by Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo
You hear about Mean Girls all the time. Mean Girls in the hallways of junior high. Mean Girls in the conference room or at the PTA meeting. People even make big bucks off of glamorizing and exploiting Mean Girl behavior. Think The Real Housewives of (insert your favorite city). If we are smart we try and steer clear.
But there is one Mean Girl that no woman can escape.
Meet 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.
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 person we women bully the most is ourselves. Our girls are doing it too, starting at the age of 6! We are in the midst of a self-bullying epidemic. And the culprit behind it is your Inner Mean Girl.
The good news is there is a cure. Much like outer mean girls, Inner Mean Girls can be reformed.
Step number one is to get to know your particular type of Inner Mean Girl and how she operates within you. Over the past 5 years, after working with over 30,000 women and girls around the world, we have discovered 13 distinct types of Inner Mean Girls that specifically torment and sabotage those of us of the female gender.
We’ve listed five of the most common Inner Mean Girl Archetypes here along with their toxic habits – see if any 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 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.
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.
Now that we've begun outing your Inner Mean Girl, your 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.
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.
Christine Arylo and Amy Ahlers are the best-selling co-authors of Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself & Start Loving Yourself. (www.InnerMeanGirlBook.com) To find out what kind of Inner Mean Girl is sabotaging you take the free and fun Inner Mean Girl quiz at www.InnerMeanGirlQuiz.com