Step 4: Self-Parenting in the Age of COVID-19 Accepting How We Learned to Protect Ourselves and Build on This

Photo by Adrian Pelletier on Unsplash


Patricia A O’Gorman, PhD

Step 4: Made an honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses

 and accepted the impact our childhood has had on us as adults.

The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children

Survivorship is important to consider during times of crisis, particularly a crisis like the one in which we find ourselves today, which is fraught with challenges on so many levels. This type of crisis not only stirs up past wounds but also intensifies unresolved childhood and adult issues.

Protecting Ourselves

Overcoming the feeling of powerlessness, encouraging ourselves to reach out, and challenging our belief that we must do this alone are all part of this process of self-parenting. Today your task is to use this crisis to make peace with the old ways you have used to protect yourself and to move on—to learn new ways to care for yourself, and by example share them with those who surround you. I invite you to expand your understanding of your self-care by considering with compassion your strengths and weakness—not only for the person you are today, but also for the child you were. 

Our need to protect ourselves is normal. We all need to defend ourselves against what we see as threats. As you think back over your life, I’m sure you realize that not all the ways you protected yourself worked equally well. When you were a child, you made sense of the world as a child does. As you have grown, some of those familiar ways of protecting yourself have developed, and some haven’t aged particularly well. In contrast, other ways of taking care of yourself are sources of light and joy you can still feel even in this somber time. These you’ll want to consider building upon.

Dark Side and Light Side Defenses

To help you reflect on this, consider calling these two types of defenses dark side and light side. 

Our dark side defenses keep us stuck in the pain of the past. These are thoughts and behaviors that are familiar because they define our best past efforts to keep ourselves safe, even if they were not particularly effective. They’re frequently expensive—emotionally, physically, and financially—because they use our resources in less than efficient ways, consuming and misdirecting our energies. We may be tempted to use them when we anticipate an old pain of childhood about to rear its wounding head, or when we’re facing uncertainty with its accompanying terror. We may even invite them in to create a familiar type of perceived attack because we know how to fight this battle, and we do these things in an effort to keep us safe from confronting something new. 

One example is that many couples are having familiar arguments about one party taking advantage of another by not doing routine household tasks, or avoiding a discussion of how to prepare their finances in the event that one of them becomes very ill and dies. We know these are dark side defenses because after using them we feel depleted, alone, and more frightened.

Our light side defenses help us grow, explore possibilities in the midst of chaos, and to be curious, open. We recognize these behaviors as positive because we feel good and positive after we deploy them. One example is our healthcare workers who push themselves to go to work, trying not to pay attention to their fear and their long hours, missing their children and focusing instead on how they are fulfilling their life’s purpose. Another may be a parent sitting down with their child on Zoom, laughing together as they try to figure out how it works so their child can participate in school. By enjoying the challenge together instead of feeling pulled to vacuum or finish a work report, they avoid becoming angry with their child who needs help.

Exercise for Today

On a piece of paper or in your journal, create three columns and label them 

  • My Defense, 
  • How It Protects Me, and 
  • What It Costs Me   

Fill each column using an example of your dark side defense and one of your light side defense. Your page will look something like this:

Dark Side DefenseHow It Protects MeWhat It Costs Me

Blaming myself for being alone because I’m fat

Gives me the illusion of control

It costs me my power and motivation by overwhelming me, making me feel responsible for things beyond my control like the safety precautions for COVID-19 
Light Side DefenseHow It Protects MeWhat It Costs Me

Telling myself I’m worth the trouble to keep physically separate as I figure out how to stay socially connected

Keeps me safe from COVID-19

A little loneliness, but I know I’m safe; I’m not taking everything personally

Make a daily commitment to list a dark side and a light side defense in your journal. Use this time of major disruption in your life to consider the messages you are sending yourself that you can change.  

Welcoming the Real You

Challenge yourself to crack the door open to your light side defenses to reveal the real you—a combination of your past challenges and what they have taught you, your current beliefs, struggles, and solutions, and your future hopes and plans. Your real self is not static. Be curious about what you are doing right—your light side defense; add the ways you keep yourself safe to your gratitude list. Be prepared to have a fuller inner life even with all of the restrictions COVID-19 is creating. 

Make a note in your journal about how this works for you, and feel free to share it on my new Facebook Group, Self-Parenting in the Age of COVID, which I invite you to join by clicking on the link. There you can post your struggles and solutions as we create community. I invite you to share the blogs and posts you find on the Facebook Group by tagging those you know and care about, whether they are in recovery or just loved by you. 

