Lessons From Rehab: Run Your Girly Thoughts Through a Car Wash

June 30th, 2017 | Posted by Patricia O'Gorman, PhD in Body Image | Girly Thoughts | Women's Issues

I am lucky to live in a community that offers a variety of spiritual experiences. Last Sunday, after I went to my formal religious observance, I attended a weekly spirituality group conducted by residents in a long-term alcohol and drug rehabilitation center near where I live. The theme for this day was Surrender.


Singing, Dancing, and a Car Wash



Residents sang original songs and covered popular ones. Some spontaneous dancing included someone who imitated Bruno Mars and outdid the real Bruno Mars. In short, it was lots of fun. But the fun was amid some tears.

When we returned to sharing, I was surprise to hear a resident offer that he had learned surrender meant he had to do more than go to a car wash if he wanted to be clean and sober.

Car wash?

He shared that he had been to several rehabs that helped him look good on the outside, but this one—the one where this meeting was held—was the first that showed him how to detail himself on the inside.

Hmm …


Next Up: Girly Thoughts


The men laughed knowingly at his insight, but the women … well, with us it hit a different cord. Our reaction was more of a shudder, because as women we are so conditioned to pay attention to the outside.

Think about it. You receive ongoing messages about being thin, staying young, smiling constantly, and you internalize this into what I’ve named girly thoughts: your own toxic soup of blame, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that distract you from realizing that “perfection” isn’t about looking perfect on the outside, but about taking care of yourself on the inside.

You may have been one of the women who (like many in this rehab) tried to silence this toxic self-talk through booze or drugs, eventually finding that drugging this voice doesn’t work. Coming to that realization helps you understand that if you really want to be seen as beautiful, you need to treat yourself … well, beautifully, and not beat yourself up.

How to do this?


Car Washing Your Insides


Do you really want to take better care of your car than you do of yourself?

Of course not. You know you deserve better.

So try this:

  • Every time you put on lip gloss or fluff your hair, take a moment and make a commitment to yourself to challenge one of your girly thoughts. Maybe one that says, You’d better put on that lip gloss or you’re going to look gross. Wear your lip gloss because you want to—maybe it tastes good, maybe you feel brighter with it on—but let the motivation to wear it come from you, not from a have to.
  • Every time you look in the mirror and tell yourself I’m fat, say to yourself, That’s a girly thought. Replace it by saying, I like my curves; only real women have them.
  • Every time you feel you’ve earned that beer, shot, or glass of wine because you feel so beat up by your job, your kids, or your man, ask yourself if numbing yourself is a way to handle this. Then ask yourself if maybe you can come up with a better plan to change the situation you find yourself in that isn’t working for

Yes, you can car wash your insides by no longer indulging your girly thoughts. Now wouldn’t that improve your ride through life!







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.

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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.

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