There are certain weapons that people use against women—what I like to call weapons of mass detriment (WMDs)—that keep women from standing their ground.
WMDs play into women’s insecurities, and they’re highly disrespectful. Many of my clients and friends have had to fight against such tactics at some point in their careers.
How many times have you expressed a strong thought, feeling or desire at work and had someone marginalize you with a condescending statement, look or gesture indicating you were wrong, or two emotional, or even hysterical?
Women are prone to believing they’re wrong—even when they are not. That should come as no surprise. We are subjected to constant challenges to our competency that make it easy to doubt ourselves.
As girls, we are taught to be “ladylike”—in other words, use passive body language and speech. As women, we might come off as less confident and less competent than we are because of that passivity and behavioral style. Outdated modes of thinking and subconscious reinforcement of old stereotypes by others might be working against us too.
However, there’s a pronounced difference between being gracious and putting yourself in the wrong, or in the inferior position, time and again.
Many women have a running inner dialogue that questions and counters their instinctive (and often healthier) reactions to uncomfortable situations. This is a habit like any other unhealthy habit.
Amy Cuddy, a lecturer at Harvard University, has researched how female body language usurps our power and decreases the respect others have for us. We do this with our speech too.
Building a healthy inner dialogue will help you stay strong in the face of discouragement, opposition and disappointment. It might take some practice, though, to put away your own outdated thinking. Focus on staying firm in the present. This is a fresh start.
The frame of mind that comes with practicing a healthy inner dialogue helps you focus on appropriate actions and a sound response to opposition.
Cherilynn Veland is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and author living in Chicago. If you liked this post, you’ll love Cherilynn’s book. You can buy “Stop Giving It Away” from Barnes & Noble.