The Inner Cage of the Good Girl Archetype

I have spent the last decade of my life on a quest: a quest to unearth and claim my WILD. As I wrote in my story about moving back to the ‘burbs, the first half of my quest was a hero’s journey. It was all about escaping the external cages. 

In that first five years I went to health coaching school. Met my husband. Left my corporate job. Started a full-time coaching business. Moved to a different state. Made new friends. Started new hobbies. Read voraciously about other’s journeys of reclaiming their wild feminine. 

All in this effort to find this elusive wildness and freedom that I so longed for. 

It wasn’t until I escaped all the external cages and still didn’t feel wild that the true journey began: the journey of acknowledging and dismantling the inner cage. The cage that I took with me wherever I went. The cage that didn’t care whether I worked 9 to 5 in an office or worked from home and set my own hours. The cage that stayed with me regardless of who I was hanging out with or what I was doing. The real cage that held me back from the freedom I most wanted to feel. 

So what exactly is that inner cage? And how do we go about dismantling it?

Over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you what I have discovered based upon my own journey and the journeys of the women I have been honored to work with these past five years. 

The Good Girl

At its core, the inner cage is when we become trapped in a way of being, a persona, that does not honor the totality and wholeness of who we are as human beings. It is when we unconsciously play a part rather than being our true selves. The ways of being or archetypes that I work with most often are the Good Girl, the Rebel, and the Tyrant King. 

If you are familiar with my work, you might recognize the Good Girl, as this is one of the main patterns or energies that I have been working to shed in my own life. But let me give you a little refresher! Just who is the Good Girl and how does she show up?

  • As the name implies, the Good Girl longs to be, and be seen as, “good”
  • The label of goodness can only be bestowed upon us from “out there”, meaning that we are constantly looking for external validation to show us that we are good enough, and for this reason…
  • The Good Girl is very focused on how other people see her
  • She is a people pleaser
  • As a father’s daughter, the Good Girl is an achiever, constantly setting goals and crushing them without pausing to think whether the goals are actually her own (therefore even achieving them feels empty)
  • She is uncomfortable with conflict and has a hard time speaking up for herself or communicating her authentic needs and wants directly (this can lead to resorting to passive aggressive ways of getting her needs met)
  • The Good Girl complies in order to be accepted
  • She has a hard time saying “No”
  • She believes that she has to choose between herself and her relationships, and she always chooses her relationships because that is what it means to be good (choosing herself would make her selfish and therefore bad)

You can begin to see how identifying with the Good Girl can be a trap. We are so worried about how others will see us that we are afraid to color outside of the lines. We morph and shift and chameleon ourselves according to others’ standards. We will play the martyr, turning away from our own dreams and desires in order to be who other people need us to be, only to grow increasingly resentful and frustrated with them. Many of our relationships feel hollow because we are afraid to bring our full selves to the table. We bury and hide the pieces of ourselves and our feelings that stand in contrast to our goodness: our darkness, our rage, and our power. 

You might be under the spell of the Good Girl if you have a really hard time saying no. If sharing an unpopular truth sticks in your throat and refuses to come out. Your boundaries are pretty much non-existent. If you have a running list in your head of what you should be doing at any given time. 

Next week, I am going to share about the Good Girl’s shadow sister: the Rebel. If the Good Girl reaches for the light, the Rebel relishes in the dark. Where the Good Girl complies, the Rebel defies. Though they look completely different on the outside, they are actually two sides of the same coin. Because as Glennon Doyle shares in Untamed, “Rebellion can be as much of a cage as obedience.”

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