February has always been an interesting month, after working in schools for over 14 years and now in private practice for almost 10 years, I have dumbed February the month of Girl Drama (not an official holiday YET)..
As in previous years, this month’s discussion, from 4th grade to 12th grade have been around girl behaviors that are less than kind. It seems for some reason, all these issues come to a head in February.
First of all, let me set the record straight I have been working with girls ages 5-25 for the past twenty years and really hate the term “ Mean Girl”. Of course, I LOOOVE the movie and musical (yes it’s coming to Austin in 2021) and it is very entertaining and funny however the actual term sets us back about 20 years. In our practice at ATFG, we work a ton with the idea that it is your behavior that can be bad, not you as a person. The whole shame vs guilt conversation started by Brené Brown back in 1990’s states shame as my clients describe it is “ hating on yourself” here are some examples “ No one likes me, I am a horrible person, if I we’re smart, skinny, talented , pretty enough then I would have all the friends I want”.
On the opposite end is Guilt meaning that I am “hating on my behavior” examples of this self-talk sound like, “gosh! I wish I would have responded to that text, or maybe I don’t want to make a comment about her hair, what she is wearing, etc.…”.
We all do a bit of both, Shame and Guilt, we must all be aware of what we are saying to ourselves and others if we want true connection.
One technique, I use with my clients is the idea of a Drama Cleanse, the idea is to write down all the ways you feel like you are causing drama or participating in drama (specifics behaviors)then make a plan to either avoid those topics or a way to distract yourself…. We all want connection and sometimes it does seem like gossip and drama helps us feel connected to our peers, it honestly can be exciting. One of my 7th grade clients took on the challenge to start a Drama Cleanse till Spring Break. She is finding that she is a bit bored at times, however, is much happier in general. She is not only trying to decrease the drama in her life, she has also taken it a step further by only making positive comments on social media.
At Austin Therapy for Girls, we do wear pink on Wednesdays, and we strive to build girls up…. good luck with your own drama cleanse.