Sara Herstich, LCSW in her Huffington Post article, When We Tear One Woman Down, We Tear All Women Down, argues that it’s time to break that “mean girl” stereotype and that instead, women need to support and hold each other up. She says, “When we support and stand up for one another, we break the mold and give ourselves the space to lean into deeper social issues.” This got me thinking about whether or not I support other women.
I sometimes gossip about other women but it usually makes me feel uncomfortable. Putting others down to pull myself up is something I try to avoid. Often, the urge to put others down comes from our insecurities and anxieties.
My aversion to talking badly about others began way back in junior high. I had two friends who would always gossip about the one who wasn’t there. I was a kid who wasn’t sure where she into the world. So, when my friends drew me in with their confidences I felt like I was really a part of something. They were sharing secrets with me! I would then join in and gossip about the friend who was absent.
One day I was putting books into my book bag; I was crouched down and around the corner at the top of a flight of stairs. My two friends were coming up the stairs and they were talking about me. They were complaining that I had been talking about another girl who was new to the school. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach twice. My friends were gossiping about me. They thought I wasn’t being fair to the new girl. They said I talked badly about her and then turned around and was nice to her face. They thought I was being a “mean girl.” I remember standing up and looking at them as they walked up the steps. They were surprised I was there and stopped talking immediately. We never talked about what they’d said but it stuck with me. I felt bad that I’d treated someone so carelessly. After that incident I remained friends with them through junior high, but I worked hard to stop participating in the gossip.
Let’s Change It Up
I haven’t always held my ground about bad-mouthing other women and it’s not something I’m proud of. I find that I can still get sucked into talking about other women, and it always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. In this new year, I’ve made the intention to be more real, to be more vocal about my needs and to truly show up in my life. By letting go of the habit of putting others down I’ll be supporting other women and I’ll be showing up for myself.
Let’s make an intention; that instead of feeding off of our own insecurities, we hold each other up. Let’s celebrate community. Let's be kind. Let’s not get dragged into old patterns of behavior. Let’s create new ways to be in the world by supporting each other and looking for our commonalities instead of our differences.
Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose.