  No longer do you have to “jump” when the boss demands that you provide your immediate attention to him to the detriment of your work.  Instead, you can ask him to check the priorities and make it clear that you are doing what you can, but the timetables may be unrealistic.  Imagine not having to stay back, to be a doormat, to pick up where others have failed. This might be very uncomfortable when you first start the process, but imagine the comfort (and free time you might find you have) when you stop worrying about the failings of others.  Remind yourself of the respect you feel for the new you when you are tempted to step back into the “good little girl” role. Allow others to be who they are, without feeling the need to fill a gap.

Worth

This is similar to respect.  Everyone has worth. Allow yourself to feel it, to wallow in it, to rub it into your skin until every pore is soaked with your worth.  It is a hard process for a “good little girl”. “Good little girls” usually only have worth when in service to others. It is why it is such a nasty little trap for the unwary.  A newly found survivor is vulnerable when she takes her first steps into the world of being a powerful woman. She needs to know her worth and hold onto that like a life-jacket. When all the feedback around swarms like angry, buzzing bees, it is the one thing that may keep you afloat.  Take it as a given, as a survivor, there will be the potential for being swamped by the negative opinion of others. Once you armour up with your “good little girl” survival kit, you will be able to handle the waves, but it is a trap for beginners.

Having a healthy sense of your own worth is priceless armour.  This is the hardest thing to do – be honest about how wonderful you are in your own right, without having to prove it.  Take it as a given that you are worthy and see how that feels right now. If you need further reinforcement, make a list of what your qualities are.  Negative qualities are a matter of perspective, so try and pretend you are a good friend and tell you all the wonderful things you have to offer.  

Women can be very generous to their friends, but often do not apply that generosity to themselves, particularly if they have never thought of doing so before.  Give it a try. You may surprise yourself with how wonderful you turn out to be! Enjoy feeling good about yourself.

Your worth does not come from what you do for others – it comes from how you approach life.  The fact that you are a person on our planet with feelings, emotions, wants and needs makes you worthy.  It is not something that has to be earned or can be purchased. It is inherent to living. If you need to, every time you have a drink, make sure there is a healthy dose of worthy included; you can refuel on worth if you need to simply by taking a glass of cool clear nourishing water and worth whenever you need to.  

It takes practice to feel worthy, but once you allow yourself to feel it, it is yours and no one can take it away from you.  Own it. Pin that worthy badge to your attitude armour and wear it right next to your respect in yourself.   

Choice

Now that you are not a “good little girl” any more – who are you?  What an exciting and wonderful question to be able to ask. You don’t need an answer for the rest of your life, just today.  Who are you today? Perhaps you are the motivated go-getter. How about the determined achiever? Some days it may even be the lazy lounge-lizard, and those can be some of the best days you will ever have!!  Perhaps you are a wonderful care-giver today, perhaps a boardroom lioness!

The ability to choose who you will be comes with the freedom of not being a “good little girl”.  It means that if you need to, you can be cranky, happy, excited, adventure loving, TV watching, sexy, lazy mega-cook.  And then five minutes later, try on another outfit because that one didn’t suit you today.  

When others attempt to impart a way of being to you, you can choose to listen.  You can choose to thank them for their feedback. You can choose to ignore their issues and get on with your day. When you choose, you prevent others from choosing for you.  How refreshing, to not be moved from anger to frustration, to helplessness, to submissive by the input of others. Remind yourself in the moment, you can choose to act how others expect, or you can choose to exercise your attitude, respect and worth and say to the world “I choose to be me, regardless of your expectations”.  

Give it a try.  There is no one here but you and me, and I can’t hear you.  So say it out loud and allow yourself to feel it. “I am who I choose to be in each and every moment”.  Say it a few times and get louder and more intense with each repetition. Worried about who might hear you?  Stop being a “good little girl” and say it even louder!! 

If this is difficult for you, keep going.  Never stop, no matter how slow you feel you are crawling at the moment, and never, ever look back.  If you want to turn it up and make it more powerful, look yourself in the eye in a mirror and try and convince your reflection.  When your reflection believes it, you will too. 

When you kit up with your other good girl survival armour, remind yourself during the process that you choose….. everything.  

Goals

So here you are.  A newly released survivor of the “good little girl syndrome”.  Congratulations on your successful escape.  Now what?

Let us review what we have found in the kit so far – attitude, respect, worth, choice.  You have been practicing with the armour and weapons and you feel ready for the next step.

Waving your sword of choice around is good fun.  Now you are practiced at using it, you can expand this weapon of choice into the rest of your environment. To do this, you need a few goals.  They will keep you on the path you have chosen.  It will assist to refocus you after you chose to just be fabulous on the lounge watching television or reading a good book and choose to have a day off from being fabulous in the world.

In order to set goals, there are a few rules to work with to maximize your ability to succeed in achieving these goals.  

Firstly, the goal needs to be an “I” statement.  This can be difficult for a “good little girl” survivor to do.  You cannot make goals for others. You can only set goals for yourself, so start with an “I” statement such as “I will have …” or “I will achieve …”

Secondly, you need to give yourself a timeframe.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t meet the timeframe, just that you set yourself an end date.  This helps you move closer to the goal. If you think about a goal in terms of “one day” or “later” you will be waiting for that “one day” every day.  Now your goal statement looks like “on MM/DD/YYYY I will have…”.

Thirdly, the goal needs to be achievable or realistic.  It doesn’t mean it is not a stretch for you to achieve, but it is also not impossible.  As an example, if you have mobility issues, running a marathon may not be an achievable goal for you.  However, participating in a marathon is not impossible. Be aware of the language you use to create the goal so that it is possible.  Remember you are setting these goals to achieve them, so when you first start, take it easy on yourself. If you want to climb Mt Everest, start with a few smaller goals in a timeframe that is achievable, then work up to bigger, more challenging goals. 

If we take climbing Mt Everest as an example of the goal you wish to set, here are the type of goals you could use to reach the ultimate goal.

By 5th July 2015, I will have participated in a 3 hour fun run.

By 23rd September 2015, I will have finished 3 marathon runs of a minimum of 25 miles each.

By 14th March 2016, I will have successfully climbed 3 mountains (insert names – be as specific as you can).

On 18th October 2017, I will climb Mt Everest to the first base camp.

You can alter the details, but with these samples, you should now be starting to see how the goal needs to be in simple language, be about you, have an end date and be achievable.  Practice with goals you know you will achieve, such as “On Christmas day this year, I will make a 3 course meal for my family”. Of course you can achieve this, but as you practice achieving your goals, it will become instinctive and easy for you to construct a goal that stretches you.  If you are the type who likes to write things down, write each goal on a separate card and place them around your house on the refrigerator door; on the mirror you use every morning; attached to your computer screen. Refresh your intentions by reading the goal, say it out loud if you need to and visualise celebrating your success when you see it achieved.

Celebration is a key cornerstone of the survivor.  Take the time to reward yourself for being you, especially when you achieve a goal.  It could be as simple as a cookie or a glass of wine. It could be taking yourself out to an expensive restaurant or a pamper session.  Take the time to reward yourself for being a survivor, for achieving goals, for choosing every day.

If you use this guide and your kit you will survive having been a “good little girl”.  Enjoy the process, the outcomes, the YOU that is a powerful woman. You are amazing.

(Published here with permission from the author, Becky Poraz. First Published in 2014: Overcoming the Good Little Girl Syndrome; How to Stop being a People Pleaser. Published in 2018 in The Words of Bek (Published by Pineapple Lit Pty Ltd).

Becky Parozhttps://imaginarium2point0.com/
Becky Paroz is an author, blogger and coach who has worked for nearly 30 years in the construction industry, taking names and making one for herself. She has made a place in the world, she has never waited for a space to open for her. She is a mentor and coach and has released her first book The Words of Bek.
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