Therapy That Works...

The Phenomenon of Mature Women - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It’s Complicated—The Phenomenon of Mature Women

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, January 12, 2010

“It’s Complicated,” the popular new Meryl Streep movie is once again illustrating how older women are taking the world by storm.

Here’s why so many women relate to Meryl Streep’s character:

Social Revolution: Meryl Streep’s character is a prime example of the social revolution that is sweeping the nation. Women have redefined aging. No longer are we held to antiquated definitions of attractiveness—youth, fertility, and tight skin. At midlife, we move into our most productive years, both personally and professionally.

New Power: Now, just like men, we acquire power and allure by achievement. Our accomplishments, complexity and history are now defined as assets rather than as liabilities. This movie showed that an older woman could trump a younger women on the social playing field. We can partner with men of assorted ages—young and old— or we can play the field solo if we prefer. Partnering is an option, not a mandate.

New Timeline, New Dreams: The MacArthur Foundation reports that by 2050, life expectancy for women will rise to up to 94 years. We now regard the 50s and 60s as “middle” age and a passage of life that is full of adventure, reinvention and excellence. Streep’s character reminded us of the empowerment that comes with this stage of life.

Meryl’s character entertains multiple suitors within the film, which begs the question: do women become more passionate as they age?

More Sensual with the Years: Women become more sensual as they mature and this is especially true of boomer women who led the sexual revolution. They are more at ease with their bodies, enjoy more self-acceptance and have less attachment to social definitions of beauty. They know their bodies better and they take their intimate needs more seriously.

Passion Begins in the Mind: Passion begins in a woman’s mind and it is a product of her self-confidence and experience. As her thinking become more sophisticated, her passion increases and she may enjoy sensuality more. If she is married, she invests more deeply in her partner and is often willing to be fully physically and emotionally vulnerable, often for the first time. If she is single, she chooses her partners more carefully and is a wiser evaluator of other’s intentions.

This trend of empowered older women was made possible by the economic opportunities.

Money Talks: The economic empowerment of women over the last fifty years was certainly a facilitator of these social trends. No longer dependent on the support of a man, millions of women crafted spectacular careers and took the reins of their fate into their own hands. Their social and psychological transformation accelerated as their incomes increased.

Global Economy Shifted Women: The shift in the global economy has had a lot to do with the increase in female power. Brains count more than brawn now. As manufacturing decreased, the service industries increased and women rose to the challenge. We have fared especially well in the recession and now comprise over 50%of the labor force.

Education and Innovation: Women are more educated and enjoy the modern innovations in communication and domestic technology that make it possible to work outside of the home. Washboards have been replaced by motherboards and women have derived untold freedoms from a world that increasingly rewards them for smarts, drive and persistence.

Ladies, here’s what you can do to be maximally empowered in midlife:

Social Ties are Cheap Medicine: Women have to remember how you age is often under their control. Stay connected with your friends since studies show that social ties are essential to longevity. In fact, a study by the MacArthur Foundation reported that “ the influence of genetics shrinks proportionately as you get older, while social and physical habits become increasingly integral to your state of health—both mental and physical.”

Attitude is Everything: Optimism pays off and a recently release study of 97,000 women older than 50 reported that optimists were 9% less likely to develop heart disease and 14% less likely to die from it.

Shifting to a Brighter Outlook: Take the following three steps:

1.) Commit to a Cause Greater than Yourself

2.) Control the factors you can influence and disregard the rest.

3.) Challenge yourself to view setbacks as surmountable and problems as solvable.

For more information about Dr. Sylvia, please go to www.gearingup.com

Sources:

“Researchers ask why optimism is associated with health, pessimism with disease” The Washington Post, January 12, 2010, Carolyn Butler

“Women and Work: We Did It!” The Economist, January 2010

“Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Pursuing the Passionate Life” by Gail Sheehy, 2006

How Women Should Talk So Men Will Listen - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Women Should Talk So Men Will Listen

October 21, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News 

How can a woman talk so a man will listen? With unprecedented numbers of women now working, our communication skills with men have never been more important. Let me shed some light on how to crack the communication code with men.

My female clients ask me all the time, “Why is it so hard to communicate effectively with the men at work?”

