Press-Republican

October 8, 2013

Fight "girly thoughts" to win success

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Women often allow "girly thoughts" to sabotage their lives and careers.

That was part of the message as nationally recognized psychologist and author Dr. Patricia O'Gorman addressed a packed house at A Celebration of Women in Business, held recently at the West Side Ballroom.

She said women too frequently internalize social conventions such as a perceived need to be thinner, prettier, younger or less assertive.

"This is how as women we dis-empower ourselves," O'Gorman told her audience.

Those thoughts at work set up a negative internal dialogue, she said, which can cause women to turn from who they are and even to self-medicate, whether with unhealthy food, alcohol, drugs or even too much exercise.

It is also one of the reasons there is more depression among women than men, she said.

'DOUBLE STANDARD'

Women frequently fall into one of two categories, she said.

The "too" group, she explained, is made up of those who feel they are too big, too strong or too assertive to be loved, while the "not enough" group is made up of those who feel they are too short or have smaller physical attributes.

While men and women focus on getting the job done in the workplace, women also dwell on how they are seen as they do so.

Both sexes tend to juggle work with other thoughts. For women, those are likely to be the kids, laundry and other housework, while for men it's more likely to be sports and sex, she said.

If a man shows up at work with his child's spit-up on his clothes, O'Gorman offered as an example, people think it's wonderful he helped with the baby.

If a woman does the same, the reaction is more likely to be: 'Why didn't she change her clothes?

'BE MORE RESILIENT'

O'Gorman said even as a psychologist, she experiences such thoughts. She recently had surgery to remove a cancerous growth from her face and thought about canceling her appearance in Plattsburgh because she'd have a bandage in that very visible location.

Learning to be more resilient is a key to overcoming those thoughts. Another way is to be more aware of and reliant on your own strengths, she said.

A technique to help identify a "girly thought" is to tell yourself: Thank you for sharing, but I'm not interested in that.

"This is stuff we do to ourselves, which means we can undo it," O'Gorman said.

POWER IN THE ROOM

New York State Sen. Betty Little said she was impressed by the turnout for the presentation.

"You can not imagine the power I felt walking through the doors into this room," she said.

She said 30 years ago, such an event probably would have only attracted enough people to fill a few tables.

"It's important we get women in government, but it's really important we get women in business," Little said.

State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said it was phenomenal to see the large crowd attending the event.

"We've come a long way in the North Country, but we've got a long way to go," she said.

Assemblyman Dan Stec said that, as a freshman assemblyman, he has received tremendous support and advice from Little, Duprey and former Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com