There can be a lot of pressure to be a “nice girl.” The “nice girl” or “good girl” is the type of woman who everyone loves because she will drop anything, anytime, for anyone. The “nice girl” is selfless and works hard to never make anyone uncomfortable or disappointed. She lets people know “it’s ok” if they hurt her feelings and is never rude even if other people are making her uncomfortable.
It can be incredibly attractive to be a “nice girl” when it seems like it will guarantee you approval from others. However, it’s also a shame that as women, we still receive messages all the time about how to be accepted, we must sacrifice our authenticity. After all, no one authentically was born to only serve others.
The costs of being a nice girl
Each person, including each woman, was born to fulfill her own unique life purpose. However, so many women in the quest to be a “nice girl” sacrifice endlessly. We do this, understandably, for approval. Yet this way of life is ultimately soul crushing. Living solely as the “nice girl” is death. It’s the death of your authentic self. It’s It’s the death of your self-worth. It’s the death of your hopes and dreams.
While the costs of being a “nice girl” eventually become clear in many women’s lives, it can be hard to find a new way. There is so much programming we receive as women which reinforces being a people pleaser. To support you in breaking through this programming, I recommend you read Break the Good Girl Myth: How to Dismantle Outdated Rules, Unleash Your Power, and Design a More Purposeful Life by Majo Molfino.
The programming to be a nice girl
In Break the Good Girl Myth, Molfino outlines the five myths women must overcome to live authentically. These myths are: The Myth of Rules, The Myth of Perfection, The Myth of Logic, The Myth of Harmony, and The Myth of Sacrifice. Molifino proposes that each of these myths are taught to us from the time we are young girls and eventually, we internalize these messages and self-sacrifice.
Of course, the myths you personally internalize most are unique to each woman. In her book, she provides you an opportunity to assess which myths negatively impact you most often. Personally, I found this self-assessment provides accurate and helpful results. For me, my top myths are the myth of perfection and harmony. As someone in recovery for codependency, it was no surprise to me that those are the myths I most internalized.
You are multi-dimensional not just a nice girl
Break the Good Girl Myth dedicates the majority of the book to both explaining each myth and providing action steps to heal. Molfino makes powerful points throughout this book about these myths we internalize as women to be “nice” and self-sacrificing. Much of what she wrote resonated with me even for myths I haven’t internalized much.
In the Myth of Rules, Molfino emphasizes just how damaging it is to teach girls and women that there is just one path we must choose in life for success. I fell into this trap for so long believing I was “just” a therapist. Over time, I find the confidence to claim the truth I’m also an author. Her reframe for the truth that we are more than just one interest or passion is “I can follow multiple paths because I’m multidimensional and evolving” (p. 65). I love this reframe or affirmation as I would personally call it.
You aren’t perfect (and that’s ok)
Many women commonly fall into the myth of perfection I have personally witnessed. It’s as if we believe that if we can achieve perfection – in our looks, our careers, our relationships, etc. – than we will finally be “enough.” However, this myth only adds to our pain in life because it’s impossible for any person, or woman, to be perfect. Thereby, if we believe this myth, we will always feel like we’re “not enough.”
Related: What is self-compassion?
Molfino insightfully teaches this myth of perfection comes from the patriarchy. As she states, “If you want to control people, make them walk on a tight rope” (p. 89). This is so true. When women are preoccupied with perfection, they avoid taking the necessary risks to live the life of their authentic dreams. This keeps women playing small. It keeps us from making waves which includes having more political power and wealth. Playing small, while understandable, hurts humanity as a whole. It’s impossible to calculate the immeasurable losses from now historically encouraging women to take risks.
You are wiser than you give yourself credit for
As a therapist, I am consistently encouraging my female clients to listen to themselves. However, after years of programming that logic is superior to intuition, they’ve stopped being able to hear themselves. This is related to the Myth of Logic, Molfino wisely asserts.
She passionately makes the case to listen to ourselves including our intuition and imagination to be truly empowered and happy. She highlights that “When we follow logic over intuition, we marry the person or take the job that makes sense on paper instead of what feels true in our gut” (p. 137). This is painfully true. I have spoken to countless women over the years who, deep down, knew the person they were marrying wasn’t truly their person. This led to years of pain, anxiety, confusion, guilt and shame.
When a woman denies what she knows to be her truth, there are only two paths. One is to live a life of pain denying your truth endlessly. The other path is to walk the rocky path to claiming your truth and authenticity. The latter offers much joy on the other side but is a painful process. How awesome would it be to just be empowered to listen to yourself from the get-go?
Protecting your authentic self
Throughout Break the Good Girl Myth, Molfino guides the reader into more deeply understanding each myth. She also provides action steps including meditations to help you start to overcome these myths. While I don’t recall Molfino ever explicitly saying this, her book is about setting boundaries around cultural messages about who women “should” be to loved, valued, and accepted. Boundaries are limits we set to protect our time, energy, and being.
As a therapist who has worked with primarily women for over a decade, I have witnessed the power of boundaries time and again for true empowerment. The understanding of how much more a woman believes in her authentic self with healthy boundaries led me to develop my course, Confidently Authentic: Stop People Pleasing and Start Being True to Yourself. In this course, I guide students through my 4-part healthy boundaries system so over time they can be more confident and empowered than ever before.
The pain of the people pleaser
Molfino also discusses the myths of harmony and sacrifice which often overlaps with codependency. If you want to learn more about codependency and how to recover from it, I encourage you to read my books, The Codependency Recovery Plan and The Codependency Workbook.
The programming we receive as women can make it tremendously difficult to identify our own needs as well as to assert ourselves. Knowing this to be true, in my course, I dedicate a module to identifying your own needs and another to teach you how to communicate your needs and boundaries with others.
The costs of these myths are healthy relationships and the life of your dreams. You lose your valuable time and energy when you believe you must give it all away to others to be safe and valued. Of course, self-care (which includes prioritizing time for your own work and charging for it) isn’t selfish but it can be so hard to break through this programming.
Having the courage to not be a nice girl
Authentically, each of us was given life dreams and unique gifts that the myths of the good girl prevent us from accomplishing. Molfino writes Break the Good Girl Myth in a straight forward and clear manner to empower each reader to have the courage to live more authentically.
This book is a wonderful resource to become more empowered. Molfino is clearly passionate about helping as many people break through these myths as possible which I sincerely appreciate. Molfino closes her book with powerful calls to action. She shares,
We need more women like you sharing their gifts. Don’t let the story of not being good enough or needing to fit into a certain mold to stand in your way. It’s time to do what you’ve been longing to do. It’s time to make art. Time to be of service. Time to protest….Time to discover. Time to inspire and empower others.Break the Good Girl Myth, Majo Molfino
When as women we try to play the game that’s been outlined for us over who we “should” be there is no winning. Molfino powerfully outlines the myths of the game we have programmed to play and how we can begin to break through this to live in an empowered way.
This is a powerful read which I’ve already recommended to numerous clients. Yet, I must take away one star (or heart) for this book because Molfino doesn’t explicitly discuss the trauma inherent to this programming. Trauma means “wound” and it is truly wounding to be told, repeatedly, throughout your life who you need to be as a women to be accepted by others.
This was a powerful oversight because it takes time to heal from trauma. It takes time integrate the lessons to truly overcome this and this is not your failure. Trauma healing is complex so please be compassionate and understanding with yourself as you complete this book. I anticipate through the reading of this book, you will integrate valuable new skills but if you still fall into these traps at times, that’s normal. To her credit, Molfino does emphasize it’s a journey to heal though.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram.
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