Why do i intimidate others

6 Ways We Intimidate Others Without Realizing It

"The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain—he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem, he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills." —William Arthur Ward

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Hearing others tell us that they find us intimidating when we don't experience ourselves that way is an unsettling, self-alienating experience. I know. I've been there.

Thinking about intimidation is hard enough, let alone talking about feelings of being intimidating and intimidated by one another, in pairs or even groups. Intimidation has public and private faces, mirroring the internal divisions that threat creates within our own minds. And some people are more easily intimidated, all other factors being equal.

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On one hand, there may be a rush of pleasure, a sense of power. And yet at the same time, there can be pangs of piercing regret and shame over losing control. We recognize that if others are scared of us—if others expect that we may unexpectedly hurt them, or pressure them in unwelcome and distressing ways—we leave ourselves in a very lonely place, regardless of whether they stick around or not. If they stick around, we may feel relief and guilt; if they leave, we may feel relief and grief.

Being of the animal kingdom, it's wired into us to use a variety of displays of power in order to ensure our safety and status in the pack and further our goals. Not everyone is an apex predator or an alpha dog. But we are all tuned into where we stand with one another, with scant exceptions. Would you rather be timid or intimidating?

For some people, there's no problem if they feel that they're intimidating. They may really want to be intimidating, a different beast entirely from those who are intimidating without meaning to or realizing it. When people are inadvertently intimidating and have ambivalent feelings about the feedback they get, it is a more interesting situation to think about than when people are singularly being bullies, because inadvertent intimidation, the subject of the rest of this piece, suggests an unrecognized division within oneself, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr./Ms Hyde doubling driven by mutual unrecognition.

And gender plays into intimidation, of course. For example, research (Bolino and Turnley, 2003) found that managers rated female employees as less likable when the ladies were perceived as intimidating, but for the gentlemen, intimidation did not influence likeability. Not only that, but male employees who used intimidation were also deemed better performers, an effect not enjoyed by women.

Intimidated, Intimidating, Intimidation

To add complexity to the discussion, sometimes people, of course, are perceived as being intimidating, when in fact they really feel an entirely different way on the inside—vulnerable or scared in some way. When that happens, there is a big disconnect between the feedback we get from other people. The me I see through what others show me with their fearful words and behaviors is not the me I hold in my mind’s eye. We have trouble holding these two identities together, our psychological containment fails, and we rely on defensive behavior to maintain equilibrium if we are unable to make constructive use of such feedback (which is usually not given in an easy-to-take-in way, as the other person is speaking from a position of threat).

It's not unusual for this kind of disconnect to happen, and inadvertent intimidation comes up in several different ways, which are informative to spell out. If anyone has been in effective therapy for long enough or has the good fortune of being able to be self-reflective in constructive ways without therapy, we have a pretty good idea of the discrepancy between different versions of ourselves in the eyes of others and those versions of ourselves we can grasp internally. The more coherent our sense of self is, regardless of how multifaceted, the more in-line who we see ourselves to be is with how others appear to know us.

With this in mind, and with therapeutic whimsy as a form of whistling in the graveyard, let’s look at a few different ways that people may be unwittingly intimidating. From hiding oneself and creating a sense of apprehension in the other, to exercising a cold, penetrating intellect without seeming to understand how this may make others feel, to wielding status and power as a matter of habit, to avoiding competition and leading others to feel valueless, to being unaware of the impact of great beauty or charisma, to being vague and mystifying and creating confusion—and perhaps other ways I haven’t considered—we can seriously alienate others by intimidating them without even realizing it is happening, blindsided by the unintended consequences of our own actions.

1. We hide important parts of who we are from ourselves, but reveal them to others in our behavior without knowing it.

When we hide who we really are, this can create the impression in others that we are invulnerable. This, in turn, can lead to a variety of different responses, including envy, admiration, and a sense of uncanny strangeness as something important but undefinable just seems off. We can shift suddenly from one version of ourselves to another without realizing we are doing it, pivoting in emotional response to different “self-states” as conditions around us demand. Rather than having an overarching sense of our own multiplicity, in each singular self-state, we experience our momentary point of view as enduring and miss the inconsistency that others detect, fear, and judge.

