Giving as an Extension of You, Not Your Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD


’Tis the season, with lots of expectations of what you should do, how you should look, and what you should give when gifting. No wonder your girly thoughts, that toxic self-talk that tells you what to do while simultaneously telling you you’re not doing it correctly, have a field day here.

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, I explain where your toxic self-talk comes from, how it affects you, and how to get rid of it. After all, who needs a voice inside her head telling her she’s a loser?

One way to challenge your girly thoughts, especially during the holidays, is to take planned, concrete action to defeat them, and what better way than to determine what you will and will not give your friends, family members, and co-workers.

Re-thinking What It Means to Give

Instead of scouring catalogues, spending hours you don’t have online, or waiting in endless lines in stores, think outside the girly thoughts box—the one that says your gift must be the latest fashion, expensive, in the right color. Instead, think about what is meaningful for you, and what is meaningful for the person you are gifting.

Consider giving a non-girly thoughts gift:

  • Membership in the recipient’s name in a national advocacy group. Consider one that may be less well known than others but will have more immediate meaning, such as the National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACoA). As some of you know, I was a co-founder of this vital organization many years ago. NACoA reaches out, speaks up, and helps hurting children in need of comfort and support who live in silence and fear from their parent’s addiction, letting them know it is not their fault.

  • A donation in the recipient’s name to a program for kids. Want to give to small program that is developing a national model for helping kids heal? Check out Horses Healing Hearts (HHH) in Wellington, Florida, a wonderful organization whose advisory board I chair. “One horse, one child, one day at a time . . .” provides direct emotional support and education for young children whose lives have been torn apart by a parent’s death, incarceration, or abuse due to addiction. HHH teaches empowerment, life-coping skills, and helps children build self-confidence by learning about horse care and riding.

  • Give a gift that also gives a gift. My, a new company you may not have yet heard about, provides a child in need with a comforting and inspiring blanket for every one purchased. Here is a beautiful, physical gift that keeps on giving.

  • Head off girly thoughts by giving the perfect mother/daughter gift that literally gets mothers and daughter on the same page in addressing how we women learn to disempower ourselves, our girly thoughts. Jane Collen, a lawyer turned children’s book author, has just released What More Can a Fairy Be?, her third book in the Enjella series: Each book is for a different age group, making it a perfect gift for girls from 3–15, and a perfect complement to the messages in my book, The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan, for older teens and mothers of all ages.

Let the Gifts You Give Be a Reflection of the Best in YOU

Remember, your gifts are a reflection of you. Give yourself permission to think outside the box that your girly thoughts put you in. Be creative, have fun, and help others do the same—help them give themselves the gift of no more girly thoughts!

Learn more about helping your daughter and the other women in your life avoid internalizing her girly thoughts in my new 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.

Find it on:

Amazon paperback, Kindle

Barnes & Noble paperback, Nook

Find me on Facebook

4 Ways You Can Help Your Daughter Measure Her True Self-Worth

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD


Remember how awkward it felt to be a teen? Remember what it was like to worry each night when you went to bed if you would recognize the you who woke up in the morning? Budding breasts, growth spurts, and those terrible pimples were all potential minefields.

I know I can still feel how my dread on the first day of school in the fifth grade—I’d grown three inches over the summer and developed acne.

Birth of Our Girly Thoughts
As teens, we often felt betrayed by our changing bodies and by that feeling of not being good enough, of being defective. Why? Because as young girls, we felt required to be perfect, and we castigated ourselves because we were not.

We internalized those negative thoughts through a toxic, inner dialogue I call girly thoughts—a way of speaking to ourselves that begins in our teens and continues through our lives. Our girly thoughts chip away at our sense of self-worth until we take direct action to detox from this type of habitual, negative thinking.

Share and Share Alike
There’s a good reason we wouldn’t want to be teenagers again—not only did we not feel good about ourselves, but those negative thoughts were reinforced by our so-called friends, the media—even our own families.

But how did we know we weren’t everything we were supposed to be? Comments, looks, slam books, selective ostracizing—let me count the ways. Then we internalized those negative messages (“You’re not pretty enough.” “Don’t act too smart or the boys won’t like you.” “You aren’t wearing that, are you?”), and we continue to do this to our adult selves.

And the saddest part is that by listening to and acting on our girly thoughts, we inadvertently teach our daughters to do the same.

Girly Thoughts in the Digital Age

As challenging as your teenage years may have been, they pale in comparison to what our daughters are experiencing in feeling judged—not just by peers in the classroom, but also by peers on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram, which a survey found 76 percent of teens chose as their go-to app.