This is the fourth of a twelve-part series based on The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting. More tips are available on my blog, The Powerful, and in my books: Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting, The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children, and The Resilient Woman. Learn more about my work as a consulting psychologist and speaker at

Step 3: Self-Parenting in the Age of COVID-19 We Can Learn to Reach Out

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Step 3: Learned to let go of compulsive self-reliance by reaching out to our higher parent.

The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children

For some of us, the messages of the COVID-19 precautions are reinforcing a painful message from our childhood that you must do it all by yourself. Compulsive self-reliance—feeling that you must be self-sufficient no matter the cost, and trusting only yourself—may be rearing its head, again in this time of world crisis.

Compulsive Self-Reliance

As you hear the directives to socially distance, wear a mask, not leave your home, part of you may be saying, I’m good, I’ve prepared my whole life for this. I can handle this. There’s truth in this. You may know well how to function in a crisis—how to shut down your emotions, stop needing, become a group of only one, focus on enduring, and achieve some measure of safety. This is a skill you have, one that you can’t—and shouldn’t—deny. You know you are a survivor. Good. 

But self-reliance tells only part of who you are. You are also a human and a member of a species that yearns for connection. And as skilled as you may be in handling a crisis, sustaining yourself alone in a crisis is another issue. So who can you turn to now that you are isolated? You can begin by reconnecting to your higher parent.

Reaching Out to Your Higher Parent 

Your higher parent is that force beyond you that can give you comfort. Think of your higher parent as your personal spiritual first responder. This may be nature, as in Mother Nature, or perhaps you follow an organized religion and a belief in Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed. Perhaps your higher parent is the energy you feel in your recovery group. Connecting with your higher parent can help you not just get through this period, but also find ways of being okay with the circumstances in which you find yourself. 

Giving Your Suffering Meaning 

I remember being a young girl growing up in New York City, surprised by the random dandelions I would find growing in cement cracks in dark alleyways. They may have grown crooked, but they reached for the light, and they grew as yellow and perky as those that grew in the parks. Just like those dandelions, you can grow and thrive despite your own challenging circumstances. You don’t have to just endure. 

By not just gritting through this and facing it alone, but by reflecting on the positive meaning this can have for you, you can grow now, just as you have done in the past during other very difficult periods. 

One way to do this is to open yourself to learning the spiritual lessons contained in this, yet another painful experience in your life; and by doing so you give your suffering meaning. What can you learn from the isolation, the break in routine, the loneliness, from being cut off from what was productive and meaningful in your life? How can you give meaning to this pain that is real, and to which you may not see an end? 

Hard Pain, Soft Pain

There are two types of pain:

Hard pain, the pain of resistance, the pain we feel when we fight our truth. This is the pain of fear. Hard pain builds a wall around us, making us bitter. We express hard pain through anger.

Soft pain is the pain of healing. This is the pain of mourning and acceptance. Soft pain frees us from the sorrow of our past so we can move forward to face the challenges of today. Soft pain releases our energy and our love. Some Native American groups feel that the highest form of prayer is to shed tears, which we do in accepting and expressing our soft pain. 

Exercise for Today:

  • You are in pain. Decide how you want to handle it. Do you want to soften your pain? What can you begin now to do this? Would reaching out to your higher parent help? 
  • Give your suffering meaning. What positive takeaways from your pain can you make now? 

Add this practice to your gratitude list.

Make a note in your journal about what works for you, and feel free to share it on my new Facebook Group, Self-Parenting in the Age of COVID, which I invite you to join by clicking on the link. There you can post your struggles and solutions as we create community. I invite you to share the blogs and posts you find on the Facebook Group by tagging those you know and care about, whether they are in recovery or just loved by you. 

This is the third of a twelve-part series based on The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting. I invite you to subscribe to receive updates to this blog—look for future series where I apply my existing work to dealing with the specifics of COVID-19 for those involved in or interested in aspects of recovery—a parenting series based on The Lowdown on Families Who Get High, then one for those dealing with trauma based on Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting, followed by (of course) more on resiliency and girly thoughts. 

More tips are available on my blog, The Powerful, and in my books: Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting, The 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children, and The Resilient Woman. Learn more about my work as a consulting psychologist and speaker at

Giving Your Inner Child a Holiday Present in 7 Easy Steps

Giving Your Inner Child a Holiday Present in 7 Easy Steps

If this holiday season is like most for you, it probably involves running around taking care of everyone else but yourself. This may involve you feeling the pressure to send a card to everyone you know with a personalized note, even if you have forgotten their birthday; buying gifts for the key members of your that indicate how much you value them, even if they have been awful to you all year; hosting a series of dinner or parties where everything is cooked and baked by you, even if pizza and takeout are regularly featured in your weekly dinners. 

