How do the following phrases sound to you? “I’ll give you the iPad only if you are a good kid” or “Everyone loves a good child” or “A good girl always takes care of others”. Do they remind you of something? Is it perhaps something from your childhood? Something you’ve often heard from your parents, grandparents, uncles, family?
Most of us have been brought up making an effort to be the good kid. I remember my mom telling me, “Good girls don’t shout and they never talk back.” “Good girls always listen to their parents and do what they are told to do.” “Good girls this, good girls that….” It does not come as a surprise that I was raised to be a “good girl.” For me this meant that I did not want to make mistakes, I did not say no, I did what it took to please others. Whenever I tried to be a “bad girl”, that is to find and bring my own voice to the surface, I always regretted it. So I learned not to set my limits, to be ashamed of my true self, to hide the “not-so-nice” parts of me, to become the door mat for everyone and everything. Why? For the same reason we all do it: to get acceptance from others, the significant others at first, and love.
Until one day I had enough! Enough of this good girl staff! The first and most difficult step for me was to acknowledge my truth; my very own truth. If I wanted to bring real changes I had to introduce some different qualities into my life. For example, to stop feeling guilty, to not blame myself for others’ mistakes, to stop trying to fix everything or be there for everyone. I worked a lot with myself and I still do. This is a never ending yet incredibly rewarding trip. At first I started with baby steps, slow but steady. Today I keep on going. I will make mistakes on the way but now I know there’s a lesson there for me to learn. Yes, I like it when others have a good opinion of me but I know that not everyone can like me and, more importantly, that my value does not depend on it. I do not avoid conflicts when I deem it necessary and I let my voice be heard. Of course not everything is painted pink all the time but I do not put myself down, I try again. My wish is for my daughter, our daughters, to take different lessons from what you and I took back then, to raise their own strong voices and to build their own lives the way they want to.