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November 19, 2023

The Good Girl Trap: Overcoming People-Pleasing for Women of Color

This week we get to connect with Ericka Ige. Ericka deserves to be highlighted for her dedication to destigmatizing the stigma around mental health, especially for people of color. Join Ericka in the conversation of people-pleasing and moving past the Nice Girl trap to Liberated Baddie!

Introducing Ericka Ige of Nice Girl Anonymous…

“I came to the realization that my habit of being overly nice was wreaking havoc on my life.”

As I hit the age of 30, my life underwent a monumental shift, presenting challenges that pushed me to grow as an individual. Here’s a brief overview of the obstacles I faced:

  • My mother-in-law moved in with my husband and me due to health reasons, altering my living situation, marriage dynamics, and peace of mind.
  • My marriage hit a rough patch, and divorce seemed imminent.
  • The stress led to the failure of my business, forcing me to take on multiple jobs.
  • Both my physical and mental health deteriorated significantly.

At one point, I found myself unsure of how my life would unfold, but I knew that my tendency to people-please played a significant role.

You might be wondering, “Why not just say no or set boundaries?” To understand this struggle, we need to delve into the roots of people-pleasing.

People Pleasing Is a Trauma Response:

It goes beyond mere niceness.

A people-pleaser prioritizes others’ needs over their own, often stemming from trauma. Sociotropy, as defined by the APA, is an excessive emphasis on relationships over personal independence, triggered by the fear of losing relationships or facing conflict.

While being agreeable, helpful, warm, and kind are positive traits associated with people-pleasers, it can lead to resentment, anxiety, stress, and emotional exhaustion. This behavior is learned and reinforced, typically beginning as a response to trauma.

Fawning: The 4th Trauma Response:

In response to overwhelming situations, individuals develop coping mechanisms. Fawning is one such response where people-pleasing behaviors emerge to avoid conflict, pacify abusers, and establish a sense of safety.

For survival, individuals merge with others’ wishes, needs, and demands, abandoning their own needs and seeking approval. Fawners may experience high levels of shame and guilt, feeling worthy only of conditional love.

You may be thinking I don’t think I’ve been through any really traumatic situations?

It’s important to remember it doesn’t have to be anything big.  It can simply come from interactions with meaningful people in your life that are unpredictable, confusing, and laden with conflict that can feel intolerable.

It’s most commonly associated with:

  • Growing up feeling responsible for the happiness/comfort of others
  • Unstable attachment to a caregiver leading to feeling as if you have to perform to earn love
  • Fear of abandonment based on the absence or death of a caregiver
  • Traumatic event(s) resulting in a stunted sense-of-self or buried self-worth

Why is it so important for you to know all of this? Because people often associate pleasing people as a personality trait. I value being a nice person. Well is it that you value that or were you conditioned to value it above all including your own needs?

My personal exploration of these emotions inspired the inception of my brand, Nice Girls Anonymous. Recognizing the intricate intersectionality of my identity as both a woman and a Black individual, played a pivotal role in my healing journey. Understanding this dual aspect has profoundly shaped how I addressed and overcame these challenges, fueling my commitment to assisting other women in their similar journeys.

Identifying the Struggles: The Nice Girl Trap for Women of Color

As a former Social Worker turned mental health advocate, I’ve witnessed the toll that unspoken expectations and the ‘Nice Girl’ trap take on women’s well-being, particularly women of color.

For women, particularly those of color, additional factors come into play. The intricate dance of relationships, societal pressures, and historical, racial, and gendered dynamics places a unique set of challenges on their shoulders, influencing their experiences in relationships and fostering the development of coping mechanisms that may not always be beneficial for their well-being.

As a Black Woman, the historical narrative often emphasizes a legacy of strength and resilience, leading society to expect black women to continually prioritize others’ needs. 

Navigating a double bind, we find ourselves facing demands for both assertiveness and nurturing qualities simultaneously. Deviating from this delicate balance can subject us to scrutiny, perpetuating the ‘Nice Girl’ archetype as a coping mechanism to navigate these conflicting expectations.