People who do this may also come across as cryptic. They may believe they are being cryptic on purpose, but sometimes thinking something is on purpose is to cover over the fact that they can't help themselves from doing it, which in turn can be concealing the fact that they really are motivated to be cryptic, without clearly knowing their motivations.

2. We dissect others with the cold scalpel of raw intellect, feeling justified because we are right, or trying to help.

People who are razor-sharp and calculating, surrounding others with apparent hyperawareness, can be intimidating without meaning to be, just as people who are very attractive can be. Trying to do the right thing or to help out is a powerful, easily defended rationalization. We are, in fact, subject to the power of our own intellect against ourselves, as others are.

But for people who learned to prize intellect above compassion—where the quick comeback, even a sadistic retort, scores points, gives a rush of pleasure even while dismissing the validity of the injury to another—we deny how our words can really hurt. It’s not “just a joke,” but we tell ourselves it is. Competition and the need to win no matter what the stakes make it easy to hurl a clever quip, to lash out verbally, cornering and trapping, employing what classical psychoanalysts famously referred to as oral aggression. We don’t see that we are intimidating when we do this, because we don’t empathize with the injury we are causing. In the case of cutting humor, empathy ruins the joke. In the case of winning an argument at the expense of the relationship, empathy sours the tang of victory. This also applies to folks who are incredibly perceptive and observant. It's easy to feel like there is nowhere to hide.

3. We wield status and influence reflexively, unaware that other people are affected.

There are some people who are leaders or are in other positions of power, who must have a peculiar, implicit sense of deprivation or neediness, often with a side of frank grandiosity, which leads them by vague interpersonal influences to be surrounded by people who will fall all over themselves in order to please them. Like vampires, they are terribly weak and vulnerable, yet powerful and alluring at the same time. So strong is the fear of disapproval from these people, so strong is the wish that some of that glamour will rub-off (it never does), that we feel intimidated, fearful we will be destroyed or discarded if we fail to do their bidding. When such a person is disappointed or frustrated, they become hostile. For those of us who become attached to people with this kind of hostile dependency, we can be in the state of continually feeling intimidated. This one often goes hand-in-hand with the other ways of being intimidating.

4. I am not competing with you—I only compete with myself.

Often out of insecurity and unresolved emotional wounds, some people become emotionally stingy, without realizing it. They have great difficulty being generous with others and with themselves; this leads them to experience themselves as isolated from others. In a sense, they live in a barren inner world, and other people aren’t really real. In order to fend off the vast existential void of isolation, they created variations of themselves and measure themselves against these versions. They can’t compete with others, because there is no one there, and the most consistent narrative is self-competition. They don’t recognize that the standards they use to measure themselves are given by society in the first place. You can’t really only compete with yourself, so doing so requires significant self-deception. They may not feel it toward others, but others often experience them as not only aloof but arrogant. The feeling of superiority creates, in those who remain in relationships with self-competers, a feeling of ongoing intimidation due to the sense of being always at risk of abandonment, combined with the feeling of never being good enough. When these feelings of humiliation are shared with self-competers, they are quickly dismissed, justified by a facile moral argument, amplifying the distance between themselves and others.

5. We deny the impact of our appeal to others.

Some people are born lucky—not that it doesn't take hard work, too—or are seemingly lucky because being very attractive, whether physically beautiful, intellectually gifted, famous, wealthy, sexy, talented, charismatic, or what have you, can indeed be a burden to those so touched. Imagine having to fend off zombie-legions of would-be fans, and people trying to use your value for their own gain. It is also not easy for those who are particularly comely to believe it or fully appreciate how other people around them respond. This kind of dubious-yet-authentic naïveté is disorienting.

People are intimidated by aura, because we may feel or assume that we won't be good enough for the other person, because of pure animal magnetism, or awe. When attraction is so powerful, intimidation can be at the heart of the bond, the balance between attraction and repulsion setting the terms of the relationship. Sexuality causes biopsychological reactions which are beyond control, turning us into mere meat puppets—if only momentarily. That sounds intimidating even as I say it.