Men and Women Use Language Differently: Men seem to be as confused as we are about how to communicate with us. There are fundamental gender differences in how men and women use language. Men use it to impart information (report talking) and we use it to establish and maintain relationships (rapport). Both language styles are effective but inevitably conflict in a high stakes workplace.

Gender Context, Impact and Intention: The bottom line is that both genders use their own gender specific rules to interpret verbal interactions. We disregard the fact that the verbiage of the opposite sex has it’s own gender specific context, impact and intention. Men understand other men very well but become frustrated with the unwritten rules of female conversation. Women think they say one thing and men hear something entirely different. As a result, both genders lose the opportunity to influence a business outcome optimally.

Disciplined Communication: According to Catalyst, women hold only 3% of the CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies so women have a long way to go in sharing equal power. As a result, it has never been more important for us to position our language correctly. Female empowerment in the workplace requires disciplined communication that can be easily understood by men.

Really, the disconnect stems from the fact that both genders have primary language characteristics (i.e., they each have their own way of communication).

Here are just a few of the hundreds that exist:

Blunt Speak: Men are more direct, bottom line and less emotional than women in language usage. They listen intently until they think they get the facts. Then they make a decision to fix the problem and then they move on. They don’t talk things to death!

Women’s Intuitive Strategy: Women are brilliant in discerning social nuances. For example, men notice subtle signs of emotion (like sadness) in a face only 40% of the time. Women will pick up the signs 90% of the time even in the faces of complete strangers. So as the female leader heads into the business meeting, she is taking a depth reading of the every player in the room to optimize a business outcome. She is not being nice. She is being strategic.

Men Will Take Charge: Men tend to speak with authority and conviction even if they are unsure of the facts. They take the floor more often and hold the floor longer than women in a business setting. In fact, they interrupt more than women and control the business conversation, much to the frustration of many women.

Women Use More Disclaimers: Women often sabotage their message before they begin. They disclaim what they are saying before they say it. Comments such as “this may not make sense” are confusing to men. They are thinking that if it doesn’t make sense, why would you say it in the first place? Many men believe that women have to say something before they say it.

Ladies, here’s how to improve your verbal communication with the opposite gender at work:

Think Before You Speak: Develop a self-awareness of how you phrase your requests. Use direct, action-oriented verbs. Choose when you tilt your head according to the situation and message you want to portray. Keep your head on straight. Make eye contact with the group and always finish your statements or thoughts.

Silence is Golden: Stay quiet for a brief period before responding to a question. Sit quietly for a few seconds before you respond to a question. You may be viewed as more intelligent and thoughtful as you deliberate calmly before replying.

Stay Consistent: Make sure your nonverbal actions match your verbal messages. Watch what you wear, how you walk and what you say to everyone. Don’t be the driven employee one day and then make a scene at the Christmas party after a few too many eggnogs.

And since 70% of communication is non-verbal, here are the strategies and tips for when you aren’t speaking.

Take Dominion: Please do not take it personally when he interrupts. It’s part of the way he talks with other men. Be ready to direct the discussion back to your topic. Establish control by making brief eye contact with the interrupter. Don’t look too long, because it seems like you’re asking permission. Use the interrupter’s name, and say directly, “Steve, I wasn’t quite finished.”

Take Up Space! Make a play for more power by taking up extra physical space at the meeting table. Sit regally without crossing your arms and legs. Do not curl up in a ball but stretch out! Use gestures such as pointing (not at people) to emphasize a few key issues.

Smile Selectively: You don’t have to be smiling all the time – you’ll only diminish the meaning of your smile. Never smile when you are delivering a serious message. People will read your expression as insincere.

Mirror, Mirror: When you’re talking to your boss, particularly if you have a disagreement, do not sit with your arms and legs crossed. Instead, mirror their movements slowly. If he touches his chin, you touch your chin. When he changes position in his chair, slowly change your position to match his. Mimicking can move you closer to a sense of agreement without his ever realizing it.

Dream Big and Aim High: Always ask for what you want. When you do ask, aim high. It is much easier to come down from a position than to go up.

