THE GROWN UP “GOOD GIRL”: not all it’s cracked up to be.

Were you brought up to be a “good girl” or “good boy”? I’m going to stick to the “good girl” concept here because I find that it’s mostly women who experience a painful playing out of this identification when they’re adults.

It makes sense that, as children, our parents praise us for fulfilling their expectations and pleasing them. They need to run their family. They need to teach their children. They need to figure out along the way how on earth to parent! They need to, you know, just get their kids in the car or the bath!!! It’s no easy task.  

Yet through the kind of praise we receive as children, we can develop patterns of experience and beliefs which don’t serve us as adults. Let’s face it – in being a “good girl” we’ve learned that we earn love, affection, and praise by pleasing others, by behaving and acting as others would like us to! We’ve learned that we’re safe if we put others before ourselves. It’s pretty messed up when you look at it that way.


And feeling safe is an extraordinarily powerful survival imperative. To feel safe, on that most primitive, mammalian level, we’ll sacrifice all sorts of other personal needs. If we learn as children that it’s not safe to express an opinion, or it’s not safe to disagree or defy our parents’ wishes, or it’s not safe to be seen and heard, our subconscious mind will sacrifice all other needs before that of safety.  

Unfortunately, it doesn’t just stop in childhood!  


So how does this “Good Girl Syndrome” play out when we’re older? See if you can relate to any of these:

You struggle to put yourself first, sacrificing your own needs and wishes to those of others.

You carry the burden of low self-esteem.

You feel as though you don’t matter, as though everyone else comes before you.

You run around pleasing others and feel frustration at yourself for doing so, yet feel powerless to stop!

You find it difficult to assert yourself or express your opinion with clarity and strength.

You avoid confrontation or arguments, and when you do argue or get upset, you feel powerless.


You’ll go to state Your opinion in a meeting or discussion – an opinion you consciously recognise as valuable and important – and you’ll feel tongue tied, sweaty palmed and muddled. Why? The subconscious is yelling at you internally: “NOOO!!! It’s not safe for you to have an opinion or disagree! STOP! Survival! Survival! Safety comes FIRST!”  

You’ll recognise that you’re exhausted and need a break, and you’ll keep running around taking care of everything for everyone else. And then you may well feel frustrated and angry at their lack of appreciation. Why? Because, even though you yearn for some ‘you’ time, the subconscious is yelling at you internally: “NOOO!!! It’s not safe for you to put yourself first! You must put everyone else first! It’s not safe to stop and have a rest! Safety comes FIRST!”

Or how about this – you learned as a child that you’re loved and accepted if you’re perfect. So what do you do? You work so very very hard, and put unconscionable amounts of pressure on yourself to be ‘perfect’ in whatever areas or ways (appearance, work, relationships, achievements, for example), till you buckle under the pressure. You never feel like you’re ‘enough’ because, well, what is perfection anyway? It’s a concept, not a practicable reality. No one could live up to the standard of Perfection.  


Just imagine Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders but instead of Atlas, it’s a woman who was brought up to be a “good girl”. That’s the kind of internal burden we’re talking about here.

And when you put that much pressure on yourself, cracks begin to develop. Chronic stress… anxiety… constantly buzzing mind… panic attacks… Not to mention the low self-esteem and low self-confidence that come along with the need to prove perfection or please all the time, when it’s an impossibility!  


Many of us are aware of our patterns and certain triggers, but being aware will only allow us to manage better. We might learn different tools and strategies in order not to be too badly affected by them. BUT – if you want resolution of the “Good Girl Syndrome”, you need to deal with it in the subconscious. That’s where the pure gold is – not just the fake stuff.  

Take heart and ask yourself: why not me?

You can book a 20-minute complimentary discovery session here to explore further.

About Sally

As a former international opera singer, Sally Wilson knows a thing or two about being at the top of your field. And she’s discovered first-hand what it feels like to step away from the spotlight and lose your identity.

Through coaching, Sally helps her clients let go of their self-sabotaging beliefs and discover freedom, joy and fulfillment. As an accredited TRTP™ practitioner, Sally uses evidence-based practices to create changes that are quick, safe and lasting.

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