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 patriciaogorman.com.

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!

alese1

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.

alese2

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 www.socksandsquats.com, 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 girlythoughtsdetox@gmail.com.

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

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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 Amazon.com, 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:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/Healing-Trauma-Through-Self-Parenting-Audiobook/B00BFDO21Y/ref=a_search_c4_1_6_srTtl?qid=1434491726&sr=1-6

If you’d like to read the Kindle* version and take advantage of the discounted audiobook bundle pricing, here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Trauma-Through-Self-Parenting-Co-Dependency/dp/B00BFDECDC/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1434838669

*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

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







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.

Remember:

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 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!







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.

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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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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