Coming to Grand Island with NO Girly Thoughts

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD
@drogorman
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www.patriciaogorman.com

Have you ever gotten something really wrong? Have you ever based your conclusions on little fact and many feelings, and as a result you painted a truly erroneous picture for yourself of what you were dealing with?

I know I have, and recently.

My latest error didn’t begin with misunderstanding a Facebook post, or by reading too much into a quizzical look from a neighbor. No, it began with an invitation to speak to a group on the subjects of trauma and addiction, and to do an evening presentation for women on girly thoughts.

How did I feel? This invitation made me happy! So far so good—but I had never heard of the location: Grand Island, Nebraska . . . and this is where I made a mistake. I did what many of us do: I filled in my lack of information with my fantasies.

Using Fantasies Instead of Reality

And such fun fantasies I had. The “island” in the name conjured images for me of the Caribbean, or Nantucket, beautiful islands in the sea. But I knew there was no sea in the middle of our country (at least I got that right). I thought maybe there is a lake with a small island in it. Yes, in this small town, there is a lake with a little island in it. I thought, How sweet. I pictured the people of this prairie community as so optimistic for wanting an island, for naming their town not just any ole’ island name, but Grand Island.

I was so wrong. Not only is Grand Island not a quaint small town, but it is a major metropolitan area— in fact, it’s the third-largest city in the state! And it is on an island in a very large river!

But my whole inner process began my process of thinking about how easy it is to jump to conclusions about so many things, from geography to our girly thoughts.

Girly Thoughts = Major Wrong Assumptions

Years ago, I heard the expression, When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me; making assumptions is easy to do, yet so harmful. So don’t do this with your girly thoughts. Instead:

  • call them out for what they are—a toxic self-talk.
  • jot down which girly thoughts keep coming to mind so you can figure out how to target these girly thoughts in particular.
  • help your friends identify their girly thoughts.

Coming to Grand Island to Speak About Girly Thoughts, and Trauma + Addiction

Yes, I’ll be in Grand Island on April 30, and hope you can join me. For more information, visit my website: www.patriciaogorman.com.

Next stops:

  • Grand Island, NE: April 30, I’ll be giving a workshop on “Trauma” from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and a speech over dinner titled “Girly Thoughts” from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • New York City, NY: May 17, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. “The Big Apple: Leadership and Girly Thoughts.”
  • Worchester, MA: June 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “Girly Thoughts and Addiction”
  • Lake Placid, NY: July 11, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Book signing at Bookstore Plus

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

Front Page News and No Girly Thoughts

by

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

@drogorman

Have you ever been on the front page of your local newspaper? I don’t mean as a cute baby in the Easter Parade, or for having committed some terrible crime, or for being awarded a prestigious prize, but as an adult, and just because you were happy?

I was, and here’s the proof:

patricia o'gorman - maple syrup

Weird, huh?

A Dream Fulfilled

Well, that was me a week ago. It all began so innocently, while I was on a mission to fulfill one of my fantasies. Now, we all have dreams, but for me (and perhaps for you), that’s what many of them have stayed: dreams. But then . . .

A Sweet Experience

As I was chatting on the street during what passes for spring in the Adirondacks, a snow shower—yes, it snows with the sun peaking out periodically, and we all get giddy because, well, there’s some sun—I mentioned to a friend that I would love to be in a maple syrup tasting. For those of you who don’t know, I have a massive sweet tooth. And I love to cook. I have long thought that different maple syrups have different tastes, but I’ve never put in the energy to line up a couple and, well, sip.

That’s when my friend told me of a tasting at the Lake Placid Conference Center the next day.

Caught on Camera

I happily entered the great hall and made a beeline for the maple syrup tasting, smiling politely to the food vendors as I almost jogged to my goal. I was a woman on a mission.

Once there, I found eight different syrups, all portioned in one-teaspoon servings, all for the tasting, and we could even vote for the one we liked the best.

It was so exciting. I was surprised by the taste of almond in one, a deep caramel aftertaste in another, more bitterness in a third, and too much sweetness in a fourth. Since I had to cast my vote, I took this very seriously, savoring each encounter, all with a huge smile on my face.

Along came a reporter and began asking if he could take pictures of me and my fellow tasters. We all agreed.

But Wait—Am I Ready for This?

