Ladies Stop Chewing
Whether you’re a SAHM, a lady boss, or a hustler; as women we tend to be our own worst critics, but why? Naturally, we are very different than our male counterparts. The difference between men and women is probably most highlighted in the work place. We often internalize. We blame ourselves first and look for what we did wrong instead of patting ourselves on the back and celebrating a job well done. Why are we are own worst critics when we know we have done the work, know the answer, or believe our ideas can work?
A little about myself: I’m an engineer in a male-dominated company. More often than not, I find myself being the only woman in the room. Early in my career, this was an intimidating environment. Not only was I the only woman, but I was the young person in the room too. I struggled with finding ways to get my ideas heard. Throughout the day, I constantly find myself going over the events and reflecting on whether I did my best. I do it so often, that I catch myself going back and reading the same emails 5 times or more to decide if my tone was right, if I made any spelling mistakes, or even to dissect the person’s response. You might think to yourself, “self-reflection is a good thing,” and I wouldn’t disagree. A little self-reflection can help us become better people in our jobs and day-to-day lives. However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors in my career to help me navigate the challenges of being the young woman in the room. One of my mentors shared a book with me by Sally Helgesen and Mashall Goldsmith called How Women Rise. The authors have trained both men and women to reach higher levels of achievement, but they found that women face specific and different roadblocks to success than men. In the book, the #1 success-killer for women is known as “ruminating.”
A ruminant is a mammal (such as a cow) that throws up cud to chew again before fully digesting their food. Sounds gross when you think of it like that, right? So, someone who ruminates is a person who relives events over and over again. Both men and women can be guilty of ruminating, but they do it differently. According to the research, men tend to blame others for what went wrong while women tend to turn the regret inward and blame themselves.
No matter what your job is, we do this to ourselves all the time! “I’m a bad mom because…” or “I wish I would have said…” or “why didn’t I do it this way…” are all negative things we say to ourselves that keep us stuck. Women tend to waste so much energy feeling bad about mistakes that the result is they are less effective in doing an otherwise great job!
“Stop ruminating” is easier said than done. If you find that you are being unkind to yourself, try to reset your thoughts. Change your focus from “what went wrong?” to asking yourself “what went right?” If you still cannot stop thinking about a mistake, instead change your focus to action. Identify the problem and take action on a plan to solve the issue.