Poker Face: Don’t leave your poker face at home. In business dealings, use less emotion and direct your female brain to discerning the mood of everyone in the room. View every business situation as a negotiation that requires a steady hand and a clear, unemotional mind.

For More Information about Dr. Gearing, please go to www.gearingup.com

Source: “Code Switching: How to Talk So Men Will Listen,” Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. and Audrey Nelson, Ph.D.

The New Sexual Harassment - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Sexual Harassment

October 14, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Sexual harassment has been a longstanding issue in a workplace that is now comprised of fifty percent women. However, there appears to be a new, much more subtle form of sexual harassment.

So you may be wondering, how real is this new form of sexual harassment?

It is quite real and it is proliferating due to our electronic networks and conversations. There is just so much room for misinterpreting a simple comment as sinister. On the other hand, there is also a lot of misbehavior and sexual harassment that can be hidden in such conversations.

According to research, we still view men and women differently in the workplace, especially in male dominated professions. Women must over-perform and female managers and supervisors are still expected to be more nurturing and supportive than their male counterparts (Rudman & Glick, 2008). Such expectations can be very awkward when your colleague or boss invites you to a private dinner or sends an inappropriate text.

Here’s how this new form of harassment is different from the old forms:

Not So Direct, Coarse or Directly Threatening: The new sexual harassment is not so direct, not so coarse and certainly not so directly threatening. The millions of dollars spent on educating corporate America has helped. However, subtle forms can be just as insidious.

Inappropriateness and Imbalance of Power: This new form of harassment emphasizes the imbalance of power by the inappropriateness of the request or comment. For example, your boss repeatedly comments on how fantastic you look while his eyes linger much too long or he may suggest you catch drinks alone late at night.

Setting a Boundary is Hard: Different from a direct threat, there is social capital lost if you retort with a boundary, however justified you may feel. Such pressure is often systematic and undermining and contributes to a hostile work environment.

Here are my tips and suggestions for avoiding these kinds of misunderstandings:

Watch Your Timing - Please do not email late at night from your personal email if you are saying anything about the other person, professional or not. Emailing at 4 A.M. might look a little weird if you are working that late. However, the email or text becomes a potential problem if it is too flattering, too personal or too self-disclosing. If this is a problem, invest in applications such as Gmail’s “Mail Goggles.” After a certain time of night, you have to solve three simple math problems within a time limit to send your e-mail. It’ll keep you safe and make you think twice.

Watch Your Facebook Posts - Social networking sites are great but do not post anything (pictures or text) that you don’t want an employer, your entire family, your first grade teacher and the local news to see. If you want a promotion, don’t put your latest bikini pictures online! Even if you dismantle a Facebook or other profile, don’t forget that images and information are still retrievable.

Find Romance Elsewhere - Please find your soul mate in the next building. When there is an imbalance in status and authority, there are unnecessary complications. Even when such relationships exist between colleagues, the legal challenges can be daunting for a company if someone is terminated. Such romances are great when you are dating and everything is rosy. However, such alliances can become a nightmare when you break up. Be smart.

Compliment in Person - It is much better to give a complement in person when the other person can read the non-verbal cues, tone and inflection and when there are witnesses. Compliments can be badly misinterpreted, especially when they are personal and about appearance or appeal. There is much less chance for miscommunications when accolades are given in person. However, the safest strategy is to restrict your praise to their work, their initiative and team contribution. If you must comment on their appearance, keep it simple and don’t stare.

Watch What You Write Down - Be very self protective about what you text or email in a business setting. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to anticipate who might misinterpret your words and bring an action. Don’t write anything down that you cannot defend easily.

Diffusing the Bomb - Every woman in the workplace has experienced unwanted attention from co-workers or superiors. Women must be adept at diffusing the political bomb that comes when a flirty comment is made in a business setting, especially when there is an imbalance of power. If someone crosses the line with a statement like “you looked hot today” you can reply with a cordial but clear message that you are remaining professional. Acknowledge the text or email but step past the comment and focus on the business issue. The absence of an inviting verbal volley will be noticed. Reply, but do not get entangled in the harassment.

