The remaining six myths carried over from my last posting are about teenage courage. They are applicable to women of all ages.
4. Girls outgrow and courageously overcome the need to gossip or start rumors about each other. No one wants to feel left out in the cold. Gossip and rumors do not end when you “grow up” and start work. These negative practices end with taking responsibility for your actions, admitting that you have done it to other girls and understanding what it feels like when it has been done to you.
What can you do? The last thing you want to do is hold a grudge. Do not allow your feelings to fester while you justify those feelings by telling your friends about the injustice of the situation. Before you become a martyr, put petty jealousies behind you. Angela Cortez says, “It takes courage for a teen to refuse to go with the crowd and avoid recording artists who degrade women in their music.” Find the courage to carry on in the face of complications.
5. Girls rarely bully each other. Unfortunately, girls do bully each other; then, they grow up and bully people at work. Doctors Gary and Ruth Namie started The Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute years ago. Gary told me, “Fifty-eight percent of bullies are women, and of that fifty-eight percent, approximately eighty-seven percent are women bullying women. Sadly, when the bully finds his or her target, the target pays with his or her job.” It can be as simple as not returning a smile, saying hello or giving the “evil eye.”
Most of the time, it is the loudest and pushiest who set the bully standards for the group. (Unchecked, these same teens demonstrate the same tendencies as adults—e.g., overly zealous behaviors or entitlement). These behaviors do not stop simply because someone graduates from high school or college. Bullying is cruel and unacceptable behavior. The cruelty of children to children is real and it happens at a developmental stage when children are most vulnerable. Preventing bullying, no matter what form it takes, demands personal courage.
What can you do? Determine your real agenda. Is the bullying about you, or is it intended to silence and overpower others? Tell the bully that they cannot talk to you that way. Even though you cannot control the person, you have at least expressed your boundary, and that takes courage. A teenager’s situation is about not letting the bully keep the power; then, the drama starts to diminish. I had to speak up to a female participant who was belittling me. I said, “Excuse me. You don’t get to speak to me that way. I am happy to talk to you, but not with that tone.” Everyone wants to feel accepted, so let us all recognize that trying to overpower other girls only degrades us all.
6. Cliques and “pecking order” are only a teen phenomena. Girls readily adopt social manipulation tactics, and the mechanisms of this manipulation, the cliques, continue into adulthood. Most girls have an enduring need to belong, and “cliques form a raft to help us navigate life’s choppy waters. And by their nature, cliques almost always follow an internal chain of command with others allowing those with the most perceived power to lead—even if what the leaders are doing makes us uncomfortable. Didn’t we leave all that stuff behind long ago, in junior high?,” writes Jenny Dream in a Denver Post article “The Clique that Grows Up.” Not exactly!
What can you do? Speak up to end the perception that we are not all equal. David Hawkins, M.D. wrote in Truth vs Falsehood, “Appearance is not essence, perception is not reality, and the cover is not the book. Error is quite often convincing, which is an unpleasant fact to consider and accept. Everyone secretly believes that their own personal view of the world is ‘real,’ factual and true.” Be fierce and devoted friends to each other.
Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE, trainer and courage coach. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit www.sandrawalston.com.
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert
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