You may not notice what is obvious: Both you and your mother have many strengths. You may be too conditioned by your girly thoughts to appreciate your mom’s resilience, her ability to bounce back from adversity. But who was your first influence in developing your own resilience? Your mother!
What are girly thoughts? you ask. Girly thoughts is the uncomfortable name I’ve given to what women do: we focus on faults in ourselves and in other women our mothers, even our daughters; we do to ourselves what society at large does to us, and that negative, self-defeating talk harms us and keeps us from our power.
Pre-Spanx: The Girdle
When I think of my mother, I remember so many stories. Many of them are now funny, like when my mother and I were shopping for a girdle for me.
Remember, this was pre-Spanx; this was girdle time, and my mother thought a girdle was a necessity . . . except we couldn’t quite find one small enough to fit my tall and (at that time) lanky frame.
“Why do I need a girdle?” I remember hissing at her in a store.
“Because you don’t want to spread.” Not a reason my eleven-year-old self felt was valid, but my mother was adamant. She bought me a girdle that hung off my hips. But she was happy. She had done her job. She was helping her five foot five inch, ninety-pound eleven-year-old not spread.
This is why I was so excited to see how someone I so admire—Audra McDonald, the beautiful, funny opera singer—is delighted by her mother’s strength, both physical and emotional.
Honoring Our Mothers
Who was my mother? She was a funny, unconventional woman who was also a product of her times, where her very own girly thoughts said women had to be thin to be desirable. And she loved me enough to fight with me over wearing a girdle to achieve this.
So let’s have fun. Make a list of some of the girly thoughts your mother raised you believing because she believed them:
Now write how you counter these girly thoughts today:
Remember that your mother did what she thought was best for you, just like you are doing with your daughter, your friends, your grandchildren. The important thing to remember is that you now have the ability to change the girly thoughts you wished your mother had the wisdom to do when you were a girl.
Drop me a line and share what girly thoughts your mother had as you think of her this Mother’s Day.
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.