Sources Include:

Newsweek.com

Forbes, com

The Social Psychology of Gender by Laurie A. Rudman and Peter Glick, The Guildford Press, 2008

What Turns Her On - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Turns Her On: Women and Sexual Attraction

September 30, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

What attracts a woman to a man has been an elusive question for millions of men trying to “get it right.” Now a just released study from the University of Texas provides some surprising new information that may help struggling couples improve their love lives.

So, what’s so new about these findings?

First of all, it is wonderful that female sexual attraction is even being talked about. Most of the research money historically has focused on male sexuality and we have been all but ignored. Here are a few highlights of Drs. Meston and Buss’ new findings:

Complex Attraction: A woman’s attraction to a man is much more complex than we ever thought possible. Universally, the number one reason men are attracted to women is beauty. In contrast, women seem to consider many more factors in whether they like a guy. Such complex factors explain why there are some couples that, on the surface, seem highly dissimilar.

It is All In Her Head: Since the brain is the primary generator of female sexual attraction, psychological factors in female attraction are the “ballgame.” A woman not only has to be in the “mood” physically she must also “think” herself into the “mood.”

Body Image: The more a woman judges herself to be attractive, the more likely she is to report an increase in sexual responsiveness and activity over the past ten years. Again, such self-appraisal does not have to be objective—she just has to like how she looks. Unfortunately, 55% of American women express dissatisfaction with their bodies. This dissatisfaction is worse in media saturated America accounting for the $50 billion we spend on the diet industry.

A Good Man is Hard to Find: According to the study, men differ dramatically from each other in their desirability to women. Ten different women will have ten different opinions about a man’s attractiveness. This phenomenon explains why a beautiful woman is often attracted to the less attractive, but charismatic man.

Guys, here are some specific characteristics and tips to turn your woman on:

Smell of Attraction: The smell of a man is vitally important to women when it comes to basic sexual attraction. A woman’s olfactory acuity reaches its peak during ovulation.

It’s All in the Kiss: Men who are good kissers have a distinct advantage with women. Good kissing awakens a woman’s erotic interest and many women think great kissing is a clue to sexual compatibility.

Proximity: Repeated contact with someone can increase the odds of attraction exponentially. We like people as we get to know them over time.

Eye Gazing: Mutual and intense eye gazing is key for women in becoming attracted to a man. Men who sweep their eyes (respectfully) over women can be arousing. Studies have found that even with total strangers continuous “eye lock” can lead to attraction.

The Exotic Becomes Erotic: Although we like the guy next door who is available as a potential long-term choice, our pulses are “revved up” when we encounter the mysterious, unavailable and handsome guy. That guy who swaggers, has little to say and is unavailable will catch our attention. Many women love the anticipation of unpredictable contact.

Height: Many women love tall men and studies reveal that women consider tall men to be more attractive, more masculine and commanding.

V-Shaped Torso: Women are drawn to a specific male body type. They love broad shoulders, slender hips and well-developed, toned muscles. Men with a high shoulder to hip ratio are especially valued since they are regarded as more athletic.

Resonant Male Voice: A resonant male voice with a deeper tone and pitch is incredibly attractive to women. High levels of testosterone predict deeper voices among adult men. At some level, according to the researchers, women associate a deep baritone with good health, good genes, the capacity to protect and social influence. Think “Luciano Pavarotti versus Truman Capote.”

Something in the Way He Moves: How he moves indicates age, health, energy levels and biomechanical efficiency. To improve their attractiveness, men need to watch those dance moves (larger, more sweeping movements are preferred), how they walk (guy’s upper body sways laterally) and his gestures (space maximizing movements such as arm and leg stretching to dominate space).

You may be wondering where personality fits in here:

Personality is the essential spark for female attraction and it boils down to several essential characteristics.

Good Sense of Humor: Women who describe their husbands as more witty report higher rates of marital satisfaction. A sense of humor indicates empathy and understanding. David Buss, the study’s co-author, argues that displaying a good sense of humor is the most effective tactic for attracting women. Positive feelings, laughter and good cheer all make women like you. On an interesting note, men and women have huge gender differences on humor. Men like women who laugh at their jokes while women prefer that men make them laugh.

Self Confidence Versus Cockiness: A guy who knows what he is doing, is commanding with others, is poised and decisive are incredible attributes for attraction. Self-confidence is different from cockiness, which indicates false pride. Self-confidence is also a sign that he can protect and provide which are characteristics that are attractive to many women.