Suddenly, a girly thought popped into my mind. Yes, like you, I have internalized these corporate images of beauty into a swirly negative self-talk. I thought:

  • I’m not wearing any makeup.
  • I’m wearing my glasses.
  • I’m warm because I haven’t taken off my coat; is my face sweaty?
  • Oh, my hair! What does my hair look like?

Don’t Let Girly Thoughts Ruin a Good Moment

But I didn’t care. I was so happy, and probably at this point on a slight sugar high, that I just beamed, as you can see. Being so tuned in to how ridiculous and delightful this whole experience was allowed me to tell my girly thoughts to take a hike!

Let’s start a conversation. Share your story of how your joy allowed you to overcome your girly thoughts.

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

A Season of Miracles and Second Chances

by

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

@drogorman

“I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and … I believe in miracles.”

—Audrey Hepburn

I have always loved this time of year. As someone who has had her own share of life’s unfairness, I marvel that in early spring we celebrate what we hope and pray for in our own lives: miracles.

This Time of Year Is Full of Promise

Yes, this is the season of miracles. How else can you categorize the wonder of someone dying and then rising from the dead as we do on Easter, celebrated this Sunday? Or of a people being saved, as commemorated this Friday with the beginning of the one-week celebration of Passover. These important religious holidays celebrate hope and promise.

Recognize Your Resilience

Certainly, with these examples of the triumph of life over adversity in history, you can allow yourself to remember and celebrate your own personal resilience. How you have survived—perhaps even triumphed over—some over-whelming odds?

How many of you have had a:

  • painful childhood filled with violence?
  • divorce?
  • job loss?
  • terrifying challenge with your own children?

We have all experienced some of these events, plus many more. Well, you got through this somehow. I know I did. But how?

Take a moment to list a couple of the skills you developed under extreme stress. These skills are your resiliencies.

Do these skills include your:

  • determination?
  • focus?
  • sense of humor?

These are some of mine, and I bet they are some of yours, too.

Create Your Own Miracle—For YOU 

With all this positive energy around you, and with an understanding of your own resilience, why not use it to create your own miracle?

Let’s test what happens if you actively challenge one girly thought!

Take a moment to consider one way you:

  • beat yourself down during the day.
  • misdirect your energy.
  • leave yourself feeling less than.
  • sabotage your own resilience through negative thinking.

Now take that single, toxic girly thought and turn it around into a positive statement that celebrates your resilience. Make that hopeful statement your new mantra, and see how a small change in attitude can make a big change in your life.

In this season of miracles, you can make one happen for you! Try this out and let me know what you find.

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

5 Girly Thoughts™ that Increase Your Holiday Stress

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Author of The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date 10.28.14) – a fun book about a serious topic

The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013)

Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting—The Codependency Connection (2012)

It’s almost the happy holiday season, and you’re already feeling the pressure. If you’re like most of us, you’re already hearing that inner voice that pushes you to do more, reminding you that it is up to you to make this a holiday season to remember while telling you that no matter what you’re doing, it is not enough.

How Your Girly Thoughts Turn Up the Holiday Pressure

I’ve named this toxic, negative self-talk your girly thoughts. Girly thoughts function as an internal gauge of perfection against which you measure yourself, and guess what? You find yourself falling short from where you feel you should be.

Here is what your girly thoughts are telling you and what you can do about them:

1. Everyone I know needs a card and a personal note from me. Let’s face it: in this day of digital communication, a handwritten note is a lovely indication of your caring. But having a self-expectation of sending a handwritten note to everyone you know when you now clearly do not send out notes regularly?

Consider writing a lovely email letter and sending this out instead.

2. I need to make home-cooked, memorable meals. The belief that every meal needs to be a masterpiece gets in the way of actually enjoying the meal. If you don’t enjoy it, neither will anyone else.

Instead, tell yourself: I need to make meals I will enjoy. Consider:
• Serving some ready-made foods
• Saying yes when guests ask if they can bring something
• Preparing simpler recipes

3. I must look fabulous. The pressure to look good is always with us; in fact, “I’m fat” is girly thought #1. Time to detox!

Change this to: I need to feel comfortable. Too tired after a day of working and an evening of cooking to wear those heels to the party? Ditch them.

4. I must attend every holiday event, concert, and party. Yes, this is the season of making merry, but that means you want to feel merry as well.