Sound familiar?

Holidays and Your Inner Child

The reason why you feel you must plug the emotional gaps for those you know and those who you care about may have more to do with early messages in childhood where what was prized, and perhaps modeled, was taking care of everyone else before you take care of yourself. These messages, instructions, rules to live by are stored within us in what I’ll call your inner child, the remembered part of your childhood that can take over, guiding your actions, particularly in emotionally fraught times like Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. 

No, I’m not going to say stick it to everything that is planned and is expected of you, and then change everything at literally the last moment (even thought that may not be a bad idea). But I will show you how you can soothe and moderate these expectations by taking care of yourself. 

Sound impossible? 

Use Your Senses to Center Yourself

You are a human being with feelings and senses. Yes, you’re busy, but you can use your senses to help slow yourself down and help you feel more in control. Also called mindfulness, this paying attention to your senses can help soothe you and center you. And who knows, It may even make you more productive.

Try these seven simple tips:

  • Feel the bubbles made by the dish soap in the endless washing up you will be doing. Play with them, enjoy their smoothness and sense of play. 
  • See the clouds scudding in the sky, the moon winking at you, the trees moving in the breeze. Take a deep breath as you walk, or run, through your day, and appreciate the beauty before you. 
  • Smell and savor the delicious aromas of the cakes and cookies you are baking, or the roast you have seasoned. 
  • Sense the warmth of the sun, or the tingle of snowflakes, or the crystal clearness of raindrops as you hurry through your shopping. 
  • Say positive things to yourself:
  • These bubbles are fun.
  • I love my own cooking.
  • I deserve to see this beauty.
  • I’m doing well here. 
  • This looks great. 
  • I love the smell of the air just before it snows.
  • Own the power you have to bring joy to others by seeing and allowing yourself to “take in” the delight on the faces of those you love.
  • Note the rewards you want to give yourself:
  • Like the bubbles? How about a bubble bath on a regular basis?
  • Like noticing what you’re doing well? Consider writing your own personal daily affirmations. Yes, take the ten seconds it will require to do this regularly—you’re worth it.

My suggestions will take only seconds and not delay you in any task, but they will make whatever you are doing more enjoyable by making space for you, your needs, while you are being so productive in taking care of everyone else. 

Know that when you create even these thin slivers, these tiny moments where you are in touch with yourself, you are feeding your inner child by recognizing your needs and your wants, a skill that may not have been taught to you as a child. 

Making Changes—Developing Resilience

We can all learn from out stressful experiences. When we do this, it’s called resilience. Want to be resilient in the New Year? Then, consider changing a few things: 

  • Play with pairing down the list of what you are pushing yourself to do. Want to experiment this holiday season?  
    • For example, consider sending out a Valentine’s card, with a letter that goes to those you care about. Or better yet, send out an email blast for St. Patrick’s Day with an update on you and yours. Not only will you have more time and energy in the coming months than you do now, but think how special your recipients will feel to be remembered when it isn’t Christmas or their birthday.
  • Make simple changes. They will be the easiest to do and will be more likely to stick.
    • Take two golden minutes for yourself as you begin and end your day. Enjoy your coffee or tea as you gaze out the window. Do some gentle neck rolls, set an intention of something you’d like to do for you today, like take the stairs instead of the elevator, or pack some grapes or an apple for a snack at work. 
  • Write a good New Year’s resolution. Feel you can’t change course midstream, and want to wait for a really good New Year’s resolution? Take notes on all the things you’d like to do differently next year. Yes, literally write them down in your journal. 
    • For example, make next Christmas’s dinner a family potluck where you’re only making the turkey or other main course. Collect these ideas for the next eleven months and you’ll set yourself up for a less stress-filled and more balanced holiday celebration next year.

Write and let me know how you took care of yourself …

Wishing you a more peaceful holiday season. 

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, is a speaker, a consulting psychologist in upstate New York, and the author of nine books, including The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan and The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power: 12 Steps to Self-Parenting. She is a regular blogger at The Powerful Woman. Learn more at

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

When Life Knocks You Down, Use Your Personal Power to Overcome Toxic Girly Thoughts

Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow, here’s someone without girly thoughts!”?

That’s not unusual for me. When I meet a woman for the first time, I quickly assess to see if she is measures herself against societal standards and the self-defeating thoughts I’ve named girly thoughts. I always silently applaud when I encounter someone who doesn’t. Alese is one such woman.