Character and Emotional Intelligence: The presence of integrity and honesty are unbeatable combinations for men who are interested in attracting a long-term mate. While they may not help a man in the initial attraction dance, these characteristics are essential for the long-term health of the marriage. Women love to be understood and having an emotionally self-aware guy is a huge allure.

Ladies, if you meet a nice guy that you are not attracted to or if you want to inject some passion into a current relationship – here’s what to do:

While you can never create that sexual chemistry on your own, you need to reconsider how you are thinking about this guy. Remember that for women, attraction is highly psychological. Research shows that a lot of women are attracted to the “bad boys” who are dashing, handsome and potentially unfaithful but that they outgrow such relationships over time.

Historical Foundations of Attraction: For the selection of a long-term relationship, pay attention to your history. Sexologist, John Money, says that we all have a unique template of what we find attractive. This “love map” accounts for some of the choices we make that may seem illogical such as why we like guys with brown hair versus blonde. We may choose against “type” when we meet someone whom we enjoy and with whom we build a lifetime bond. He may have our “love map” characteristics.

Weighted Values: Write a list of attributes that this man has and assign them values (one to ten etc.). Rate what is most important to least important. Think long and hard about what you want in a partner long term. For example, while he may not have the self-confidence and swagger of some more dashing men, he may have a great sense of humor that will keep you laughing through the night for the next fifty years.

Source: “Why Women Have Sex,” Carol Meson and David Buss

The Wisdom of Intuition - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Wisdom of Intuition

September 17, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News 

Everyday we are forced to make split second decisions, often with minimal information. Intuition has always played an important part in our decisions at work and in our relationships. Now psychologists report that intuition can literally save your life.

So, what is intuition and why should you care?

Perimeter Protection System: Intuition is our perimeter protection system. It is a “knowing” that is often instant, without logic and beyond words. As one author said, “you are what you know.” Intuition originates in the “intuitive” circuitry that operates beneath our awareness, automatically and effortlessly, with immense speed. Our conclusions are often global and illogical but they make intuitive sense. We process in nano-seconds as we feel the raw power of our gut reaction warning us of danger.

Feeling Versus Analyzing: Raw, intense, and unexplainable, intuition is increasingly valuable in a world that is more complex and connected, we have to make decisions quickly based on minimal information in real time. Deliberating over a decision is often a luxury we cannot afford.

Analysis Can Lead to Denial: We now know that the brain operates analytically and intuitively. Our analytical brain weighs in later, draws on logic and deduction and selects the most reasonable decision. Unfortunately, it is easy to talk ourselves out of what we are seeing. Our intuitive brain is “way out in front” screaming warnings and protecting us against manipulators, narcissists and sociopaths. In these cases, denial can be our enemy.

Pay attention to the degree of what you are feeling, because not all intuitions are the same:

Intensity and Frequency Vary: Intuitions vary in intensity and frequency. They often occur randomly when we are mindlessly going through our daily business. Suddenly, our mind is issuing a warning to back up and protect ourselves.

Ordered Hierarchy That Builds: Intuition is comprised of an ordered hierarchy: nagging feeling, persistent thought, anxiety, apprehension, suspicion, hesitation, doubt, surge of anxiety and then outright fear.

We Don’t Pay Attention: People emit 1,000 different communications in a given day and our biggest problem is that we fail to track obvious behavior. We minimize the odd or even bizarre and amplify the normal aspects of other people’s behavior. People show us who they are and it is up to us to pay attention and put it all together. Believe your eyes.

A lot of my patients ignore their intuitions, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Here’s why:

We want things to be normal. We evaluate people constantly and are usually reassured that others are normal and trustworthy and have legitimate agendas. We do not want to believe that serious danger can exist right in front of us, especially in the business world. In the workplace, sociopaths abound and good people are especially vulnerable to disbelieving what is directly in front of us.

Another interesting facet of intuition is the gender differences in processing and purpose:

Draw Upon the Past to Assess the Present: Absolutely there are differences between the genders. Women have twice the emotional memory capacity in their brains as men so they are able to augment their intuition with memories of other similar situations.

