Why can't you just "kick the good girl to the curb" easily?
You have worked diligently to become stronger, more self-confident, less self-doubting, more self-accepting and authentic.
You have done the therapy so that you can feel more self-confident and less depressed, and while it has helped, you still get caught more often than you want to in obeying those invisible "rules" of the Good Girl - putting yourself second, or last, even (and especially) when you need to come first (even when in survival mode).
You have done the speaker trainings, worked to claim your voice, to still that self-critical voice in your head and become a confident, more engaging speaker...but you still feel stalled by self-doubt, unworthiness and crippling fear.
You have read the self-help books, attended the big workshops with the power gurus and purchased more products than you can afford, and you have ended up with bookcases full of trainings you haven't listened to, or that you have listened to without results.
But it's not your fault. You are living in an invisible prison with invisible effects, and until you see them and understand how to walk through them, your ability to make progress is going to be limited. So let's make the invisible, visible!
There are two aspects to our struggle to free ourselves to be our authentic self: the Personal and the Universal.
The Personal relates to our life-based issues. Here is where complete healing seems to be the goal. Perfection lives here. Satisfaction is something you do not give yourself until you receive the external rewards: the approving smile or nod, the job, the money, the relationship,
The Universal relates to our communal, social rules. Here is where choice and quality of life are the healthy goals. Possibilities and gray areas live here. Satisfaction happens now because satisfaction comes from your efforts as well as the results.
The Good Girl has an almost spiritual faith in total healing as a goal to be reached; she believes that if she heals "enough", she will become strong enough to be a warrior for her own needs. Her view of that strength is that it lives largely in the wished-for future. She has to "work to get there". What I coach and teach is that the he opposite is true: We can be there now, and get the reward now as well.
The strong woman knows that her history is rich manure for her garden of personal growth. It provides insight, understanding, and chances for transformation and forgiveness. And when she allows herself to also look at her shackles from a perspective that is less bound to her personal issues, she gives herself access to immediate results. Those results come from allowing herself to experiment with authentic modes of self-imageand self-empowerment.
In other words, using different perspectives, words, attitudes, approaches, new physical and emotional settings that reflect process and lovingkindness to self, instead of perfection and self-flagellation when that perfection is not attained, the Good Girl can walk daily through the social "shoulds" that batter her. She can, by learning those different perspectives, words, approaches, attitudes and settings, learn to walk through the social shoulds in her life to morph again and again into the ever-stronger woman. Now. And now. And now. And now again and again. The results and the rewards are consistent.
It is not your fault that you find it difficult to educate the Good Girl to let go of wrong beliefs and to grow. You are operating within a prison that you do not see because it is so close to you.
You may know your issues. You may know that you can't speak up because your father always told you to shut up and keep your thoughts to yourself. Do you also know that it is not always your issues keeping you silent?
Consider the elements of the environment in which we all live, and ask yourself how it impacts you directly, because it does.
Not too long ago we were not permitted to run in races because we were considered not as strong and fast as men.
How easy it is to say to ourselves, "Oh, that's not that bad. It's not as bad as it used to be - it's okay. I do alright, so I shouldn't be so upset about it." Actually, it is just as bad, and we will not take our place in our world if we are not willing to acknowledge the situations in which we live, and their impact on us.
Jean Kilbourne, in her ground-shifting presentation Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women, destroys the idea that we shouldn't be so upset about the popular culture - that we are stronger than its patently ridiculous messages. In fact, this culture and its messages are the reason why we find so little relief.
"In 2007, the American Psychological Association released a report concluding that girls exposed to sexualized images from a young age are more prone to three of the most common mental health problems for girls and women – depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem."
Women are included with girls here because we are all affected, regardless of age.
The results and their "invisible", potent effect on you hold you like an invisible anchor chain. The answer to this problem is two-fold: (1) understand the problem, and (2) learn how to walk through the prison bars every single day that you wish to.
Really seeing the environment helps you get that you are not just trying to heal what mommy or daddy said or did to you, but that you are trying to do it within a world that actively holds you down every day, with every commercial, every "It's just a joke", every "Don't be so sensitive", every manipulative conversation in which power-over is lowered onto your head, stunning you into silence or tears.
Once you know that this is the world in which you are living, with the rules that you have taken in and made your own, you will give yourself a break from the self-punishing and blaming thoughts that actually keep you right in lock-step with the rule of "it's all my fault".
And really learning the steps, modes, attitudes, words, behaviors and so forth that aid you in opting out of the Good Girl, and into the authentic woman you are, frees you to go from good to great in the choices that you make. It allows you also to help other women, young and old, who hunger for the kind of freedoms you are finding.
The next time you have to do something that upsets the Good Girl in you - when you have to speak up, when you have to walk away or towards something, when you have to be more visible, when you have to set boundaries, when you have to ask for what you deserve - you can now understand that you are breaking not only with your childhood but with a world of messages that you and your culture have married you to.
And seeing this, understanding this, now the "separation" can begin. Now you have the room you need to find the tools to make your personal "prison breaks" in even the smallest of moments or decisions. Now you have the room you need to find answers that will give you the needed strength and deeper understanding to take a step outside your socially-constrained "norms"...now...and now...and now.
Your willingness to see the setup and your willingness to break the chains assures your freedom; not tomorrow, but today and in each moment that you choose to try that something new.
It is not your fault.
It is your opportunity to be free, authentic, and fiercely you.
Are you struggling with writing and presenting the kind of presentation, talk or book that tells your truth and has the ability to change the lives of those you touch? Set up a 15-minute consultation during which I can tell you how I can help you break through. The work I do is powerful and is done step-by-step alongside you, assisting you in finding and expressing your core emotional message, and honing it with structure and stage delivery.
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Talent Optimization Specialist, Speaker, Consultant, Writer and Advocate for the Redefined Self-Image and Impact of Leadership, Women Leaders and Leadership Teams, Lori is the author of Call Center Crazy and The Human Solution: Human Solutions to Every "Unsolvable" Business Problem,
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