Recently I’ve been doing some reflection on the role I play in my family, how this enables my family dynamics to play our and how this just isn’t working for me anymore.
I’ve had some family scenarios play out and it has really has become clear to me that I have adopted the ‘good girl’ role in my family. We have a small family comprising of my parents, and an older sister. Playing the good girl role involves being very compliant, dutiful, capable, available & responsible. It is more about other people’s need coming first and my goal is just trying to please everyone else. For me it was around working hard and achieving – which involved obtaining good grades in school, 9 years of study at University, having a successful profession whilst being a good person with strong values and doing the right thing by everyone else (read: not embarrassing the family in anyway!). For other women the focus might be around settling down, getting married and having kids – and in this role of being the dutiful mother/daughter your needs come last. The focus will really depend on what your parent’s have valued as important both in and outside the family and what messages you have been given growing up around what’s required to gain their love and approval.
For me the good girl role has been the way that I have shown up and played my part in the family. Whilst I continue to play that role I will experience a level of predictability and peace. Over recent time I have started to challenge that role as I continue to grow and learn. I have also gone through two big transition events – getting married and having a baby. This can also upset the status quo in the family as you move from family of origin to family of creation. In my family of origin I have started to reclaim my personal power – I must say it’s been a lot more difficult and challenging to change this dynamic in my family. It’s an interesting exercise to start to examine our family dynamics and what that means for us as adults. It’s a sign of growth that we are no longer accepting the role that suits others and we start to put our needs first.
This good girl role might be playing out with your partner, your mother, your family, your friends, work colleagues and even strangers.
How does the good girl serve you?
- The good girl role is no doubt a familiar role that you’ve adopted for perhaps your whole life, accommodating & pleasing others. It feels safe. This is your blueprint – meaning it’s your default/most comfortable role.
- Although it may create an unhealthy dynamic in current relationships and also the relationship you have with yourself, maintaining this role feels safer than changing.
However, the issue is that everyone else’s needs have been coming first for so long at the detriment of your own needs. You can lose the connection with yourself and your needs (which also has a link to our body/weight and eating behaviour). We are so busy being accommodating and fitting in to gain approval and maintain the status quo that we can lose ourselves in the process.
It’s hard to truly become your own person and step into your own power when are maintaining an old dynamic that involves forgoing your needs.
Here are my 5 steps to let go of the good girl role & step into your personal power:
Having that awareness of the role you played growing up. What was valued in your family? How did you get approval and love from your parents? How has playing this role worked for you? How has it worked against you? How does this play out in your eating behavior and your weight? Being the good girl can be very disempowering affecting how we feel about ourselves and our body.
Give yourself permission to change. Just because you grew up as the good girl, doesn’t mean that you need to continue to live your life pleasing everyone else. You are only stuck in this role if you allow it.
How would you like to be instead (with more personal power)? How would that look? Can you get an image of what she would look like, how she would talk, walk, hold herself? How would she be in relationships? Does she need to let go of some friendships? Does she need to say no more? Start to get to know this part of you. She’s in there – we just need her to become the default and more natural style in time.
What would it mean to change? What would that mean for your current relationships? What new boundaries might you need to set?
As human beings we essentially do not like a lot of change. We are creatures of habit and we value predictability. People close to you won’t like it when you start to change, because you will be challenging the status quo. How will your mum or friend cope when you are not so available for them because that’s the right thing by you?
That’s ok. But you need to realize that it’s going to be a journey and some people will embrace it and support you, and some people will fight you and try to push you back into your old good girl role (which is what my family has been doing to me).
Have that awareness that although it’s the right thing by you, other people may not see it that way. It’s about accepting that’s where people are at. It’s their issues and you need to hand it back to them rather than reacting and defaulting back to your old role.
Making it happen.
Twice a day (ideally when you wake up and before bed) I want you to get in touch with what this new you looks like. Similar to watching a movie in your mind -you are the movie star. Put yourself in the shoes of the new you and run through your ideal day – the key is to make it really powerful and get in touch with the feelings and make them really strong. What does she look like, how does she feel in her body? What does she eat? What doesn’t she eat? Who does she interact with?
This exercise is a powerful way to reprogram our subconscious mind on the new way of being. Try this for a week and see how you feel.
Whilst challenging and breaking out of the old way of being is very liberating and freeing – it also isn’t easy but it’s well worth it. I’m still on the journey with my family. It’s been one of the most difficult things that I have done, but it’s well worth it. The benefit of reclaiming your personal power far outweighs the discomfort you will endure. When we truly stand in our personal power – there are no limits to who we can be!
Note: if you have tried this and it feels too hard or scary to change – I recommend working with a therapist to help this transition when you are ready. I have a deep understanding that this can be a challenging process for some women and depending on the situation may need to some extra support to facilitate this transition.