I have a question for you. Are you a good girl? You know what I mean–that “Be a good girl” refrain so many of us grew up with. Being a good girl meant being quiet, polite, studious, helpful, neat and perhaps seen but not heard. We heard it from parents, relatives, caregivers, teachers, clergy and coaches.
I don’t know about you, but I sure strived to be a good girl (until my teens that is). I am a first child, a pleaser. I did everything I could to be good. So, by default, being a good girl did not leave room for being angry, outspoken or self serving. Those behaviors were not encouraged.
And therein lies the hitch. Because being a good girl was so stressed to so many of us in childhood, when we entered adulthood we kept it up. And that has meant biting our tongues. Going along to get along. Putting our families needs in front of our own. Squelching our emotions. Not getting our needs met.
“I’m fine. Everything is fine.”
How many times have you said it?
So often when I work with clients I gently bring up “the anger issue”. There are many, many women who go through life telling themselves that they are fine. They have become so adept at pushing their feelings away that they honestly are not able to recognize how angry they are. How resentful. How hurt and sad they are that they do not have the voice they want in their own lives. That they have somehow gotten to a place where they don’t matter.
I was one of those women. The day that I realized that I had allowed myself to stop mattering was a huge turning point in my life.
I believe that women fall into this pattern in large part because of the good girl syndrome. We believe that this is what we are supposed to do. This is what being a good wife and mom is all about. We were taught to be good and we want to live up to that expectation.
But being good all the time is limiting and doesn’t allow us to be our whole selves. Because who can be good all the time?
When I start working with a new client, it isn’t easy to suggest that there is a deep seated anger that she may be choosing not to face. Often the client says, “I’m not angry. What are you talking about?”
It can take a while of working together before this woman can get to the place where she sees and feels the anger. But when she gets there? Such a great day!
Again, my clients are a little confused by the fact that I congratulate them on their anger.
Because anger is bad, isn’t it?
No. Not in this case.
It isn’t until you feel the emotions that you can be free of them. As I often say, the only way out is through.
So when your anger finally surfaces, it can be felt. When it can be felt and seen, then the stem of it can be found. And that is when it can be fixed. That is when you can see where it is coming from, see how it is affecting your day to day life and then make the changes necessary to make it go away.
Usually the anger that you feel is directed inward for not being true to yourself. But knowing that you dug the hole also gives you the power to dig yourself out.
So how do you know if you are suffering from the good girl syndrome? It can show up in different ways:
~You may numb yourself with food, alcohol, tv, the internet or busyness and not ever understand why you do it.
~You may take your anger out in “safe” places–maybe with your husband or kids–but never let it be seen in your public persona.
~You may occasionally completely blow your stack in some random way–over something trivial or with a complete stranger. You might wonder “Where the heck did that come from? Did I really just do that?”
~You may have friends tell you that they see anger in you and you may quickly deny it. “I’m not angry.” and you push it back away.
These are all ways that your anger may be trying to speak to you. To come out. To be seen and felt. And dealt with so it can go away.
Are you ready to stop being a good girl all the time? Do you recognize yourself in this?
Please know that you are not alone and that I am here to lend a helping hand. Hit contact in the upper right hand corner to set up your free discovery call. You can knock this anger out once and for all so you can start living the life you were meant to live.
From one good girl to another.