Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for you to take a compliment? Why you tend to disparage your achievements while men more readily acknowledge theirs?
Well, stop beating yourself up. The answer is that you have learned to do to yourself what society does to you: criticize yourself endlessly so that nothing you do is ever enough.
And you have gone one step further and internalized all these value judgements into a negative self-talk that I’ve dubbed girly thoughts. Why give this process such a ridiculous name? So that you can identify when you are doing this. The name is obnoxious but memorable, and reminds you to tell yourself to stop.
Even Olympians Are Treated Poorly
In case you think having girly thoughts is just something you or your girlfriends do, tune into the Olympic coverage for examples of how we all continue to be conditioned not to celebrate the best that is in us.
Let’s face it: for a woman athlete, being in the Olympics is just terrific. The hours of dedication, strength building, skill building, early-morning practices, and travel result in the sacrifice of not being with friends, missing school events, even being unable to attend a community school. These sacrifices all come together to create an extraordinarily focused young woman.
But if you listen to media coverage of our medal winners, you will hear that even these champions still have their personal bests stolen or minimized by the media:
- The U.S. women’s gymnastic team was described as looking like they were “standing in the middle of a mall” after their utter annihilation of the competition during the qualifying round.
- Swimmer Katina Hosszu’s world record-breaking win in the 400-meter individual medley was credited on air to her husband.
- Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s bronze medal-winning performance in the women’s trap shooting event was barely mentioned in a major article focusing on her husband’s position in the NFL.
- and the list goes on.
What to do?
- Celebrate your favorite women Olympians by loudly giving them all the credit they so richly deserve on all your social media sites.
- Take on the media in their persistent negating of the accomplishments of women earning a medal by Tweeting or Facebooking your disgust.
- Use your anger at what the media does with women to also help you catch and stop yourself when you are thinking a girly thought—such as it will be too hard o find a man if I’m too successful.
So think like an Olympian and shrug off the negativity that surrounds your accomplishments. Strut your stuff, and don’t listen to those girly thoughts that tell you not to try something because it’s too . . . BIG. Celebrate everything you are, and go for that gold!
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.