Consider setting reasonable limits on what you will and will not do. Notice the emphasis is not on what you can do but what you will do.

5. I must find the perfect gift that says I love them. Ah, the perfect gift. No pressure here.

Change this to acknowledging each recipient’s specialness, and stay tuned for a blog on gift giving.

Give Yourself a Gift for the Holidays—Detox from Your Girly Thoughts

Girly thoughts act like a conduit through which all your discomfort, all the stresses of your life, are filtered, and the holidays just magnify that discomfort.

So this holiday season, give yourself a great gift: stop listening to that negative, toxic voice that tells you what you should do and instead look for ways to reduce your stress so you can experience all the joy of the season.

The “Rule of Thumb” and Your Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Author of The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date 10.28.14) — a fun book about a serious topic

The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013)

Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting—The Codependency Connection (2012)

The recent public awareness of NFL player Adrian Peterson hitting his four-year son with a “switch” has begun a public dialogue of how appropriate it is to hit your child. But this conversation hasn’t reached everyone. Recently a parent told me he asked the local police if it was okay to hit his fifteen- year-old. The police allegedly told him it was okay if it was with an open hand.

Is Striking Your Child Ever Okay?
The next day I heard a caller on a radio show say that a switch is better than a hand because it is less likely to cause physical harm. Hmmm . . . this sounds to me like an issue of asserting power, maybe even venting some frustration, rather than actually teaching your child a lesson, all while you can be legitimately excused from taking responsibility if you go too far. As Adrian Peterson eloquently said, he should be not be seen as a “child abuser” because he didn’t mean to hurt his son.

This discussion of child abuse—for that is what the striking of a child is, whether with an open hand or a switch—made me think about the rule of thumb.

“Legal” Spousal Abuse
Rule of thumb is a term widely used today to refer to the standard way of doing something, but the origin of this term has a dark side. Rule of thumb once referred to the width of a stick you could use to hit your wife; it was recommended that it not be thicker than a man’s thumb. Yes, before we had the concept of domestic violence, it was a common practice to keep women in line by beating them. But not too hard. After all, they still had work to do.

Yes, it is shocking how common wife beating used to be. But has this changed? We recently saw Ray Rice caught on camera beating his wife and then proclaiming he is not a wife abuser because he loves his wife—implying that the two can’t go together.

What Does Have Love Have to Do with It?
“What’s Love Got to Do with It?” is a question singer/songwriter Tina Turner asked and answered. She is a woman who also knew about being beaten by a man she loved.

Tina Turner got out of her abusive relationship. But why do other women stay? Their girly thoughts tell them physical and emotional abuse are okay if he says:

  • “Sorry.”
  • “I love you.”

and best yet,

  • “I didn’t mean it.”

Girly thoughts tell an abused wife or girlfriend not to make him so angry next time. They tell abused women that they are the cause of that anger, and that message fits in beautifully with him blaming you. Girly thoughts tell these victims to try to make everything nice, even when it isn’t.

If You’re In an Abusive Situation

  • Don’t listen to your girly thoughts. Your girly thoughts tell you its okay to be hit and then blamed or apologized to.
  • Contact your local domestic violence agency to get support and begin to plan what to do. Don’t know how to contact your local agency? Check your phone book or contact http://www.thehotline.org, which is currently experiencing a large number of women calling due to the recent publicity of how widespread domestic abuse is.
  • If you’re concerned about whether the way your child was treated constitutes child abuse, call your local child abuse hotline (listed in information or your phone book). Check for symptoms of child abuse on http://www.childhelp.org/programs/entry/national-child-abuse-hotline/. They are the experts.

Don’t let your girly thoughts immobilize you. Get information. Take planned action.

Recover from Your Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Author of The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date 10.28.14)

The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013)

Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting—The Codependency Connection (2012)

September is Recovery Month. We’ve had an entire month of reminders that we can change how we feel by changing our actions, our friends, even our diets. Hmmm?

Recovery is a different process than a cure, and much as we would like a cure for depression, addiction, and even our own negative thinking, there just isn’t one. But we have something that in some ways is even better.

Instead of being cured by something done to you, you get to do something to yourself that changes you and brings you into wellness. And you get to invite others into the party that is your wholeness.