Whole Brain Thinking: They have access to both sides of their brains so their intuition is influenced by both the raw, gut reactions of the intuitive brain leavened by the analytical capacities of the analytical brain. We are often willing to go with our gut feeling, which is not a fleeting emotional reaction. Intuition is a complex cognitive reaction that is brilliantly engineered by your watchful female brain.

The key is not to always “tune out” your intuition. Pay attention to the signals your mind is sending you:

There are several important survival signs that someone is potentially trying to manipulate you. You can use them in both business and in your personal life to protect yourself.

1.) Forced Teaming: When someone tries to project a shared purpose or experience when none exists, they are trying to manipulate you. Good cons want you to participate and drop your guard.

2.) Charm and Niceness: Charm is often a direct attempt to compel, control and direct. Ask yourself how sincere the “charm” seems. Is he trying to charm you or is he simply charming? There is a big difference.

3.) Too Many Details: People who lie talk too much. When people tell the truth, they do not feel doubted so they don’t oversupply you with details.

4.) Typecasting: Those little labels and criticism provide a slight insult and are usually easy to refute. However, the manipulator says it to keep you off balance.

5.) Loan Sharking: They love to set up situations in which you owe them. They offer assistance but he is always calculating what you owe him.

6.) The Unsolicited Promise: One of the most reliable signs of danger, the unsolicited promise is used to convince of a benign intention. They are used to lull you into complacency and to convince you that the outcome will be rewarding. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sources:

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker

The Monitor, The American Psychological Association, 2005

Why Women Judge Other Women - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why Women Judge Other Women

June 4, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Women have turned to one another throughout the ages for support, advice and information. But what happens when women turn on one another?

Women judge one another for the following reasons:

  • Love to Complain: Women love to complain and gossip to each other. In fact, most of us are in constant touch with our closest confidantes, and we love to lament about our latest frustration or irritation. At some point the conversation can turn ugly. We stop talking “about” someone and begin talking “against” them.
  • Confused and Threatened: We move to judgment when we are confused, offended or threatened. Many women do not like the “grays” of life, preferring to “niche” others in negative categories.
  • Self-Absorbed Women: Some women are so self-centered that any woman of achievement is a potential adversary. They do not want another woman to steal their thunder. They are naturally competitive and stab other women in the back routinely just to “stay even.”
  • Grudge Holders: We are chronic grudge-holders due to the fact that we have twice the brain space for emotional memory compared to men. As a result, if you slight a woman once, you may make an enemy for life.

Unfortunately, the presence of men can make women more critical of other women. In male-dominated situations in the workplace or social setting, women show an innate tendency to turn on one another. When guys hold the power and there are few women with authority, women can get much more nasty. We are as competitive as men but mainly compete with one another when our power is limited.

When women achieve power, many of us tend to hoard it and fail to mentor the very women behind us who will inherit our influence and skills. As a result, the entire gender is undermined. We must pull together rather than apart.

Friendships are often challenged when a woman succeeds. Jealousy and dissension may thrive when one woman excels beyond the other.

Similarity is the common denominator of female relationships. Girls at young ages don’t give orders but emphasize connection, sameness and interdependence. When women ascend in power, they differentiate themselves from the female community by holding that power. Similarity is decreased. With some women, such accomplishments are threatening, and they label the achieving female as overly confident, conniving or even conceited. Gossiping in female social communities is a primary way to undercut a woman who has achieved. Friendships often wither quickly.

There are specific types of female conversations that evoke this type of female against female criticism.

There are four broad categories:

  • Tracking the Competition: Women use gossip to keep track of other women, especially when they are competing with them. Sharing information about “when, where and whys” assures them that they can triumph over the other woman.
  • Criticize Her Love Life: Women love to complain endlessly about the men in their lives, but they delight even more in complaining about other women and their love lives.
  • Female Scapegoats: Women turn to others during times of stress, but sometimes the conversation turns nasty. Many times women begin to scapegoat another female as a solution to a problem. We “throw her under the bus” to alleviate our own frustration. Sharing a common view even if it is negative is soothing and bonds women to one another.

