Are You a Mean Girl?
A few weeks ago I was sitting in the midst of a women’s group I’m in where I happen to be a solid decade younger than the youngest member (besides me, of course). I like the age disparity for several reasons: 1) I get to talk about new things like empty nesting and hot flashes; 2) I’m challenged into seasoned wisdom; and 3) It diversifies my personal life and helps me as a therapist for women. One of the gals in her 50s was sharing a personal story of being attacked by a girlfriend when she added as a side note, “you know how we ladies can be, there’s a mean girl in all of us…”
Wait, what?! Oh gosh I certainly hope not. In fact, the basis of my therapy practice is to push back against the mean and ugly parts of us that seep out when we have unaddressed self-hatred and unworthiness. I believe that when we have addressed those false messages that we deserve nothing but rejection or abandonment, then true kindness and compassion for others can ensue.
As an adult it is sad to see “mean girls” pop up at any age past 13. Yet, they seem to be all around. Here are some “mean girl” indicators to check ourselves with and work toward changing.
- Gossiping. Whether we are talking about someone close or a tertiary friend, let’s challenge ourselves on knowing the real motive behind this conversation. Is this for entertainment or to truly help this person? If they were listening in would they feel cared for or hurt?
- Passive Aggression. When we put a sweet smile on our face and then ignore, avoid or hold quiet anger toward one another that does nothing but hurt all parties. It is an indicator of struggle with voicing our pain with a confidence that we can be heard. It is a subtle and sneaky way to hurt others and hope to not be caught in our mean girl spirit.
- Criticism. We may criticize out loud or in our heads, but the ugliness of our hearts is one and the same. We criticize from a place of insecurity, shame and our ownership of incompetency. I’ve loved seeing some of my clients work through deep misconstrued ideas about their bodies. As I’ve seen them evolve into true appreciation for all their physical intricacies, criticism of other women has dissolved. It’s freeing for everybody.
- Bullying. This is a tricky one for us women since most of us don’t come at each others’ throats in a literal sense. Yet, it still occurs through harsh language, aggressiveness and lack of empathy. Another subtle way we bully is by not taking responsibility for our stuff. Instead, we ask each other to coffee or invite each other into the safety of our homes and then have at it. We say it’s out of love, when in fact, it may be projection, misplacement of our own insecurities and so much more. Mismanaging our own self-work is bullying, hurtful, and mean.
- Exclusion. With groups of ladies, let’s work toward including every women, even when they communicate, socialize and live differently than the majority. Let’s challenge ourselves and see what they can teach us about relationships and graciousness. Let’s lean into awkward or uncomfortable conversation and show one another the nice girl that’s in all of us.
So what do you think? Are you a mean girl? I’m not, and I’m guessing you’re not either. However, I hope this challenges all of us to squash the myth that we’re all mean girls and convicts the smaller parts of us that feel provoked to meanness at times. If you are ready to challenge yourself with the points discussed above or find yourself in a pattern of relationships with these types of people I invite you to contact me to explore more.
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone”
– Audrey Hepburn