6. We come across as mystifying and mesmerizing.

What happens when a charismatic figure does things which hit hard, but don’t make a lick of sense? Is there some wisdom we do not grasp, or are we just susceptible to BS (Pennycook et al., 2015)? This can be awe-inspiring and fearsome, drawing out our deepest insecurities with the promise of respite within the secure demesne of the other, and also a never-ending tension of unrequited desire for more, risking the ecstasy of forever frustrated gratification. The mind of this person is not only hidden, but the presentation of self is, itself, enigmatic, impenetrable, impregnable. We are but chaff in the wind faced with such transcendence.

With high-enough doses of guru magic, it becomes hard to think, and we can lose sight of the path. This can happen in corporate settings, with would-be healers, con artists, and any number of other relationships. Interestingly, it is often family members who see right through the obfuscation, because they know who they really are. People who are intimidating in this way may or may not be fully aware of it. It’s hard to tell.

Although I don't think it is quite the same, hence no #7, we can feel something superficially akin to, yet I think fundamentally different from, intimidation when we meet people who have truly overcome great hardship to arrive at a better place. We can feel many feelings: admiration, awe, empathy, competitiveness, and so on. But there isn't usually a sense of feeling unsafe, as is more common with how we usually think of intimidation, and the sense of induced inner conflict isn't there. Quite the contrary, in fact (at least speaking for myself), we usually feel somehow safer in the presence of such people, even if we don't want to spend too much time with them for various reasons.

Don't Tell Anyone About This, Or Else

Intimidation can be hard to make sense of, because of the strongly evoked feelings and societal constraints we have to muddle through, although breakthroughs are happening every day. Is this person being intimidating on purpose? We have to decide how to attribute other people’s behavior to figure out who we are in relation to them. If intimidation is intentional, it’s out in the open, it’s on. Someone is trying to take advantage of us, and how we respond when we feel that way is a fascinating subject for another day perhaps.

When intimidation is implicit, whether fully unconscious or flickering at the edge of awareness, an itch we can’t scratch, intimidation is most powerful. Outside of awareness, intimidation exerts a near-hypnotic effect, pulling our strings from the bottom-up, neurobiologically speaking, as deep brain systems wired for survival sound an alarm we don’t know we are hearing. Unconscious fear shapes our perceptions and behaviors, and we take steps to ensure safety, which may have repercussions that we are not taking into consideration.

The social pressure to pretend intimidation isn’t happening leads to a bystander effect in which terrible things happen, as we are so sadly and painfully learning again and again. When we are able to symbolize intimidation, both in the moment personally and on more collective levels, we can change the course of history.

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Why are people intimidated by me? 19 Reasons

As much as well-intentioned people try to create an equal society, it simply cannot happen. People organize themselves into status hierarchies wherever they are. Some people are more valuable and, therefore, higher in status than others.

What determines who is valuable/high status and who isn’t?

You and I don’t make these rules. It’s not up to governments, political parties, or judicial bodies to decide who’s high status and who isn’t.

Thanks to millions of years of evolution, these rules have been passed down to us in our genes.

People who possess qualities that can enhance their chances of survival and reproductive success are valuable members of any society. A rising tide usually lifts all boats. Highly valuable members of a society are more likely to improve the odds of survival and reproduction of other members.

For instance, a millionaire entrepreneur can employ hundreds of people and provide them with a means of livelihood.

Hence, society values and gives high status to these people. And it happens unconsciously and automatically.

People don’t usually look at a successful person and go like:

“Okay, this guy has worked hard for his success. He’s benefitting not only himself but many others around him. Therefore, he’s a high-status person.”

No, they instantly see successful people as high status.

Our ancestors needed to figure out who was high in status quickly. Because by associating with those people, they could gain essential benefits. They couldn’t afford to waste time thinking if the high-status people were self-made or not. Or how they got access to resources. It didn’t matter.

As a result, people today have become status-detecting machines. They can deduce the status of a person from minimal information. Sometimes, just by their looks. For instance, ‘if someone is well-dressed, they must be high-status’ is a judgment we all tend to make.