Women can do a great deal to support one another and to strengthen the “girl team.”

There are infinite ways that women can support each other, but here are some important tips:

  • Be a Mentor: If you see another woman who needs some guidance, coach her on how to navigate to better solutions.
  • Discover and Share Information: Use what we do best—share important information. Knowledge is power, so share the wealth with other sisters.
  • Hold Your Tongue: Don’t “take another woman out” over trivial annoyances. Especially in the workplace, you must present a united front. Thousands of flourishing female careers can be sabotaged by gossip. “Loose Lips sink careers!”
  • Weave a Female Web: Female groups are enhancing of our best attributes, including empathy, understanding and integrity. Connecting with other women is not only good for your mind but is great for your heart.

Sources include:

Deborah Tannen’s "You Just Don’t Understand"

Gail Evans’ "She Wins, You Win"

Women Marching To Work During Recession - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Women Marching To Work During Recession

March 27, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

As the recession lengthens into the longest financial drought since World War II, the number of women in the workplace is now bypassing the number of employed men. During the current recession, 82% of job losses have affected men leaving the breadwinning to millions of American women.

As women bear more of the responsibility in breadwinning, dramatic shifts in gender roles and power may occur in your relationship.

Money is Power: Women are going to have more of a say in the marriage. As the saying goes, “he who makes the gold holds the power.” Now it may be “she who makes the gold.” Males have traditionally been trained to lead and to provide while many women focused on the home fires. Decision-making may change as women also hold the reins of power.

Enhanced Independence: Leadership can be intoxicating and earning a paycheck outside of the home is inevitably empowering. This recession may redefine how women think about themselves. Such independence, self-confidence and a sense of effectiveness influence the marital dialogue.

This sociological trend has a tremendous effect on marriages. As the woman heads to work and the man heads back home, the balance of power will be disrupted.

At this point, many couples either pull together or pull apart. Successful couples “put their heads down” and work tirelessly as a team to solve the financial problem. She pulls a paycheck while he runs the carpool. However, in other couples, male distractibility may increase as he hunts for new employment. Some men, discouraged and negative, may retreat to the couch to distract themselves with the latest video game. Male inattentiveness can cause tremendous discord at home, especially if the financial stress is increasing and the wife is working non-stop to help the family financially.

There are substantial differences between how men and women react to job loss and the resulting financial hardship.

Individual personality differences play a huge part in how either gender deals with sustained adversity. However, the trauma of financial stress plays out differently with both genders. Men turn to action and distraction while women generally ruminate and obsess. Their opposing coping skills trigger negativity and the couple can quickly be at cross-purposes.

As the financial strain continues, the chronic stress takes a toll on the physical and psychological immunity of both genders because of the perpetual uncertainty of the economy. Over time, we are increasingly mentally and emotionally exhausted. We do know now that the very nerve cells of the brain and the brain circuitry can be damaged by chronic stress.

Marital discord may occur when a woman is forced by economic circumstances to work outside of the home. Enormous resentment and even trauma can result. Many women prefer the traditional role of being a wife and mother and are not interested in generating an independent income. Returning to full time work can be a traumatic event, especially when there are young children at home.

However, in today’s economy, millions of women simply do not have the choices they once did. Seventy percent of women with kids work for pay and that number is growing as the male job layoffs continue. This is a time to “buck up” and take a hit for the family team. Women over the millennia have made the difference between surviving and perishing. Modern times now offer the same opportunity to prove our mettle as a gender.

There are key coping skills couples should use to deal with negative financial issues:

Write down the problem that you are facing. Define the triggers that cause you the most worry and conflict. Once you have defined your conflict triggers, work as a couple to do the following:

  • Assess the Threat: Assess how much danger you face and be realistic about each level of threat. Again, make sure you remain realistic.
  • Match Your Emotions to the Situation: Make your emotional responses ‘fit’ the real degree of threat. Do not overreact and pull each other into a downward, negative spiral.
  • Break It Down: Break down the steps to remedying the problem. Make them simple and specific.
  • Likely Outcomes: Prepare effectively for the most likely consequences of the problem.
  • Remain Positive: Lower your anxiety by focusing on positive solutions and outcomes. Keep your focus and remain accurate.

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