Do you remember getting praised as a child for being pretty, agreeable, well-mannered, smiley or studious? For getting things right and following the rules?
Most females can and these innocent, well-meaning remarks begin the early indoctrination that being “a good girl” who does the right thing is a very good thing.
The trouble is the good girl syndrome doesn’t serve us well – it makes us serve everyone else first. If we are to drive change we need to push back and be unafraid of being challenged. We need to ask tough questions and back our own judgement over deeply-ingrained societal expectations. We need to go against the good girl grain because powerful women are almost the polar opposite: they are Anti-Good Girls.
At the heart of this shift is permission to do those things we really want to do but worry we can’t.
To leave the well-paid career we’ve invested everything in.
To love and respect our bodies whether they fit within the cultural norms of beauty or not.
To stay true to a decision we’ve made, even in the face of judgement and condemnation.
To put our own well-being first.
The good news about this permission is that it’s actually our own to grant. As good girls we are inclined to wait to be told it’s okay, to be reassured that our decision is the right one, to be invited to take care of our own needs.
But as we wait, we wither, as prisoners in our own cages of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’.
The trouble is if you’re doing everything ‘right’, you’re probably doing wrong by the one person who matters most – you.
The only permission any of us ever needs is our own: to follow our hearts, our dreams and to ruffle feathers if we must to soothe our own needs.
So how do we begin to give ourselves permission?
Tune in when you’re making a decision – we often make decisions on autopilot. Next time you automatically say yes to another item on your to-do list, or no to an opportunity to recharge, check in. What do you actually want? What would create joy/fulfilment/sustainability for you?
Question your fears. Is it absolutely true that ”they” would think that? Who specifically is ‘they’? And if they did think the worst, so what? Bring an actual person to mind and gently question the assumptions you are making.
Get back to your own business – when you’re making unquestioned assumptions about what someone will or won’t think about you, you’re in their business. Head back to your side of the fence and take care of you.
Fit your own oxygen mask first – A joyful, fulfilled you benefits everyone in your life.
Give yourself the permission to go against the grain on the small things. Say no to a request that might tip you into overwhelm mode. Share an unpopular opinion because it’s your own truth. Challenge a colleague when what they’re saying is BS. Strengthen your permission muscle so it’s conditioned and ready to go when it really counts.