Status gap and intimidation

If humans are status-detecting machines, they’ll inevitably compare their status with those they come across. People have a strong need to know where they lie in the status hierarchy of society. And the best way to do that is through social comparison.

When there’s a vast status gap between the observer and the observed, the observed being of higher status creates feelings of intimidation in the observer. The observer feels inferior, and their insecurities are awakened.

Why intimidation, though? Why not any other feeling?

For a long time in human evolutionary history, status hierarchies have essentially been dominance hierarchies. As is true for most animals today, the way to rise in status is to exert dominance.

Of course, when you’re dominating someone, you’re intimidating them. When they become timid, they’re more likely to comply. The whole purpose of domination is to make others comply.

So, intimidation is a natural response to being dominated.

The thing is, in modern human societies, dominance can be exerted in a variety of ways. Hence, there are several ways in which humans feel intimidated. This article will later list almost all of those ways.

The critical thing to remember is that all dominance-intimidation human interactions revolve around survival and reproduction.

When one human tries to dominate another, they’re essentially saying:

“I’m better at surviving and reproducing than you.

When you intimidate others but don’t mean to

People who don’t understand what we’ve been discussing so far are often confused when they realize they’ve been intimidating others:

“But I wasn’t trying to intimidate him.”

That’s the thing about intimidation: You don’t have to actively intimidate others, even though you can (e.g. showing off). People get intimidated automatically when they notice a huge status gap between them and you- when they deem you better than them in an evolutionarily-important area.

For instance, when you become successful, you may want to share the good news with family and friends. You think, being your well-wishers, they’d rejoice in your victories. You’re unaware or forget that they’re status-detecting machines. Anything you do that makes them look bad compared to you will intimidate them.

When people show off, they’re deliberately trying to intimidate others. Internally, they’re like:

“Hey! Look! I’m better than you. Haha.”

This gives them a rush- a feeling of being powerful. It makes them feel superior. Like they’ve crushed other people.

And yes, other people do feel crushed. Feeling inferior is one of the worst feelings one can experience. This is why many well-meaning people advise avoiding social media, which is a hub for status displays.

While you may get a kick by making others feel inferior, you have to realize that by doing so you’re also alienating them. You’re highlighting the status gap between you and them. You’re communicating:

“We’re not equals.”

This is why people don’t like braggarts and tend to stay away from them. No one wants to feel intimidated constantly.

Intimidation and admiration go hand in hand

You have to admire someone to feel intimidated by them. Give me a list of all the admirable qualities you have and it will be a list of all the ways you intimidate people.

Intimidation turns to inspiration when people believe they too can become admirable. Intimidation turns to jealousy when people don’t believe they too can become admirable.

Reasons people are intimidated by you

The following list will help you understand why you’ve been, intentionally or unintentionally, intimidating people. I’ll briefly explain why each reason is intimidating.

1. You’re good-looking

Physical attractiveness is one of the strongest factors that helps a person attract a mate and reproduce. Society values reproducing members more than non-reproducing members. So, good looks equal high status.

2. You’re successful

Success, in any shape or form, shows people you’re a capable person. You have the ability to accomplish your goals. A lot of people lack that ability. Success of any kind places you ‘above’ a lot of people.

3. You’re famous

The more followers you have, the higher your status. If you’re loved and respected by many, you’re a celebrity. Perhaps celebrities are called ‘stars’ because they’re so high above the common folk, like stars in the sky.

Looks, success, riches, and fame skyrockets your status.

4. You’re strong

Physically as well as mentally. Displaying physical strength is the ancient, animalistic way to exert dominance. People can’t help but feel intimidated by big and physically strong people. Mental strength seems more attainable than physical strength. So, it tends to evoke more admiration than intimidation.

5. You’re intelligent

One way to display dominance is by showing intellectual superiority. In modern times, might isn’t always right. People can significantly raise their status and gain access to resources by being intelligent.

6. You’re wise

Wisdom is a rare quality and is only gained after years and years of experience. Being wise raises your status because people value wisdom. If you’re wise, people listen to you, and you can help many people.

7. You’re rich

When you’re rich, you have what people desperately need- access to resources. Since being resourceful helps men more with reproductive success than it helps women, men are more intimidated by rich men than women.