Recovery involves paradoxes, one of which is that recovery is a process that only you can do, but you can’t do alone. Recovery involves utilizing your community to develop the support you need to make the changes you require to live the life you deserve. Recovery is so much better than a cure because it connects you to others who share the same struggles.

Detox From Your Inner Trash Talk (Girly Thoughts)

Your inner trash talk, your girly thoughts, are those societally informed thoughts that tell you if you are not perfect in your looks, in your actions, that any negative response you receive is your fault.

It’s time to detox from those and start your recovery! That recovery, too, is a paradox. Only you can do it, but you also can’t do it alone.

Yes, you need your girlfriends and even your guy friends, and maybe even your family, to support you in the process of:

  • Identifying those thoughts that tear you down and make you responsible for the poor actions of another, such as an abusive boyfriend or a mean boss
  • Naming these unproductive thinking as girly thoughts
  • Realizing that you are not the only person who is thinking them, so you can stop thinking you are nuts
  • Learning to replace this inner trash talk with thoughts that support you.

So as we approach the end of Recovery Month, celebrate by making recovery work for you. Join the process. Get support for feeling better by changing how you speak to the person closest to you: yourself. Recover from your girly thoughts!

Is This Love?—No, It’s a Girly Thought!

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD
Author of
The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date 10.28.14)
The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013)

So Ray Rice says he’s sorry, and it’s all okay? Not so fast.

“Maryland Ravens running back Ray Rice took to the podium for a second time to apologize for the incident that started with him assaulting his then-fiancee and ended in him pulling her unconscious out of an elevator in Atlantic City (http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/08/ray-rice-apology-ravens).”

He then added (for those who questioned her culpability) that she could do no wrong, as if this somehow explained his actions. What’s going on here?

Many things are wrong with this picture—a culture of celebrating and excusing male heroes (women should only be so lucky), a culture of violence against women, and a culture of women being conditioned to accept all of this.

We accept this because of our girly thoughts, that toxic inner dialogue fed into daily by the media and some less-than-helpful female traditions, that tell us to first look to see how we might have caused something terrible to happen to us, and then to be quick to forgive the other if they say the “magic words.”

And those words are not I’m sorry . . . but I love you. If we are loved, we can forgive all. Can’t we? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

We have been conditioned by our girly thoughts to accept and excuse apologies if that magic phase is thrown in cause “He loves me.” We have been taught to see past another’s actions and blame his drinking, his anger problem, his stress, his mother, as if this somehow makes it all okay that we have been hurt. In doing this, our girly thoughts teach us not to hold another as responsible for his actions and at the same time to hold ourselves responsible for understanding and forgiving those actions. We psychologists call this a “double-bind.”

Is this the first incident of domestic abuse you’ve ever heard of? No, of course not, and it won’t be the last, unfortunately. But you can help change this:

  • Help women label their girly thoughts when they are in situations where they are explaining away the pain they are in; having a name for what you are feeling gives you power over it. Help those women you know gain power over their pain.
  • Know where local help is available for women caught in domestic violence.
  • Catch your own girly thoughts before they trip you.

Remember being quiet with others and with ourselves when abuse involved is never helpful. If you feel women should be treated better let the NFL know. They are courting your support, your money. Let them know that if they want to consider you as part of their audience, you deserve respect. Say no to your girly thoughts that say love is supposed to hurt. … and while you’re at it…say no way… to the NFL for a 2 game suspension for Rice…!

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, is a psychologist and resiliency coach, and an international speaker known for her warm and funny presentations. She has worked extensively with women and children of alcoholics in private practice with an emphasis on trauma. She also serves on the Board of the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, previously directed a rape crises center as well as the Division of Prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She founded the Department of Prevention and Education for the National Office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), national office, worked extensively in senior management in child welfare, and is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. The Girly Thought 10 Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power is her ninth book; others include The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting, The Lowdown on Families Who Get High, Dancing Backwards in High Heels, and 12 Steps To Self-Parenting.  She invites you to visit her website: http://patriciaogorman.com

 

“Don’t Be So Bossy!”—Have You Internalized Early Girly Thoughts?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI 2013), and

The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date, October 2014, HCI)

As a young girl, you received many messages about who you were and how you should act. Some of these messages may have been very subtle, such as the looks you received when you reached for an extra piece of cake. Those glares told you loud and clear that you were not doing what was correct. You probably paid attention and put it back, just like the good girl you were raised to be.

