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Title: The Tyranny of Good Girl, Good Boy
Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: © 2004 by Margaret Paul URL: http://www.innerbonding.com Word Count: 789 Category: Relationships, Emotional Healing
The Tyranny of Good Girl, Good Boy By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Many of us grew up in households where our profound needs for love and safety were not met. We did not feel safe and loved in face of disapproval, criticism, rejection, abandonment, smothering, engulfment, physical abuse, sexual abuse. We did not feel safe when there was yelling, fighting, violence, substance abuse.
We had to do something to feel safe. Some of us figured out that we could have some control over our parents’ or other caregivers’ behavior if we were really good, if we attempted to do everything right. We figured out that if we disconnected from ourselves, from our own feelings and stayed acutely tuned into feelings of those around us, we could have some control over getting some approval and avoiding what we feared. We learned to feel a degree of safety by being a good girl, a good boy.
The problem is that, while we may have had some success with this strategy in our childhood homes, this same strategy is now causing our problems in our relationships at work and at home. When we disconnect from our own feelings, we become invisible to ourselves. Others end up treating us way we treat ourselves, so we become invisible to others as well. As adults, we end up bringing about very rejection we are trying to avoid, because we are rejecting ourselves.
My client, Maria, gave me title of this article when she said, “I’m trapped in tyranny of having to be a good girl.” Maria is struggling with her relationship with her boss, Andrea. Maria works as a trainer and is excellent at what she does. Like so many people who learned to control others through being good, Maria is a high achiever. She has also been very compliant with Andrea, changing plans and scurrying around to fulfill Andrea’s demands and expectations. However, she frequently ends up feeling stepped on and used by Andrea, as well as unseen and unappreciated. She has had same problem with men in her life, having given and given to point of exhaustion while not receiving love and acceptance she always hopes for.