I recently met Alese at my gym. This small, thin young woman was pressing what looked to be more than her body weight, and I was in awe.

As we talked, I learned that Alese was able to get out from under her toxic girly thoughts (all those societal shoulds that have us doubting ourselves) by taking charge of her life. Alese is now a gym owner, personal trainer, and competitive power lifter who suffered from a severe eating disorder, misdiagnosed celiac disease, and bullying in school.

This battle resulted in my need to gain 50+ lbs and get strong while mentally battling the demons of my eating disorder that wanted to keep me at a too-low body weight. The bottom picture, on the left was me at 76 lbs. Picture on the right is me now at 128 lbs deadlifting 285-lb. at a recent powerlifting meet!


Strong Is the New Beautiful

Did I mention that Alese is also beautiful—and personable? We spoke about her considerable athletic skills and the drive it took to develop them.

Even though the experience I lived through with my own toxic girly thoughts was terrible, it led me to come full circle, and it birthed my love of powerlifting and also my career as a personal trainer. My struggle ended up being a blessing in the end.


Alese is a wonderful example of a woman who overcame her girly thoughts—the ones that whispered, “No, you can’t” and kept her buried in negativity—and embraced her resilience to achieve her goals. “Now it’s time for me to help others currently struggling with the same issues that once held me down,” she told me, and I’m excited to introduce you to her. Learn more at about Alese and her mission at, and follow her on Instagram @socksandsquats.

Have you met someone who embodies the idea of personal resilience, someone who overcame her self-defeating and toxic girly thoughts to embrace her personal power? Maybe that someone is you? I invite you to share your story in the comments, or email me at

Remember, 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 New Way to Heal Your Own Trauma Through Self-Parenting: Audiobook Now Available


My toxic girly thoughts told me I should just put this information on my website and not make a big deal about it. After all, isn’t this boasting? Then my resilience kicked in and said, “You worked hard to write this book—so shout about it!”

What’s All the Fuss About?

My most recent book on trauma, Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection, was released in 2012, and I just learned it is now available as an audiobook. Healing Trauma was truly inspired by my patients and workshop attendees who often lamented that they were “getting worse” as they delved into trauma literature because they couldn’t navigate their responses—their triggers.

Healing Trauma was my response. It is a pivotal book that focuses both on what trauma is and on what you can do now to begin to heal through managing your triggers.

Since its publication, many of you have shared with me how this book launched you on your journey of healing.

Now your healing can take place anywhere.

There is a new assist for all of you who find yourselves in your cars or who just prefer to be read to instead of doing the reading: Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection is available as an audiobook. And if you purchase the Kindle version through, you can also get the Audible audiobook for a significantly reduced price*.

I learned about the audiobook version of Healing Trauma through a thank-you note from JM, one of the listeners who wrote to thank me for sharing “. . . the best book and most helpful book I have ever read (in this case, listened to) on this important, and very relevant to me, subject.”

You might wonder why it took a note from a listener to inform me that I have an audiobook, but when you sign a publishing contract, the publisher puts your book out there, and you don’t always know where.

That’s why I need you!

Thank YOU!

Your notes, emails, and comments when I speak are so important to me, and they provide valuable information such as JM’s email illustrated. They inspire me to keep trying to figure out how to make healing accessible to all. So thank you! We make a good team . . . keep letting me know what you think, feel, and what you find out!

If you’d like to listen to Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection and start on your own path to healing, here’s the link:

If you’d like to read the Kindle* version and take advantage of the discounted audiobook bundle pricing, here’s the link:

*If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a free app to use on your Apple, Android, or Window devices.

Enjoy, and remember to let me know what you think!

Remember, 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


Patricia O’Gorman, PhD


“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

The Crying Game: Where Your Anger, Not Your Girly Thoughts, Can Be Your Friend

There is something you have that the world needs . . .

the girly thoughts 10-day detox the resilient woman's guide to saying no to negative self-talk and yes to personal power - patricia o'gorman

So often we feel it is not good to be angry—particularly at work, where we’ll be seen and judged. We fear our anger is unbecoming, and that if we let ourselves get angry, we won’t be liked, that we’ll be labeled the dreaded B-word. Instead, we tell ourselves we should be pleasing, approachable, not threatening, and accommodating to all of the nonsense.

To make sure you are acting the way you should, you watch the reaction of others to gauge if what you’re doing is acceptable (and God forbid you aren’t acceptable). You adjust your voice, maybe making it sound less threatening and younger; you watch your posture and the way you walk.

In short, at work and in other parts of your life, you put those hard-to-put-a-finger-on society forces that I’ve dubbed girly Thoughts in charge of your career—a terrible idea that I discuss in The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan.

