Break Free From Good Girl Conditioning

Learn how to work with our good girl programming to empower ourselves in order to feel less guilt and shame. As we break free from it, we will also stop patterns of  codependency, people pleasing and over functioning. 

In today’s episode I present a radically new way to look at the patriarchal programming that we all receive in order to bring us freedom. The bonus is that it works! Instead of pushing against the big tide of programming and conditioning that we are given, it works with it.

Where does Good Girl Conditioning Come From?

From our earliest days as little beings in this world, we are wired to seek love and acceptance from our parents or care givers. This is need driven as human babies can’t survive without another human’s help in their beginning moments and years.

Lie a baby down and what do they do? Cry to be picked up. It’s hardwired into our survival. literally. Human babies can not survive without another human. If you birth a baby and leave it there, it will perish. The need to be accepted is necessary for our survival. 

Whether we identify as a boy or a girl, as little beings; constantly checking in with our parents or caregivers to see if we are “okay”. We crave their acceptance at such a deep level that we will alter how we act to get it.

Taking Care of People is Good?

Our active, malleable brains pay attention to things like, do we get praised when we bring mom her water? It is “taking care of people is good”. Do we get scolded when we cry when our toy breaks? Okay less of that. Our brain is “showing emotion is bad”. 

Add in the vast influence of patriarchy, and good girl behavior thrives. Patriarchy teaches women that goodness is valued above all other things. 

From our very littlest moments we are taught that to be good is more important than anything  else. I give many examples in the podcast episode of specific things that are said and behaviors that are praised. Make sure you listen here:

The main thing to understand here is that, from the day we are born, we start forming neural pathways that seek acceptance. The more feedback and approval we get for our good behavior, the stronger that neuropathway gets until we wake up in midlife with some deep grooves in our brain.

Is Good Girl Conditioning Affecting me?

How do you know if good girl conditioning affects you? Here are some questions to ask yourself to see how much this affects you:

  • Do you feel bad saying no when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do?
  • Is it hard for you to disagree with someone or to have a different opinion about something?
  • How often do you neglect your own care in order to care for someone else? Maybe thinking “they really need me to do this, just suck it up and deal”
  • Do you have trouble asking for help if it inconveniences someone else? Possibly feeling like a burden?
  • How do you feel when you disappoint others?
  • When someone else wants something, do you find yourself moving heaven and earth to make it happen even if it’s inconvenient for you?

If you’re like me, I literally answered yes to all of these questions. seriously. Which is why I am making this podcast episode. For sure, let’s keep doing the thought work to de-condition ourselves. Let’s continue to shift our thinking to accept we have needs too, that our desires are important, that others can be disappointed in us. I have lots of podcast episodes on that empowering side of breaking conditioning. Keep at it. Let’s keep doing it.

How to Move Forward?

In the meantime, we still live in this society, inundated daily with messages to be good, selfless, and self sacrificing. And because of that,  I’ve found a way to hack the system to make this whole thing feel a bit easier.

The way around it is to define your good. Instead of pushing against being a good girl and thinking “I’m going to stop thinking I need to be good”, this empowering step is to define for yourself what good is.

Instead of letting your neighbor define what being a good neighbor means, you define what being a good neighbor means. How about instead of letting your mom define what being a good daughter means, you define what being a good daughter means. Instead of letting your moody teenager decide what being a good mom means, you define what being a good mom means.

This is simple and profound.

What I’m asking you to do is to step out of the fast flow of life to define and decide for yourself what being good means. You get to decide for yourself, based on your values and priorities, how you want to show up and act instead of letting others decide for you.

Steps to Create Your Good Girl Manual

Step One:

Get out a piece of paper and think of a relationship where you recently or routinely feel guilt or shame. Ike you’re not doing enough or being good enough. Good people to think about are your parents, your kids, your partner, close friends. Choose one. The more tight your chest feels, the better. That’s your one.

Step Two

Write that relationship at the top. What I mean is if, if it’s your mom, write “good daughter” at the top. If it’s a friend, write good friend. If it’s your child write good mom. 

Step Three:

Make your manual. It’s time for you to decide. Brain dump by thinking of what it means to be a good fill-in-the-blank FOR YOU. What does being a good mom mean? What does being a good daughter mean? What does being a good wife look like? What does being a good friend entail?

This is where our values show up so if you don’t have a rough idea of what those are, queue up the values episode after this. 

Moving Forward:

Do you want some specific examples of what this looks like? Listen to the episodes. I give specific and personal examples of my good girl manuals as a mom and a friend. Come to coaching and we can discuss the manual I have as a wife and, even juicier, as an ex-wife ( this one helps me so much). 

For you today, please take the time to sit and write and define for yourself what it means to be good. It will make you feel so much better! (Plus it helps the other people in your relationship – yes even those ex-husbands!)

I’m so excited for this! If the patriarchal system bothers you (which I hope it does since it hurts all genders), this is some of the biggest work you can do. When we stop letting someone else, some other system, entity, and certainly some long-dead men, decide for us and our friends what’s good and bad, we dramatically affect the entire system. Talk about breaking generational programming and a better future for our kids and their kids. This is it. It starts with a piece of paper and a pen. Let’s go!

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Other links:

⭐️ Manuals episode 

⭐️ Values work