April 12, 2024

The Aftermath of Good Girl Conditioning: 5 Steps to Moving toward Shameless Wanting.

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It’s always too late when you realize that taking crumbs has led you to a dead end.

It’s when you stand in the concert’s audience crowd alone because they’re finally sorry but they couldn’t make it at the last minute.

It’s when you text your friend crying to pick you up at the train station because they just cancelled your weekend together due to an unexpected emergency at work.

It’s when they know you’re driving fast after knowing your parent has been admitted to the hospital, but they text three days later to say “I hope everything is okay.”

It’s when you see them after some time apart and they open the door while speaking on the phone with a friend they see every day to discuss their next sporty adventure for the next 25 minutes while you patiently wait for them to greet you.

It’s when you have been seeing each other once a week and then once every 10 days and then once every two weeks and now no news since three weeks ago.

Women I coach dare—and are warriors—in many different ways. They can be:

>> Marching the streets to defend their rights

>> Successful in their career

>> Thriving at conscious parenting

>> Travelling the world

>> Highly creatives

>> Building long-lasting friendships, or

>> Reinventing their life after hard-core transitions, and so on.

If you live one or several of these situations, you know it requires courage. Choices are made, difficult conversations happen, and adaptation to change is necessary.

It is strange to think this can coexist with taking crumbs in the context of a romantic relationship.

But often it does.

From the beginning, accepting crumbs feels like ass; there’s a yucky sensation linked to it. Whether our heart feels heavy as if it’s falling from our chest down to our feet, our throat tightening, or anxiety is creating a cloud in our upper body and brain, our body is communicating to us “this doesn’t feel right.”

So why don’t we listen?

Because in between these accurate body signals and how we act, there is a sneaky thought that says:

“I don’t want to sound needy.”

We feel shame wash over our body only thinking about it. And this sensation of shame feels worse than the first set of “taking crumbs sensations.”

Shame is the emotion/sensation of the risk of being laughed at, judged, criticized, put down, or ignored. To make it short, the threat is to be ostracised, and it’s scary.

On the other hand, and paradoxically, I bet it feels okay for us to state “I want to be in a relationship where my needs are being met.”

So what’s the difference? It’s simple; it’s a question of perspective and what we prioritize with our attention.

“I want my needs to be met” comes from our core; it’s a desire.

“I don’t want to be needy” comes from us jumping into someone else’s head and accommodating in advance their inability to show up for us.

Why would we do that?

Because it’s the aftermath of good girl conditioning. For millennia, to be safe (aka married), a woman had to display all the qualities showing she would be at disposal—for her husband, family, and society.

You might condemn that intellectually. But it can stay wired in our nervous system because of the multiple messages (said or unsaid) transmitted through our family, culture, stories, movies, series, magazines, and so on.

If like me you grew up in the 80s, “Sex and the city” or “Bridget Jones”—which appeared modern and funny—still depicted women desperate for love. How many male characters have you seen on screen desperate for love?

The “needy woman” is always ridiculed for needing love and attention.

Love and attention are what we all crave. It’s simply one of our most basic survival needs. It’s at the same level compared to food, water, and the air we breathe. We might have read about this awful experiment where babies were separated from their parents, touch deprived, and died.

Love and attention are that essential; it’s in our physiology to want them.

Women were deprived from desiring—from wanting what’s essential—to accommodate others.

It’s so ingrained. I see it when I ask my clients what they want; 90 percent of them tell me what they don’t want.

Wanting—needing—feels dangerous for our nervous system. How we know it is through this feeling of shame rising with the idea of showing we have needs. Shame is the internal police protecting us from a mammal worst fear: being alone.

That’s where I insist that “I don’t want to be needy because it’s a bad thing” is a thought error. On one hand, it feels so true because of the feeling of shame coming from coping with this ancient conditioning. On the other hand, settling for less almost never serves us at the end. Quite the contrary.

I haven’t seen a woman so far who is “too needy,” who wants love and attention so much that it’s harmful or unbearable for others. But I have seen a lot of women silencing their needs to the benefits of others. I think “I am too needy” is a silent agreement with the patriarchy that we won’t disturb the status quo—a sneaky thought that makes us accept the crumbs and give our power away.

Being aware of it is the first essential step to undo that wiring in our system. Then we can deepen.

Here are a few steps to move toward shameless wanting:

1. Gather evidences. Have an honest look at the results in your life from accepting crumbs. I bet the coping mechanism “I pretend I don’t need anything” is the one that has led to more isolation (compared to sticking with “I am not asking because I’ll appear too needy”).

2. Remember that this coping mechanism is actually the perfect antidote to building intimacy. Intimacy is built on reciprocity, which is pretty much being vulnerable enough to display that we need each other.

3. Address all what comes up when you consider this: “I am willing to show I need love and attention.” Tend to your nervous system during this process to write that new story in your body for good.

4. Notice this unconscious strategy. Even if you have never clearly thought “I am afraid to appear too needy,” there is a specific cue showing that this belief is lingering in your system anyway.

 5. Ask; don’t complain. Complaining isn’t that efficient because most of the times, people won’t put themselves in our shoes and guess. But it feels safer than going directly for what we want. Being able to leave the complaints behind and alchemize them into powerful asks to get what we want will require to process all the emotions rising. This can be accelerated with the help of a professional.

And keeping in mind this Mae West’s quote, “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”


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