I need to admit something to you.
I have an inner mean girl lurking inside of me. She is mean to others, and especially mean to myself.
For those of you that know me, you probably think that I am talking nonsense, but if you could only see inside my head, then you would know the truth.
This is how it started:
Back in 6th grade, I started middle school with all of my old elementary school friends. A new school meant new teachers, new friendships, and new hierarchies. I quickly found out where I belonged, and where I didn’t.
Shortly after school started, I was out on the playground and a girl that I knew, but wasn’t friends with, decided to humiliate me. She skipped around me saying, “I am going around the nerd. I am going around the nerd.” I was mortified and ran inside in tears.
Obviously, I haven’t forgotten.
From that moment on, I slowly developed my inner mean girl. She was powered by my insecurity and humiliation. If girls were going to be mean to me, then I was going to be mean to them right back--I just chose to be mean to them inside my own head (at least most of the time.)
For a long time, if you hadn’t permeated my inner circle, then you had better watch out. I was most likely ripping you apart inside my head. Tearing you down so that I could feel powerful and I could feel like I was better than you. Stack ranking our qualities, so that I would always end up on top. If I thought you were prettier or skinnier, or better dressed, then I made up all sorts of stories about all the other reasons I was better than you.
Without even know it, we were in competition, and I was going to win.
Thank goodness my own coach helped me see the light. Through our work together I learned that whenever I was in a new situation, feeling a little uncomfortable, or feeling insecure, my mean girl persona would come out to protect me.
I am slowly learning how to suppress her mean spirit.
Unfortunately, I know that there are plenty of girls and women out there who have their own inner mean girl, just like I do.
Tara Mohr, another coach, and the author of Playing Big said this in an interview in Goop:
In any society, the people within a marginalized or low-power group end up taking out that pain and anger on each other through in-group conflict. Women today are grappling with our own form of this. To the extent that women are each not fully empowered ourselves—that we are still denying our own dreams or treating ourselves harshly—we will criticize, attack, and try to sabotage other women, because it rattles us to see in them what we have not permitted in ourselves. We will lash out if we see something emerging or expressed in another woman that we have squashed in ourselves. We won’t wholeheartedly support another woman following her passion if we’ve talked ourselves out of our own. We won’t support her idealism and desire to change the world if we treat our own idealism with judgment or harshness. We can’t celebrate success, ambition, assertiveness in another woman if we are curtailing any of that in ourselves.
I couldn’t agree with her more. We feel powerless, and rather than assert control over our own destiny and play bigger, we assert power over each other so we can feel better about ourselves. It's actually pretty crappy.
So what is the answer? How do we drop our mean girl routine?
For me it was a multi-step process:
Do I still compare myself to other women? Sure do (though I try not to). Do I still think mean thoughts? Sometimes. Do I still rip them apart in my head? If I am really struggling, then yes.
I am a work in progress, but I am so thankful that I hired a coach and became aware of this dirty little secret of mine. Without realizing it, I was disconnecting myself from half the population. Rather than create community, I was creating competition. All because of my own insecurities.
Do you have a mean girl lurking inside of your mind? Is she mean to everyone or just you? Can you take the steps to kick her to the curb?
I promise that it will open up your world to new friendships, new connections, and new possibilities.
It's Your Life. Live It Boldly.