8. You’re confident

Confident people are liked, admired, and respected. When people sense you’re more confident than them, intimidation is inevitable.

9. You’re independent

Independent people are more likely to become leaders. They don’t follow anyone. They get followers. Being an independent thinker attracts followers like bees to nectar.

10. You’re charismatic

Being charismatic is a common quality of successful leaders. Charisma comes down to the ability to genuinely express how you feel. Few people can pull that off. So, it’s a valuable trait to have.

11. You’re knowledgeable

To figure out what traits and qualities society values, you sometimes have to look at how people devalue others. One way people do that is by saying something like:

“Oh! You know nothing.”

What they’re really saying is:

“Your lack of knowledge makes you low status. I can’t take you seriously.”

Knowledge is power, and power is status. Knowledge can help a person help themselves and others. In our modern knowledge-based economy, knowledge is more valuable than ever.

Similarly, if you use big words, you can come across as intimidating. You’re showing you know more and better words than them. Being a Grammar Nazi is another way to display intellectual dominance.

12. You have positive personality traits

Positive personality traits like courage, altruism, honesty, decency, and modesty can also intimidate people. It sounds counter-intuitive because we’re taught to cultivate these traits all our lives.

It’s a rude awakening for many when they put in a lot of effort to develop these traits, only to find that they’re intimidating people with these traits. People are more concerned about their status than pleasantness in others’ personalities.

13. You’re masculine

A man having masculine traits threatens men who don’t have such characteristics. They’re better able to attract women. Tallness, broad shoulders, and deep voice can trigger intimidation. So can masculine personality traits like ambition and aggression.

Feminine men can be intimidating for a different reason. They’re strange and give people the willies.

14. You’re feminine

More feminine women have more power than less feminine women. So, more feminine women have a higher status in society. They’re better able to attract men. A beautiful, feminine woman can intimidate women as well as men.

Masculine women can be intimidating for the same reason as feminine men do. They’re different and violate people’s expectations.

15. You’re too different

Feminine men and masculine women intimidate people because they’re too different from ordinary people.

People find strange and unfamiliar people and objects intimidating. This tendency is deep-rooted in humans and probably has its evolutionary roots in our reptilian brains. Reptiles use smell to detect genetically unrelated reptiles.

We rely more on our visual systems to detect genetically unrelated people. This is the mechanics behind racism, nationalism, prejudice, and discrimination:

“People who’re not like us are unrelated to us and therefore a threat.”

This applies not only to looks but also to personality. If you have a unique personality, people get intimidated and have a hard time thinking about you as one of them.

16. You’re healthy

The most important thing for your survival is your health. If you’re in shape and eat healthy, you can intimidate others.

First, you’re doing something they want to do but won’t or can’t. Second, health-conscious people are rare in our society, to the point that they come across as strange.

People say, “He’s health conscious” as if not being health conscious is the normal, sane thing to do.

17. You have a social life

We’re social species and crave human companionship. Some more than the others. But we all do. If you have a decent social life, it can intimidate those who don’t.

18. You have hobbies

How dare you take the time to enjoy hobbies? How dare you take time out for yourself and your mental health?

Many people don’t pay attention to their physical health, let alone mental health. They’re overworked and overstressed. They wish they could develop a hobby too but don’t make time for it.

19. You travel a lot (and further)

People use traveling as a way to display status. It’s becoming increasingly common thanks to the proliferation of photo and video-sharing social media platforms.

The weird thing about using traveling as a status display is that the further you travel from your hometown, the higher your status.

You could have a wonderful location 5 miles from your home with everything you need to relax. But no, that’s not worth showing off. What’s worth showing off are far away and exotic locations.

When you travel to faraway locations, you’re indirectly showing that you had a lot of resources (money and time) to spend, so it’s a more high-status thing to do.

Hanan Parvez( Author )

Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur.

5 tips on how not to raise a child angry at the whole world

Perhaps every kind and sensitive parent would like to raise the same kind and attentive child. Psychologist Yana Filimonova gives advice on how to teach a child empathy and explain where the line is between good (helping those in need) and bad (participating in bullying).

