You hear about Mean Girls all the time. Mean Girls in the hallways of junior high. Mean Girls at work, in the carpool, even among your 'friends.' People even make big bucks off of glamorizing and exploiting Mean Girl behavior. Think "The Real Housewives of (insert your favorite city)." If you are smart, you try and steer clear of these catty, competitive women.
But there is one Mean Girl that no woman can escape.
Your INNER Mean Girl.
She's the force that lives inside of you that fills your head with negative thoughts, bullies you into making self-sabotaging choices, and can make even the most successful woman feel like crap in two seconds flat.
She bullies you into working more, doing more and saying yes when you should say no. She's a pro at making you feel inferior by comparing you to others, pointing out what you haven't yet accomplished and judging you by totally unrealistic standards.
She's the one behind your obsessive thinking, worrying, and perfectionism, and the one who makes you eat/spend/drink too much and ask too little for what you need and what you are worth.
Any of this sounding familiar? Ugh! We women are so HARD on ourselves.
And it gets even worse, our girls are doing it too, starting at the age of 6! We are in the midst of a self-bullying epidemic. But we aren't talking about it or being honest about it... because we are trying so darn hard to look like we have it all together, when what we really need is to transform these Inner Mean Girls into supportive instead of sabotaging forces within us.
I haven't met a woman yet who doesn't have an Inner Mean Girl -- even Oprah admits to having one. After all of her success, she still has an inner mean girl that bullies her about her body.
At the deepest level, your Inner Mean Girl is a reflection of the things within yourself that you can't be with -- fear, shame, anger, disappointment, sadness, rejection, not feeling loved -- that subconsciously you are trying to avoid feeling, but are in fact running you and ultimately sabotaging the happiness and success you work so hard for.
The good news is there is a cure for self bullying. Much like outer mean girls, your Inner Mean Girl can be reformed.
Step number one is to get to know your particular type of Inner Mean Girl and how she operates within you. While it is really obtuse and even scary to try and relate to things like fear, shame and rejection... relating to your Inner Mean Girl gives you access to these parts of yourself in ways that you can relate to... and so can begin to transform.
Over the past five years, after working with over 30,000 women and girls around the world at Inner Mean Girl Reform School, we have discovered 13 distinct types of Inner Mean Girls that specifically torment and sabotage those of us of the female gender.
I've listed seven of the most common Inner Mean Girl Archetypes here along with their toxic habits -- see which of these ring true for you (and notice that while all Inner Mean Girls are pushy, not all Inner Mean Girls are mean -- some are sneaky, they appear helpful and good but it's self-sabotage city all the way!)
Do you have an Inner:
The Achievement Junkie is the pushy, relentless force that drives you hard to get to a goal you will never reach because the finish line just keeps moving. Her job is to keep you addicted to pursuing goals by fooling you into believing that there is a magical destination that will indicate you have finally arrived, where you can rest, stop working so hard and be enough. She makes you exhaust yourself and robs you of receiving the success and happiness from all your hard work.
The Comparison Queen is your inner judge who assesses the success of your life by comparing you to other people or to where she thinks you should be, or used to be, which in her eyes is never enough. She makes you feel like an inadequate failure or like you are falling behind and not measuring up.
The Doing Addict is an inner taskmaster and slave driver who makes sure you are always busy doing something. She makes sure you don't rest, relax or play until your work is done or the items on the to-do list are checked off (which they never are). She makes your mind run constantly with all the to-dos, making you stressed out, frenzied, always reacting to the outside world's demands. She's a real pain in the you know what when it comes time to go to sleep or slow down -- she'll keep you up at night running to do lists like CNN ticker tapes in your head.
The Good Girl is an inner people-pleaser who is desperately afraid that no one will like her or love her if she doesn't do what people expect of her or if she doesn't give to others before she takes care of herself. She makes you give more time, money and energy than you have to give and she stifles your true feelings and emotions. She sacrifices your happiness and needs to take care of others, and then makes you feel resentful and angry about it later.
The Head Tripper is the rational, practical skeptic whose job it is to discount your intuition and anything that feels too "touchy-feely" or "woo-woo." She prides herself on your ability to not cry, to be unshakable and to keep your emotions under wraps. She makes you feel weak for having emotions, and she makes you give up on your dreams because they aren't "realistic." She will keep you from going for your dreams or making the big personal shifts you need to make by telling you are being irrational, or by making fun of people who are 'spiritual.'
Overly Optimistic, Partying Cheerleader
The Overly Optimistic, Partying Cheerleader is the one who tells you that everything will work out for you, even if you are about to dive headfirst into a self-sabotaging choice. Her job is to make you feel good and happy in the moment, consequences be damned -- it's all about instant gratification. Spend the money, you don't have. Eat the food, you know won't be good for you. Have another glass of wine. She cajoles you into making choices you later regret.
The Worrywart is the professional worrier and runner of worst-case scenarios, who loves to fill your mind with all the bad things that could happen. Her job is to keep you living in a heightened state of fear and anxiety. She makes you feel unsafe, unsure, and uncertain, filling your head with crazy thoughts making you anxious, upset, or scared.
As I was writing my new book Reform Your Inner Mean Girl, I reflected on how awesome it would have been if I had been able to be an observer to these parts of me as I was growing up and navigating school, dating, choosing a college, working my way up the ladder. I know I could have made better choices for myself.
I have five inner Mean Girls -- an Achievement Junkie, Rejection Queen, Comparison Queen, Doing Addict and Invincible Super Woman. Thankfully, all reformed, meaning that instead of being a victim to the negative thinking they create or the actions they try to push me into doing (mostly over working, over doing, pushing myself to be farther ahead) -- I can observe what's happening inside of me, transform the fear/doubt/shame/anger and make better choices.
To expose and start reforming your Inner Mean Girl, the next step is to start noticing when she shows up and tries to hijack your mind, body and reactions. Instead of being a victim to the negative self-talk or the fear producing feelings or the sabotaging reactions, or thinking that this is just who you are and how you work, stop and realize that you are under "Inner Mean Girl Attack."
Inner Mean Girls show up most in times of stress, uncertainty and fear, and when you are stretching yourself or feeling vulnerable.
Mine have sure been showing up during this book launch for Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself -- thankfully though I know how to talk to them, relate to them and most importantly settle them down!
As you become more aware of your Inner Mean Girl and her tricks and triggers, you'll begin to become an observer of, rather than a victim of her.
And that's the beginning of shifting your inner reality from one in which you are a bully to yourself, to one in which you are a best friend.