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