1. Do not intimidate or respond with aggression to aggression

When parents respond to a child's aggressive behavior with retaliatory aggression, this only frightens him and does not provide any alternative example of behavior. "The girl in the sandbox didn't give me her mold - and I gave her a dustpan over the head." Or "I hit the girl - and my mother yelled at me and hit my hands." There is only one scheme: objectionable behavior is a violent reaction. A child can hardly analyze this, but no positive example will definitely appear in his head.

Therefore, leave the shouting, poking and phrases like: "Once again I will see how you drag the cat by the tail - and I will also drag you by the ear. " You should not bite a child in response to attempts to bite an older brother or dad. Sounds crazy, but some parents think it's a good way: "Show him what it's like." Actually it doesn't work. Yes, the child learns that being bitten hurts. But a similar act of mom or dad will show him that such behavior is acceptable. The one who is larger in size and bites last is right. A very small child can simply be stopped with the words “You can’t do this.” And it is already possible to explain to a three-five-year-old that a cat does not like being dragged by its tail, and it hurts a brother if you bite him on the nose. And, most likely, neither the brother nor the cat will want to play with him after that - but it's a shame, right?

2. Give an example from personal experience (you can even compare the child to another)

Nobody wants to play with one girl on the playground because she is weird. Or be friends with a new student in the class, because he didn’t like him for some reason on the first day. How to explain to a daughter or son that rejected children are bad, and how to convince them to take a step forward? You can't force people to make friends and communicate.

In such a situation, a good way out is to remind the child of a similar example from his experience. Was he once new in an unfamiliar team, upset that no one wants to be friends with him. Ask him how he felt at that moment. Maybe other people are feeling the same way now. “Remember how you came to the theater studio and didn’t know anyone there? Worried that no one will make friends with you? And how happy were you when Misha and Masha invited you to play? What do you think: maybe the new boy who came to your class now feels the same way?

3. Never take things from a child

Even for the benefit of those in need, and even those things that the child no longer uses (does not play, does not read, does not wear). To deprive a child of personal property is a great trauma. When an old bear can be taken away from you at any moment (let your son or daughter not play with him for a long time), a doll or a designer, a feeling of insecurity and distrust arises. And it’s useless to explain in hindsight: “Your little sister really liked the construction set, but you don’t play it anymore, so I gave it away. Well, why are you crying?"

4. Invite the child to make his own decision

How to develop in a child the ability to share and compassion for those who are less fortunate in life? Tell the story in a way your child can understand. For example, this one: “You see, little Misha’s dad recently lost his job, and Misha’s family now has very little money. For example, his mom and dad can't buy toys for him now. And he has a birthday soon. Can you imagine how sad it is not to receive anything as a birthday present? Do you think maybe we could give Misha some of the toys that you grew out of? Which ones could you give him?"

This approach, firstly, allows the child to choose what things he is ready to part with, collect them and say goodbye to them - children become attached to their favorite toys and books. Perhaps he wants to sleep with the plush tiger for the last time before he goes to live in a new house, or re-read the story about Bambi again. Secondly, this is a great opportunity to make the child feel generous, mature and able to help someone. It turns out that giving is also pleasant - maybe even more pleasant in some way than receiving.

5. Teach your child to recognize his own feelings

Teach your child to recognize emotions. This is important not only for his psychological well-being, but also for successful socialization. To very young children, parents, pointing to parts of the body, say: “This is a hand, this is a leg, this is a nose.” You should do the same with emotions, explain to a frightened, angry and offended child: “You are scared. You are angry. You offended". The older the child becomes, the more complex shades of emotions he can distinguish: embarrassment, confusion, indignation, sadness, nostalgia, curiosity. Do not hesitate to discuss these complex feelings with your child, tell him about your own, make assumptions about the feelings of other people: “Perhaps Petya said this out of embarrassment?” In order to somehow digest what is happening inside and cope with it without offending other people and without making hasty decisions, you must at least be able to name your emotions.

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Stop being a "good girl"! | PSYCHOLOGIES


Know Yourself

Do you suffer from the Good Girl Syndrome?