In a stunning article about how to de-code our daughters’ communication on social media, Rachel Simmons, author and co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute writes,

Girls face increasing pressure not only to be smart and accomplished, but girly, sexy and social. . . . Instagram’s simplicity is also deceiving: look more closely, and you find the Rosetta Stone of girl angst: a way for tweens and teens to find out what their peers really think of them (Was that comment about my dress a joke or did she mean it?), who likes you (Why wasn’t I included in that picture?), even how many people like them (if you post and get too few likes, you might feel “Instashame,” as one young woman calls it.)

What To Do?
Now that this judging is so intense and so public, we need to give our daughters additional tools to help them:

Give your daughter a name for her negative self-talk: girly thoughts.
Having a name for something will help her wrap her mind around her experience and see this as something she is doing, not who she is. Helping her see her feelings as transitory and nothing to feel ashamed of will help her overcome the barrage of negativity that is part and parcel of being a teenage girl.

Help her challenge feeling like a victim. This is the end result of girly thoughts your daughter will feel she has no power and feel she is a victim at the mercy of her peers, and the world. Share with her in general terms how you have fought the same toxic self-talk she is fighting.

Encourage her to become involved in activities in which she feels proud of herself. Encourage her to sketch, sing, journal, join the Chess Club, Engineering Club, Babysitting Club, and Church Youth Group, to name just a few. The more positive activities she is involved in, the more she’ll have to post about the best in her.

Help her identify the girly thoughts of her friends. If she has a peer who is cyberbullying another girl because of her braces, breasts, pimples, or who she’s dating, help her see that this is how her peer is responding to her own girly thoughts that say there is only way, and it is the popular way.

The Payoff
It may be rough going at first, but the more your daughter (or granddaughter or niece) can learn to get in front of what is said about her now and learn to define herself, the easier her life will be—not only her teenage years, but for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, she will get a great deal of practice in needing to do this, so why not start now?

Learn more about helping your daughter avoid internalizing her girly thoughts in my new 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.

Amazon paperback, Kindle

Barnes & Noble paperback, Nook

Find me on Facebook

Setting Examples for our Daughters: What Mothers teach their Daughters about Girly Thoughts

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)

We say one picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then one video must be worth many more.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I encourage you to watch the video below (sent to me by a reader) of a participant at the Barnard College poetry slam. In it, a young woman speaks to what she sees in her mother that both concerns and infuriates her. She expresses her pain about how the intergenerational messages she has internalized hurt both her and her mother.

Those of us who are mothers may believe that our daughters just follow our directives and do not see the context, do not see our actions or those of our mothers (their grandmothers). We think they do not see the price we pay for following the culturally directed girly thoughts that tell us how to act and how to think, and that promise rejection if we stray from acting in this narrow cultural band.

Think again.

Learning to Take Up Less Space

The poet in this video speaks to how generations of women in her family have been groomed and coached to take up less and less space. “I have been taught accommodation,” she says.

She speaks to being concerned that her mother sneaks downstairs at midnight to secretly eat food to which she does not feel entitled. She talks about how her mother masks her pain with lips coated with wine.

Yes, women have been coached for generations to be smaller, to “wane” as their husbands ‘wax’; coached to be the “woman behind the man,” to be important, yes, but invisible and unrecognized.

But our daughters will break this cycle, won’t they?

“Spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits. That’s why the women in my family have been shrinking for decades,” the poet muses.

Sound familiar? Listen to Lilly and ask yourself… is this me as well?

What Can We Do to Support Our Daughters?

    • Encourage them to give voice to their concerns about us

Ask your daughter to discuss what concerns her about you. Her answers may be difficult to listen to, but it is better to have your daughter put this into words than just do what women have been trained to do, which is to internalize what they are concerned about and not speak up.

    • Listen to what our daughters are saying

Sometimes it is difficult to listen to our children, particularly when they are angry—speaking to us with raised voices, using profanity, acting in a way we feel is inappropriate, yelling to us from another room. Our children’s behavior may mask what they are saying—but what they are saying may be right on. Listen to the message; don’t just tune it out because you don’t like the delivery.

    • Change your behavior

Yes, you may need to change. Your daughter’s concerns may be well-founded.  There may very well be something there that your daughter is picking up on that you should address by changing your actions, changing your thinking, changing the messages you are sending.

Crisis Is Opportunity

As I wrote in the first step of my book, The Resilient Woman,, crisis is opportunity. Let this “crisis” of your daughter confronting you on modeling inappropriate, ingrained behaviors and attitudes be the opportunity for you to change in a way that benefits you and frees your daughter from following your girly thoughts.

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 (NACOA), 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