Are you struggling with the good girl syndrome? Watch for these telltale signs - Hindustan Times

Are you struggling with the good girl syndrome? Watch for these telltale signs

Aug 22, 2023 02:42 PM IST

"Good girl syndrome" describes behaviours that seek validation, please others, and strive for perfection, causing mental health issues. Scroll down to know more

Good girl syndrome is not a recognised psychological term, but it is informally used to describe a person who has certain behaviours or tendencies that could lead to people-pleasing behaviour, seeking external validation or trying to be a perfect person all the time. These are all behaviours which have been the norm in society. "The idea that girls should be obedient, sacrificing and presenting themselves in a good light has been glorified in our culture. Girls don't say no, don't raise their voice, don't have strong opinions, shouldn't argue back, should always be well spoken to, etc. are many such belief systems that young girls are brought up with. And then television serials like Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi Aur Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii - the female characters have done a lot to glorify such roles in our society," says Arouba Kabir, mental health counsellor, wellness coach and founder, Enso Wellness. (Also read: Tips for healthy relationship: 4 essential pillars of a strong and flourishing connection )

People affected by good girl syndrome often prioritise the needs and desires of others over their own.(Unsplash/Ángel López)
People affected by good girl syndrome often prioritise the needs and desires of others over their own.(Unsplash/Ángel López)

"This perception of idealistic females that people have either about themselves or the women around them is a concern or cause for emotional and mental health issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, people-pleasing behaviour and many other mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder et cetera," says Arouba.

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She added, "People who suffer from good girl syndrome have such poor self-esteem that they frequently struggle to say no, accept who they are, or set personal boundaries—despite the fact that these are all skills that they should possess. These people have very poor overall stress management skills. What is the trait that others praise so highly affects not just a person's personal life but also their academic performance, relationships, choices, financial decisions, social interactions, and other areas of their lives."

Arouba Kabir further shared with HT Lifestyle some potential signs of good girl syndrome:

1. People-pleasing: I need to please others at the expense of my own well-being. Difficulty saying no. Doing a lot of unhealthy things like starving yourself, looking a certain way, using products that can damage you in the long run, borrowing money, lying, isolating yourself, etc. could be the result.

2. Fear of rejection: The constant fear of disapproval or judgment by others can result in avoiding conflicts, confrontations, and decision-making—even in minor choices like food preferences or personal attire. This fear may prevent individuals from asserting themselves or expressing their dissent, even when they're unhappy with a situation.

3. Perfectionism: Wanting and trying to be flawless in all aspects of life, setting unrealistically high standards and feeling distressed when unable to meet them. Many people develop mental health problems such as OCD as a result.

4. Difficulty setting boundaries: Not being able to set clear personal boundaries and assertively communicate one's limits which most of the time leads to neglecting self and self-care activities.

5. Rescue behaviour: Women exhibiting such tendencies often assume the roles of caretaker, rescuer, or fixer within relationships. This can influence their choices, leading them to enter both nurturing partnerships and those that are fundamentally incompatible.

6. Experiencing guilt: When prioritizing self-care or placing their own needs as a priority.

"It is not a mental health illness; rather, we refer to it as emotional instability or difficulty that, once recognised, people can overcome. It is about how our formative years, which were between the ages of 7 and 10, affected us. These attributes may be recognised and belief systems can be altered when you begin working with a professional or even when you start doing self-work on your own," concludes Arouba.

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