Woman to Woman: 7 Ways of Dealing with the Adult “Mean Girls” in your life

by DrRobyn on June 1, 2011

Robyn purple web Woman to Woman: 7 Ways of Dealing with the Adult Mean Girls in your lifeThere are times when I still feel it. Do you?

Every once in a while we feel that “mean girl” vibe coming from a woman in our life.  We somehow feel awkward, and small and school-girlish despite the fact that we haven’t done anything of which to be ashamed or apologetic.  But it’s there.  Others sometimes pick up on it too.

Which is absurd, isn’t it?

I mean, here we are, grown women, and the passive-aggressive tones and implications somehow haven’t completely dissipated.  I’ve discussed this with some of my closest friends and they tell me they feel it too sometimes.  They still are in situations where they experience that icky “cast out” or “overlooked” feeling.  It feels empty and ugly and sour. It makes us feel alone.

Many of us are in love relationships in which we feel cherished. Some of us have the most beautiful friendships with women as well. And yet, when someone makes us feel less than, even from across the miles—even if they don’t know us all that well, sometimes, we buy into it. Our stomach flips a bit. You know that feeling? Ugh; I do. We may ruminate for a while: What’s wrong with me? Why don’t they SEE me for who I really am? Why don’t they like me?

We thrive on connection.  And while many of us wish it wasn’t true, we do like to be liked.  We enjoy being appreciated.  But most of all, we want to be validated.  Feel worthy.  And when someone trumps this—even in the most subtle way—it can rock us.

It certainly has happened to me.  Has it happened to you?

When this happens, I try to keep this in mind:

(1) Be grateful for the ones you got: I feel fortunate to have women in my life who I truly feel a sense of connection.  There is no fake pretenses and time spent with them is easy.  We talk. We laugh. We share. We wear our hair up and sit there in our PJs. It’s a good thing. Let your mind linger there when you are feeling “less than” and realize that there are people in your life who see you for the beautiful, amazing, interesting person you are and wouldn’t want to change a thing.

(2) Realize that it may not be what you think: Sometimes this feeling comes from your own past experiences with a completely different woman or girl.  We place what is said or done in a context of a completely different scenario—because that’s the way it was with someone else—but it may not be that way in this case.  Of course, it may be a direct dig on you too—but that, too, may not be due to anything you did.  It may be something having to do with that person, her insecurities, pet peeves, or jealousies. It’s a hard one to accept, of course, but the problem is likely not you.

(3) Approach them about it: This is not grade school or middle school.  We are adult women and each one of us has the ability to be assertive and expressive. I’m not saying it’s always easy.  However, there was a women in my life who approached me about something that was bothering her some time ago and it was wonderful to be able to discuss it out in the open, be accountable for my contribution to it, and move on from it. The opportunity to talk and connect is a gift—share it.

(4) Pin point your contribution to the problem: If you have a fall out with a woman, ask yourself how you might have played a part in it.  It is rarely ALL someone else’s issue.  Your contribution may have been skewed or misinterpreted. You may have done something hurtful without realizing it.  You still may have had a role in the breakdown of communication or connection.  Think about it.  Then discuss it.

(5) Discuss the general issue with other women: I’m not saying you should gossip.  That certainly isn’t a good solution in grade school and it isn’t a good solution in adulthood.  But I am finding that so many of us experience similar feelings of this sort and yet rarely admit it. Why? I spoke to one of my closest friends about this feeling and we both were so relieved that we weren’t the only ones—that we weren’t just being sensitive, immature, or weird.

(6) Ask yourself; why do you need validation from THIS woman? Sometimes it’s because you admire something she does in her life– other times the person is well-regarded, well-liked, and attractive in some way. Perhaps it’s because, at one point, you felt like you had a true connection and it somehow disappeared. But do you NEED this person to make you feel worthy? We can’t hand over so much power to one person such that she governs how we feel about ourselves. Look at all that you contribute to those around you.  Take ownership of the ways you positively affect those you care about both at home and outside of the home.  Pretty great, huh? This all remains true whether this one person in your life recognizes it or not.

(7) Step away: When I was younger, I admit I would just keep going back to those who made me feel inferior and try to elevate myself in their eyes.  You don’t need to do this.  Or, let me restate that—you shouldn’t have to do this with real friends.  There are too many amazing, giving, beautiful women out there who simply ask you to be who you are without flash and without trying.  When I present to girls, I call this “spring cleaning.”  Because at the end of the day, a person who makes you feel “less than” is toxic to your well-being and to your ability to shine in your own life.  Cut this mental anchor loose and move on with your life.

It’s easier said than done sometimes.  I know—most times.  But you can do it.  Because you are THAT amazing. You can’t assume your rightful place in this world when you feel dragged down by someone else who doesn’t see you for the beautiful person you are.  You’re not perfect but you are pretty darn great.  I mean it.

And to those in my life who validate me- thank you.  I truly appreciate you and pray that I do the same for you.  You make me a better person- you lighten my load—and I feel truly blessed to know you and have the privilege of being your friend.

drrobynsig170 Woman to Woman: 7 Ways of Dealing with the Adult Mean Girls in your life

Note: More on Mean Girls and relational aggression? Check out Rachel Simmons and Rosalind Wiseman.

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