Giving Up SEX for Lent

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

I was in my local health food store when I saw a neighbor and we began chatting.  When asked what I was up to I told her of my recent blog on giving up a girly thought for lent—you remember the one where I suggested you give up one girly thought for lent, yes just one, even if you’re not observant, even if you’re not Christian, all with the understanding that you can return to this form of self-sabotage after Easter if you still want to do this to yourself (

She began laughing and told me of a story of a younger cousin with a wicked sense of humor.  We’ll call her Colleen.  When she was asked what she was giving up for lent by her Episcopal priest, she said SEX.  He evidently turned pale and began shaking.  Colleen was only 14 and lived in boarding school in a rural part of Canada.  She was quickly isolated from the other girls, questioned repeatedly—they needed to know who the boy was—and then not believed when she said she was just kidding.  By the way, she has become a successful comedy writer – noted for her sense of humor and her timing.

No Kidding 

It’s still not too late for you. Just try stopping one of those girly thoughts that tell you:

  • You’re too smart
  • Too fat
  • Too aggressive, or
  • It’s all your fault that….

Think of it just like a science experiment you did in high school.  You do something and see what happens.  You can do this within yourself—stop thinking one girly thought  and see what happens when you make space in you by stopping one particular way you are distracting yourself, beating yourself up, keeping yourself down – yes stopping just one girly thought can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself, and how much energy you have to do what it is you’d like to accomplish.

Try it and let me know…

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

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.

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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

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How Women Sabotage Business Relationships with Girly Thoughts

“The brain is hardwired to keep us focused on others, and on our role and status. When we’re not engaged in some kind of exchange, we’re often thinking about them.”

Marsha Shenk, a pioneer in business anthropology, consultant to leaders from the Fortune 50 to Solopreneurs, and founder of The BestWork® People, wrote those words in this slideshare. Her statement is particularly interesting when we consider that sometimes, we are our own worst enemies because of our focus on others, our role, and our status. How we manage those relationships can ultimately determine our career success. Women bring a unique point of view about relationships to the workplace. While we juggle work and family issues, we rarely spend much time or attention on what we think about ourselves, and how that translates into how we interact with others. We can sabotage all our professional efforts with thoughts about why we weren’t able to achieve a goal when we reason with our inner girly thoughts.

Our girly thoughts are those self-limiting thought and images of who we are, what we are capable of, what we are good for, how we should look, how we should act, and the consequences we can expect when we don’t fit within this very narrow and often unobtainable expectation. Girly thoughts are the subtle, outside messages we internalize that cause us to blame ourselves—even berate ourselves—for not achieving what we feel we should.

This is an especially fearsome problem in the workplace when we are dealing with interpersonal relationships. Because we don’t even realize we are thinking these negative thoughts, we look to external factors to blame for our unhappiness and lack of successful career relationships. Yet our professional failures aren’t found in a specific, unachieved goal—the promotion we didn’t get, the contract we weren’t awarded, or even the ten pounds we gained. And when we try to “fix” these problems, we do what all too often comes naturally: we blame ourselves for the actions of others.

For example, if your boss snaps at you, do you automatically assume it’s because you’ve failed in some way? It’s entirely possible that your boss was up all night with a sick child and is exhausted, or she is facing a major budget cut and has to figure out how to run her department with less money and fewer people. YOU are not necessarily the reason she lashes out, even if you are the recipient of her displeasure.

Using our girly thoughts to navigate relationships assures us that the difficult situations we find ourselves in must be our fault due to something lacking in us. If I’m too opinionated, no one will like me, or If I don’t lose ten pounds, I won’t be considered for that promotion. This is all nonsense, but the tendency for women to blame themselves for the ills that befall them is so widespread as to be considered almost universal. This is energy misspent in a negative internal dialogue that could be better spent understanding and achieving personal and professional goals.

In my book, The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, I discuss how to overcome girly thoughts and consciously decide to use your resilience to deliberately challenge them. By addressing and challenging your girly thoughts, you position yourself to step into your power. Particularly in workplace relationships, your ability to access your personal power is paramount to every interaction you have and will ultimately determine if you stay at the bottom of the corporate totem pole or move forward in your career by embracing your personal excellence.

How to combat girly thoughts at work? Listen to an oldie but a goodie by Helen Reddy after the jump

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