Early Rejection

But you received other messages, too: messages that told to you very directly, with great authority and perhaps even with anger, how offensive your behavior was.

These comments and directions, and the tone of voice with which they were delivered, resulted in you feeling terrible about yourself, and not (at least in the beginning) knowing why.

You concluded that you were the problem because you were acting in a way that was totally not acceptable . . . even if you were not sure of what acceptable was.

As a result, you felt ashamed, and you closed down your spirit because you couldn’t face rejection. This may have proved to be a faithful decision that would affect you not only in childhood but also later in life.

But all you wanted was to be helpful

What caused you to act in such a totally not acceptable way? You were probably just trying to be helpful! Think back; do any of these describe you?

  • You saw someone about to do something that could be a problem, so you told them to stop.
  • You saw a better way to do something, so you shared it in a way that young children do, by being very direct.
  • You took charge! You said what you thought!

And then you were told you were bossy

Bossy, yes, and that’s bad if you are a girl. Now, if you’d been a boy, those around you would have said: Look at him, he’s a little general. He’s a leader. He likes to take charge, isn’t that sweet?

Those are all admirable qualities in a little boy, but in a little girl . . . they are not. As a result, instead of your great ideas and clear direction being supported and nurtured, you are rejected and told clearly to STOP.

This is where girly thoughts are born

Our girly thoughts begin with acknowledging the truth in the negative messages that surround us, but we take it one step further: We believe these messages. We internalize them. We monitor ourselves to ensure our acceptability by letting our girly thoughts, our toxic self-talk, guide us. And we shut our powerful selves down. We try not to be offensive in any way. We certainly try not to be bossy.

To remember how this happened to you, watch this sort, powerful video.

What to do? Become aware of your girly thoughts!

  • Begin to notice how you treat yourself with less respect than you deserve, or when you speak to yourself in a way you would not speak to a friend—these are your girly thoughts in action, berating you for something because it may not be acceptable.
  • Ask yourself: What do my girly thoughts try to keep me from saying? What do they try to keep me from doing?
  • Consider what will happen if you ignore these negative, internalized messages. What price do you fear you will pay for not listening to your girly thoughts?
  • Support www.banbossy.com, along with Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleezza Rice, Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, and hundreds of other men and women who want to rid the world of this negative word.

Remember: Girly thoughts are learned behavior. What you learned one way, you can learn another! Take control of your own thinking and get rid of those girly thoughts. Now that is tapping into your personal power!

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

When Your Girly Thoughts Hit You in the Face

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
www.patriciaogorman.com

I recently gave a luncheon talk to almost 300 business leaders. I was excited. But as many talks are, it was arranged months in advance, and a personal medical concern arose that resulted in some minor surgery and a bandage on my face just in time for this major event.

Now I could have entered that room full of professionals totally wrapped in a bandage, teasingly unwrapping myself as I spoke, revealing a little more with the removal of each strip, and having my audience in stitches before I revealed my own bandage. But such playful, resilient thinking was not what was going through my mind. Instead, there were my very own girly thoughts, informing me that speaking with a bandaged face would was shameful, that I couldn’t do this to my audience or myself.

My girly thoughts were insisting that if I gave my speech it would:

  • upset my audience
  • make it difficult for them to listen to me
  • focus attention on my bandaged face and not on what I was saying

Once again, I was experiencing what I wrote about in my book, The Resilient Woman: Our girly thoughts give us compelling reasons for why we should shrink from our power if we do not conform to these subtle societal standards.

The Ridiculous Pain When We Know We Don’t Look Our Best

I laughed when I finally realized that even though I “wrote the book” on this very subject, here I was again, feeling my very own girly thoughts, again. And yes, I was feeling it with all the almost-sick-to-my-stomach, feeling-like-my-face-was-on-fire, weak-kneed fear my mind could create.

To give my self some credit, I was getting head-turning stares as I walked around Albany, New York, and New York City. People were curious; I noticed more than a few double takes, which I’m not sure people were even aware of executing.

A Man Is Seen as Intriguing. . . A Woman as Damaged

I was at the point of canceling my presentation when a conversation I had with my father came to mind. He had a similar surgery on the same part of his face. I remember asking him if he was concerned about having a scar. He shrugged in his way and smiled.