  • Are you worried about offending someone or disturbing someone?
  • Do you take pride in always thinking of others and being ready to help (even when it is very inconvenient for you)?
  • Were you called a “good girl” (or “good boy”) as a child?
  • Are you a perfectionist? Always striving to achieve more?
  • Do you always have to finish all the work before you allow yourself to relax or have fun?
  • Do you find it difficult to stand up for yourself or ask for what you want?
  • Do you always adhere to the rules (even small ones: never be late, never jump in line, never run red lights)?
  • Do you tend to please others, are you uncomfortable with conflicts, are you afraid to disappoint or offend?
  • Do you want stability and predictability and are afraid of unexpected changes?
  • Are you super responsible - always organizing, tracking and scheduling everything?
  • Do you kind of recognize yourself in Hermione Granger from Harry Potter?

Is it bad to be "good"?

Of course, at first glance, the desire to please others is a very commendable quality. But everything is somewhat more complicated. Here is a short quote from my latest book, it concerns those who are used to pleasing others:

“Most of us have been taught to be accommodating and condescending, to think about the feelings of others and help them in difficult times. These are wonderful qualities. But, if self-esteem is directly dependent on how much we are able to bring joy to others, we will constantly neglect our needs, trying to please others. The opinions and values ​​of others will become more important to us than our own.”

We cannot always neglect our own needs for the sake of others. We need to take care of ourselves. To do this, it is important to respect your needs and be able to say “no” sometimes. If you only give, you will eventually have nothing left for yourself, you will be exhausted, you will begin to feel bad and offended by the whole world.

The role of a good girl forces one to succumb and avoid risk

Another problem of “good girls” (or “boys”) is that this role limits in many ways, does not allow to be completely oneself.

This role creates a sense of security—it seems to protect against criticism, rejection, conflict, and failure. And this is true if we try to stay small and inconspicuous and always do what others want us to do. This way, we are less likely to experience conflict, rejection, criticism, and failure. But at the same time, we limit ourselves immensely.

  • We don't allow ourselves to try new things (especially if we might fail or be dissatisfied).
  • We are silent when we are rude, when we have new ideas, when we do not agree with the general opinion.
  • We do a lot out of a sense of duty to meet other people's expectations, and not because we ourselves want to do it.
  • All the time we demand from ourselves to be perfect, good, correct. And when we do not succeed (which inevitably happens with such unrealistic requirements), we criticize ourselves ruthlessly.
  • The role of a good girl forces us to obey the rules and expectations of others and give up a lot of ourselves (ideas, beliefs, goals, interests and values).
  • Afraid of being judged, afraid of not being good enough, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of being rejected.

How to get rid of the “good girl syndrome”?

Thoughts and actions are largely dependent on subconscious beliefs and deeply rooted patterns of behavior. In order to change, it is very important to first realize what is happening to us. If you want to change something in yourself, you need to understand what exactly you are doing and why. Not in order to criticize yourself, but in order to realize how you can think and act differently.

If you find yourself behaving like a typical "good girl" (or "good boy"), ask yourself a few questions and see if you see any alternative. Can you make other decisions that are close to your real self?

  • Am I meeting my needs and wants?
  • Am I true to myself?
  • Am I doing this out of duty or because I want to?
  • What do I want?
  • How important is it to me what this person thinks of me?
  • What seems right to me?
  • Can I express opinions and ideas kindly and politely?
  • How hard do I take someone else's disapproval?
  • What will happen if I stop controlling myself so tightly?
  • If I allow myself to have a little more fun and take risks, can it do me any good?
  • If I decide to stand up for myself, how will others react? Will they really hate me, turn away, start “putting me in my place” or am I just intimidating myself?
  • Can I try to remember that conflicts are normal and usually do not lead to catastrophic consequences?
  • Do I want to associate with people who do not appreciate me for who I am?
  • What will happen if I play the role of a “good girl” (or “good boy”) all my life?
  • Do I have the right to do something exclusively for myself?
  • Should I "earn" my sense of self-worth by pleasing and helping others?
  • Can I be kinder to myself in this situation?
  • What do I believe? What is important to me?

Taking more risks, setting personal boundaries, and putting your needs first will not make you selfish.

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