Don’t Get Angry and Cry; Instead, Get Smart

When you are afraid of being angry, a terrible inner tension is created, and you become frustrated. As a result, especially in important meetings when you feel your anger beginning, you also feel your tears welling.

But instead of trying to figure out if you should cry at work or not, perhaps the better question is: Why is crying the first feeling up when you are angry? It is fear of crying that many women cite as a reason not to speak up, because crying at work would make them be seen as weak, as lacking leadership qualities, as undependable.

Not only does crying at work feel risky, but it has an awful side benefit, too: crying keeps you in the role of needing to be rescued, yes, even at work, while your anger, well, that will have others look at you as a B…—and your girly thoughts do say that is even worst.

So what to do? Be smart:

  • Realize your girly thoughts are keeping you silent at work. Identify this is what is going on. Name this toxic inner dialogue.
  • Act on that New Year’s Resolution to give yourself a voice at work.
  • Rehearse those scenarios that make you want to cry and see how you can frame your points so you are clear, even powerful. Yes, that will mean telling those girly thoughts to get lost, but you can replace them with a focus on your strengths, on your resilience, even, that can support you in public situations at work.
  • Run these ideas by a friend, but not necessarily one you work with; more about this in a later blog.
  • Get support from an outside mentor who can help you navigate the pitfalls specific to your job.
  • Remember, the world needs you to make that contribution, and to do so you need to let the world know what your contribution is.


Practice makes perfect, and at work you are likely to get a great deal of practice in identifying those girly thoughts that bring on your tears.

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my 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

Let me know how you deal with wanting to cry at work.

True Kindness – No Girly Thoughts Here

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)

Women focus on being kind to others, but do we ever stop to think about being kind to ourselves?

How Do You View Yourself?

When you look in the mirror, do you notice:

  • Your beautiful smile . . . or do you focus on where you need Botox®?
  • Your kind eyes . . . or do you tell yourself you need to get your eyebrows done?
  • Your curves . . . or do you fret about losing weight?
  • A capable and competent employee . . . or do you worry that you won’t be liked if you offer your opinion?
  • A valuable asset to your partner . . . or do you focus on being someone you think your partner wants you to be?

Girly Thoughts Teach Unkindness

Every single day you are cruel to the person who is the foundation of your life – yourself! Why? Because those societally driven, family-reinforced notions of how women should look and act – girly thoughts – cause you to see yourself (and other women as well) as not measuring up.

Think not? Listen to what you say, not only to yourself, but also about other women.

• “I can’t believe she got that promotion. She must be sleeping with the boss.”
• “If I just lose five more pounds, I bet I’ll get his attention.”
• “I wish she’d stop bragging about her daughter all the time.”

Your girly thoughts are a major distraction from important parts of your life—love, connection, and compassion, and they teach you to be critical instead of kind. They drain you. You only have so much energy; do you want to spend yours on negative, judgmental girly thoughts or on being kind to yourself and others?

Fighting Girly Thoughts with Kindness

Marisa had already decided to stop beating herself up over not having what society deemed the perfect body. But in a clothing store one day, she heard stifled sobs from the next fitting room, and her heart broke. In there was another a younger, tall, curvaceous woman who was distraught because she couldn’t find anything to wear to a friend’s wedding.

“I’m so fat,” she moaned. “No,” Marisa countered, “You’re a commanding presence!” The younger woman laughed, and Marisa helped her to find the perfect dress honoring her beautiful body.

Detox from Your Girly Thoughts

Want to be kind to yourself? Stop listening to your girly thoughts! Here are some tips from my new book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox:

1. Realize you’re not the only one who feels so inadequate. Having the right color lipstick or staying forever young are messages women hear every day.
2. Identify those self-defeating messages as girly thoughts. Having a name for something gives you power over it, and helps you say NO to self-defeating thoughts.
3. Get support for outing your girly thoughts. Have fun with friends at a Girls’ Night Out, or with your daughter or your mother to see who can find the most girly thoughts in a TV Show, a movie, or in ads.
4. Challenge your most annoying girly thought. Every time you hear it, name it and tell it to get lost.
5. Replace your girly thoughts with kind messages about yourself. Instead of being angry with your body, thank your “big bottom” for cushioning you as you sit; think of your stretch marks as your tiger stripes. Find the positive in the parts of you that demand your attention.
6. Say daily positive affirmations. I love my body; my body loves me; I like my spirit; I am capable and confident.

Getting rid of your girly thoughts—now that’s being kind to you!

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, 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 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!