“No,” he said, “it will give me character.”

In recalling this conversation, an essential difference between how society sees men and women came to mind. A man with a scar on his face is intriguing; a woman is often seen as damaged.

And I was feeling damaged.

Using Our Resilience Consciously

So I challenged myself, telling myself that what I was dealing with was no different than pushing through a really bad hair day. I realized that I could consciously use my resilience to help me through this, well, crisis, just as I had written about in my book. I recalled how I had handled other such moments in my life when I had to “show up” knowing I would be judged. I decided that if folks had a problem with my bandage, I could allow it to be their problem and not make it mine.

Much to the audience’s surprise, I began my talk with this revelation. Later, so many women came up to thank me for my bravery in coming. My decision to overcome my girly thoughts empowered them to share their truth about letting their own girly thoughts take over and they shared their stories of missing a twenty-fifth high school reunion, important meetings, a wedding—all because they feared being seen as damaged.

So when your girly thoughts literally hit you in the face, take heart: you too can learn to laugh at them, as you also learn to use your resilience consciously to help yourself through those tough times that season all our lives.

Now I hope to empower you to overcome your own girly thoughts: read the news coverage of my speech that taught me something about my own resilience, complete with a picture, at http://shar.es/EXCWJ.

I invite you to share a story of how you’ve literally had to face down your girly thoughts. It will be good for all of us to see that we’re not alone in this.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Albany, and Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning including Lifescape Solutions in Delray Beach, Florida. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

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When He Thinks You’re Crazy . . . Could the Reason Be Your Girly Thoughts?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

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www.patriciaogorman.com

I know these might seem like strange words coming from a psychologist, but stop a moment and try this on: When you back someone you love into a corner by blaming him for feeling bad about yourself, and he tells you you’re nuts, it’s hurtful—to him and to you. But consider that you may be literally making yourself nuts by your thoughts and feelings telling you that you are not good enough and you need to change.

Those “I’m not okay the way I am” feelings are due to your girly thoughts—those thoughts that you need to alter how you act, how you look, or you’ll lose your man.

Making Ourselves Nuts

By saying this, I’m not implying that all relationship challenges you are experiencing are your fault. No, I am definitely not saying that. What I am saying is that some of the negative ideas you may be struggling with are within your control. And I’m encouraging you to take control of your thinking.

Don’t Blame Him

The problem is that you may not be identifying your girly thoughts for what they are: a function of our intense media holding up images of desirable women—many of them so digitally altered that they do not look like themselves—as the “ideal” to which we should all aspire. The result is that when we don’t measure up—as we cannot because these are no longer real people—we feel terrible about ourselves.

But instead of seeing your girly thoughts as the reason you may be feeling insecure, you’re tempted to blame your feelings of inadequacy on your partner, creating conflict in a part of your life where you need support. For example, you decided to be a sexy watermelon for Halloween. You put on your costume, went to a party, and decided he thought you looked fat because he was hanging out with the good witch. Now, he didn’t say this. You assumed it, and the unfortunate result was confusing him and making him feel defensive because he doesn’t know where you are coming from.

Are we crazy?

Why do women do this? Because trying to keep up with what you feel you should do and should be is exhausting. He’s there. He becomes a logical target, because someone has to be responsible for how bad you feel about yourself.

Wrong. Consider the possibility that it isn’t him. Try on that it’s probably your girly thoughts.

Consequences of Your Girly Thoughts: You Push Him Away

As a result of being blamed, he:

• feels hurt, wronged, confused, maybe angry, and frightened (even though most men are loath to admit to this)

• can feel your unhappiness, but he knows he hasn’t changed, so he thinks it’s you—you’re crazy.

So what to do?

• First, take a deep breath and realize that you’re not crazy even though your girly thoughts can make you feel that way;

• Then realize he probably doesn’t think you’re crazy, he’s just not sure what to do.

• And when you are ready, talk to him. I know: this is the scary part. But don’t you think that because he cares for you, he wants to know what is going on? He’ll want to reassure you? He might even laugh with you at some of the absurdities in the media? Who knows, maybe sharing your girly thoughts with him will bring you even closer.

Send me a post about how challenging your girly thoughts has changed your relationship with him.

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And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Albany, and Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning including Lifescape Solutions in Delray Beach, Florida. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com