I see the RGGS wherever I go, and hear it from almost every female I know, but most of all I see it in myself. It’s the dynamic tension between this amazing powerful knowing in a woman who hungers for greatness and the other aspect of self who is afraid of making waves, hurting feelings, being “correct” or worst of all, being called the “B” (bitch) word in pursuit of this greatness. This greatness is a passion within her to really express herself, share her innate gifts, point of view, and make a difference in the world and the people around her, in whatever simple or grand way that feels right for her.
As a result she’s in a holding pattern, driving with the brakes on at worst, or the restless feeling that she’s not operating on full tilt. And guess what, the saddest thing is everyone loses. She loses because she isn’t able to access her full potential, the people around her loses because they don’t get the goodies that she has to offer in the same way, and the world loses because her brilliance doesn’t get unleashed to the level it can be. We love those brazen babes who go for it, the Bette Midlers, Lady Gagas, Gloria Steinems, or equally as important, the local heroines that may help out a local community center in such an important or simple way or just lead a very authentic life.
Having been through this Recovering Good Girl Syndrome in my own life and continue to do so on a daily basis, and having coached hundreds of people through their own process (and some Recovering Good Boy Syndromes as well), I am all too familiar with RGGS and know when I’m in it.
Luckily, I know how to move through it, and have created three Power Principles that I have found invaluable in overcoming it.
1) Respect and listen to what lights you up, and equally important what pisses you off
Our passions and our piss offs (yes I know that’s not a real word, I just Lois-ized it a bit) are the roadmap to our authentic self. This doesn’t mean you’re going to go on a rampage of self-expression annihilating everyone in your path, that’s just being irresponsible and cruel. One of the biggest symptoms of RGGS is that we either implode our own experiences (burying them in nicey-nicey rationalizations, make nice behaviors, or numb ourselves out with different substances, technology, etc. or ignore them totally) or explode and start BMWing (bitching, moaning and whining) but don’t do anything to really shift the pattern. The sheer courageous act of stopping, breathing and allowing yourself to get interested in your reactions, looking at it as an archeological dig to find the buried gold, is your goal.
2) Ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself through this experience?”
Once you’ve started listening, now get curious. Get really interested in using this as an opportunity to learn about yourself. I often journal, meditate or call a dear friend who really knows me well, and who will be loving and supportive, but also challenge me to look at the greater lesson. Whatever modality or tools work for you are great. Some people write songs to express what’s going on for them but make sure to find a way that you can use these experiences to learn about yourself, in order to grow and develop as a human being.
Last month, I had a very strong reaction to something my colleague was doing. What started out as the green-eyed monster of envy, when I sifted through it, was a longing to get more comfortable with asking for help, but also honoring the importance of the role of integrity in my life that I felt was very much missing in this person’s business conduct. After years of “getting interested” I’m less scared or resistant then I used to be, and now see them as life’s larger classroom. So often our experiences have a “both are true” experience if we cut through our previous either/or thinking that pure reactivity often brings with it.
3) Take one action that helps solidify and further this personal truth
One of my favorite Lois-isms is “Insight + Implementation = Incredible Results. Having this new insight or reminder for yourself is a great start, and a step in the right direction for overcoming the RGGS but unless it translates to an action, nothing will really shift in your life. It doesn’t have to be a big sweeping action, it can be a gentler softer one.
For many women, I find asking for help without apologizing for the inconvenience, giving tons of backstory of why they need the help is the only action they need to take. For others it may be a firm boundary set in a playful and simple manner. One former client of mine who was very successful but speechless when it came to entering the boy’s club at office meetings, found that taking a few deep breaths and adding, “I need to jump in here,” with a poise and self-assurance leveled the masses.
As women we get inundated with tons of messaging that undermine our power (and yes, of course men do as well) but that doesn’t mean we have to perpetuate the cycle. These three simple steps when done like most shampoo instructions inform us, “Open, apply generously, repeat often,” will make a huge difference in your life.
Stay tuned for my next week’s Ending the Recovering Good Girl Syndrome vlog on YouTube. Have a great week, and if you haven’t signed up for the “I Love Myself Project” free day of seminars, please do so!