Furthermore, many of us were culturally raised to conform to certain norms to be perceived as feminine, respectable, and virtuous. This cultural expectation is evident in everyday pop culture sites like the Shade Room and Hollywood Unlocked.

Another crucial factor is the role of the Black Woman in the family unit. Historically, Black Women have shouldered multiple responsibilities within the Black family, often working to support their families when it was not the norm for their white counterparts. This resulted from the discrimination faced by Black men, leading to lower wages and requiring women to work for the family’s survival. These circumstances have created perceptions, biases, and stereotypes that persist, placing unspoken expectations on Black women to not only excel in work and academics but also to bear the emotional labor of their relationships.

In essence, we navigate life and relationships differently, contending with unique factors that contribute to self-neglect, negatively impacting our mental health and overall well-being.

The solution to overcoming this must be twofold. Breaking free from people-pleasing for women of color cannot solely address individual issues; it must be viewed holistically. Cultural success within the family unit is intricately tied to overall happiness, necessitating a comprehensive approach to navigate successfully.

This is why we’ve devised two distinct paths to address these challenges.

‘The Good Girl Rehab’ is your go-to program if you’re a single woman ready to break free from people-pleasing habits. Our People Pleasing Shift Method is designed to guide you through this transformative journey, offering concrete steps to empower you in living life on your terms. Here’s what the program will help you achieve:

Identify the Root Cause: Understand the core reasons behind your people-pleasing tendencies.

Unlearn Behaviors and Coping Skills: Let go of people-pleasing habits and the coping mechanisms that hold you back from feeling empowered in your own life.

Reset Your Identity: Cultivate self-love and confidence, embracing who you truly are.

Rebalance Your Relationships: Break free from power struggles, asserting control over your life, decisions, and communication.

Sustain Lasting Changes: Avoid a temporary fix; build enduring changes that will positively impact your life for years to come.

If you’re tired of being stuck in the ‘Nice Girl’ trap, ‘The Good Girl Rehab‘ is your pathway to reclaiming your authenticity and living a more empowered and confident life.

The Good Wife Rehab

Introducing ‘The Good Wife Rehab’—our upcoming program designed for engaged and married women who are eager to foster happier marriages through the cultivation of healthy boundaries and self-discovery. Here’s a sneak peek into what the program offers:

Improve Communication Skills: Say farewell to misunderstandings with expert tips on effective communication, enhancing connections with your spouse and navigating complex family dynamics.

Learn to Set Healthy Boundaries: Master the art of drawing lines, creating a love fortress that fosters lasting happiness and respect in your marriage.

Discover Yourself Outside Your Role: It’s not about losing yourself in the role of a wife. Uncover your unique identity, reignite your passions, and let your true self shine within your partnership.

Resolve Conflicts and Manage Family Dynamics: Bid farewell to unnecessary drama. Embrace productive conflict resolution strategies that bring you closer rather than driving you apart. Learn how to manage relationships with grace and confidence, especially when dealing with in-laws and extended family tensions.

Maintain a Thriving Marriage: Keep the flame burning bright with innovative date night ideas and rekindling techniques. Discover the recipe for marital bliss while being unapologetically you.

By joining ‘The Good Wife Rehab Waitlist,’ you’re not just investing in your marriage; you’re embracing a transformative journey that empowers you to create and sustain a joyful and fulfilling partnership. Join our waitlist to receive timely updates about the program’s release.

Nice Girls Anonymous serves as a beacon of hope, offering tailored programs to help women navigate the complexities of relationships and societal expectations. As we strive for healthier relationships, let us champion mental health for Black women, empowering them to be architects of their own fulfilling destinies.

To connect with Ericka, you can follow her journey here:

Hi, I'm Sunnie!

Web & brand designer, dog mama and a literal music junkie. The Sol Co. Blog is filled with life, business and design tips that are meant to help you, nurture you and remind you that you are in fact not alone on your journey. In fact, you’re doing amazing! As you continue to go on your journey, I hope that you’ll find this blog inspirational, relatable and enjoyable. 

If you’re interested in connecting to learn more about our web & brand design services, I’d love to chat with you!