Five Steps to Overcome Your Cinderella Complex

I’m not happy with my weight; the last time I was happy with my weight was in 2004. I did a lot of research and there is a theme that I have come across that might help you as well. One reason I am very passionate about this topic is that it has bothered me almost all of my life. It started probably right when I left high school after my German “Abitur” at 19 years of age. I moved to the UK, where I was an Au-pair and put on five kilos in six months (I know the toast and English food was probably not the healthiest). The same happened when I moved to Australia when I moved to India when I moved to Switzerland, and again, it happened over the Pandemic and my broken foot incident in 2021. I always put on more and more weight. And believe me, this is hard for me. 

In 2004, I went through a separation and joined Weight Watchers. I went to Esprit and wanted to try on pants in a German size 42, but I was a size 38 then. I was still not a model, and in online dating, I got feedback that my weight was not in the proper range to be considered for a partnership (!), but for me, this was the best weight I have had in a long time. So, let’s say it took 14 years to get from what I would call a “dream body” back to an “acceptable body,” and for the last almost 20 years, I could not honestly say that I was happy with my weight. I never wanted to have my photo taken.

I usually lost weight when I went through a separation, and I put on weight while I was in a relationship. I also think stressful times like cultural adjustment, a death in the family, or a global Pandemic can trigger weight gain. I learned that weight gain could also be a sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  You can follow the “Crappy Childhood Fairy” for more related insights. 

Maybe You Suffer from Adverse Childhood Experiences

When I was a teenager, I experienced two traumatic experiences. The first one was that my parents separated when I was 13, and the second one was that my father and sister died in a car accident when I was 16. And I believe to date that this was the worst day of my life, and it could not go further down from there. Sometimes, I tell myself I had to be an adult at 16, and everything that followed was happening in survival mode until I completely turned my life around. This was the year we moved to Switzerland, and I started my coach training. I’m not saying that nothing wrong happened to me in my twenties, thirties, or forties, but honestly, these issues seemed small compared to adolescence. People who know me well might confirm that I usually have a lot of energy and a strong sense of purpose. I get up early, do my thing and many of my clients confirm that they are supported through our process together. If you want to understand more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) read this article. 

Maybe You Are Trapped in a Cinderella Complex

You might occasionally get hung up in a Cinderella Complex if you are a “creative daydreamer” like me (Check Joines, V. 2022 for further personality types). What is that? 

“What is the Cinderella Complex? The Cinderella complex is a hidden desire to be saved. Deep down you don’t want to be responsible for yourself, and fear independence. The term was made popular by author Colette Dowling back in the 1980s, when she published a book of the same name.”

So, when I was in a relationship with a man, I would probably expect that this man would change my life significantly. Whenever I ended a relationship, I felt more clarity on who I was and what I wanted to pursue. I’m now practicing to follow my passion and purpose irrespective of the relationships and dependencies in my life. It is easier now than in my 30ies because the idea of having children is no longer around. I feel I’m in the best phase of life ever, and more is yet to come. I have a sense of ownership of my life and work that I never had before. I can do even hard things like losing weight now (I have other ideas in the pipeline, but I don’t want to share them yet). It’s time to reap the rewards of past labor. 

I want to continue growing, learning, and self-improving, and I will continue to do what I recommend to you here. I will let you know once I have my dream body again. (It’s not there yet, but it’s a lot better than a year ago.)

1 – Seek a Group of Sisterhood

When we are going through a transition and would like to change or heal, we often have a harder time doing this alone. I recommend you seek a support group or enter a course to help you understand yourself better while others support you. Often, suppose you have been traumatized as a child. In that case, you will not have experienced the feeling of safety, and reproducing safety in your adult life will be key to integrating all aspects of your personality into your awareness. You can join a group with similar interests or seek a professional support group. Let me know if you want to join my group. I will start the next one after the summer break.

2 – Fast and Reduce your Clutter

If you are unsure where to start, reduce all your clutter and clean your home. I usually declutter at least twice a year, but last time, I did not go all in, and now I have more time on my hands again and feel I would like to take another go at de-cluttering. Fasting is also helpful, and you could think about fasting because of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and stress. For that, you first need to identify the stressors for you and find out what keeps your nervous system calm. You might be more sensitive to noise, smell, and light than others. Maybe you have a hard time focusing in an open-plan office environment. Or maybe you have a hard time being at home every day. Feel what you need to stay calm and at ease. I have finally found an excellent app called YAZIO. It helps my fasting process. Check “A to Zen Life” for related videos on Decluttering and Healing from Toxic Stress.


Five tips for decluttering before Christmas


3 – Apply one Minimalist Rule to Your Life

I was reminded how often I do this: “I will do x when y happened.” or “I will not do x until y happened.” I do this not only about not buying nice clothes, books, or other stuff but also about making decisions about relationships I know I should probably not engage in any longer. To overcome impulse buying, you might want to consider the “Wish Book.” Noting down wishes for the week also helps me to prioritize. If you feel you can’t afford an investment in something that would make you happy, you might need to trade it for something else. For example, you could sell an item before buying a new item. I like the minimalist rule of “One in, one out.” Or you could buy a piggy bank and sell items until you can afford that thing or piece of clothes or furniture.

A bird
my secret garden

4 – Tend to a Sacred Safe Space

One of the external stressors in your life could be that you have not yet developed healthy boundaries, and one way to practice that is by having a space in your home that you reserve for yourself or a small part of the garden that you tend and care for as your sacred space. You might also need to declutter relationships that no longer serve you. Add your style and artwork to the “sacred space.” Give it your signature touch. Make sure that other family members respect your space and don’t touch it.


5 – Develop a New “Me First” Work Routine

If you haven’t learned to set boundaries, chances are very high that you will always serve others first before you take care of your priorities. Over the long run, you might feel used and depleted. While it is okay to help others and be a giver, if you have been traumatized as a child, you will need to learn to stand up for yourself more and own your calendar at work. This is not always easy in the corporate world. Hence, I recommend starting with a baby step similar to the sacred space. Reserve 90 minutes in your calendar in the morning to work on your most important task of the day. Allow yourself not to be reachable and go to the gym or exercise before you do other work. These are five steps for overcoming your Cinderella complex. They will probably sound more accessible than they are. If you want to talk to me, schedule an appointment via Calendly:



Shahroo Izadi (2018): The Kindness Method – Changing Habits for Good

Dowling, C. (1981): The Cinderella Complex – Womens Hidden Fear of Independence –

Joines, V. (2022): Insight Out



One thought on “Five Steps to Overcome Your Cinderella Complex

  1. Pingback: Burnout in the Swiss Workplace

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