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Will The Good Girl Please Stand Up

Eric's Imperfect SunflowerSo many of us have been made to grow up as pleasers, as “good girls” and “sweet boys.”  The expectation of our parents was that we behave at all times. It wasn’t allowed to have an angry meltdown, or even to cry in desperate pain.

Some of us were disciplined and forced into submission. We were reprimanded and yelled at and punished for apparent “misdeeds” that are completely normal for kids, like soiling yourself or breaking something accidentally.

Others had to take care of an anxious or fragile parent who wasn’t able to withstand any kind of challenge. They had to protect their caretakers from the pain they went through themselves.

Maybe they were bullied in class but couldn’t tell their mother about it, because she wouldn’t know how to stand up to the offender, or would deteriorate emotionally in the face of the pain her child had to endure.

Sometimes just a harmless scratch on a child’s knee will make their mother react with hysterical worry. The kid learns a lesson: “My mom can’t help me when I’m hurt and gets too upset, so I better don’t tell her about it.” This is how children become the caretakers of their parents.

What those kids are left with later in life is that they can’t ever do the wrong thing. They have to be “perfect” in the eyes of the world. They can’t complain when they feel overwhelmed. They aren’t allowed to have negative feelings towards a person in authority.

Failure sends them into a crisis that is hard to recover from. Even just talking about their weaknesses becomes a challenge. They are afraid that their friends and partners will leave them because they aren’t quite as perfect as they “should be.”

The truth is that we must learn to understand and ultimately accept our own imperfections. We must dare to say silly things and do stupid deeds, just because we don’t know any better! Holding in our insecurities will just keep them there – locked up inside where we can’t get rid of them.

We need to express and fess up to our doubts and weaknesses. We have to come to terms with the fact that we don’t know everything, can’t be liked by everybody and, yes, sometimes treat other people badly!

That may not concur with the image we have of ourselves. All our life, we’ve learned that we are such good people. Always treat others nicely, blah blah blah…

Don’t you get tired of it? Isn’t there a part of you, however small, that just wants to throw all caution to the wind and just for once, misbehave?

We have to stand up for this less perfect side of our personalities. This is what frees us from our depression, our judgmental beliefs against others, our own imprisonment that was first imposed on us by others, but becomes a self made prison as we grow up.

Being free means that we must let go of unrealistic expectations that we are perfect people. We are most definitely not.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Eric Vanderpool
Creative Commons License photo credit: manfri

Will The Good Girl Please Stand Up

Gerti Schoen, MA, LP

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APA Reference
Schoen, G. (2012). Will The Good Girl Please Stand Up. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2012
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