We don’t have control over the actions of other people. We may impact it, we may trigger it, but control it… no. Ultimately, it’s always their choice to act and behave as they do. At any age this can be a hard lesson to learn and understand… especially, if you are the recipient of something harmful and damaging.
As mentioned in Part I of this series, in my research about female rivalry I found there are two main types of coping mechanisms that help women get them through and overcome their negative mean girl experience. I discussed ‘coping at the scene,’ or a reactive way to cope in Part I. This part of the series is about ‘coping after the fact,’ or long-term coping as a means to overcome.
When the claws come out, what you do in response to that is up to you. It can be very challenging to not take things personally, to ignore, and let things slide. Ultimately though, that ends up being a positive reflection about you. Sooner or later, negative actions always reveal a persons true colors.
Coping manifests an individual's character and is a personal process that is very different for each woman who’s encountered a mean girl situation. Either simple or complex, its many facets are what helps each woman I’ve talked with tolerate this type of situation. Coping mechanisms developed as a response to situations that the women could not control. Whether the experience lasted several weeks or a span of many years, coping is a process that helped each woman endure.
“Coping shapes emotion, as it does psychological stress, by influencing the person-environment relationship and how it is appraised. Coping involves both (a) attempts to change the person-environment realities behind negative emotions (problem-focused coping) and (b) attempts to change either what is attended to or how it is appraised (emotion-focused coping)” (Lazarus, 1993, p. 16).
I define, long-term, get-on-with-your-life-coping as ‘coping after the fact.’ It’s a mindful effort to deal consciously with the behavior and incorporate deep internal reflection. For the many women with whom I’ve spoken, it manifests after their experience and is a means to move on with their lives. It is an “internal, interior type of coping mechanism.”
Coping after the fact can also be likened to “proactive coping.” Coping after the fact centers on mindfulness and is a proactive approach to dealing with the negative behaviors after they’ve occurred. This type of mindfulness is based on a growth philosophy. Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and acclaimed guru behind the growth/ fixed mindset philosophies says,
“People with a growth mindset embrace challenges because they believe they can learn from experiences, develop their skills, and improve their practice – all of which can lead to greater achievement.”
A person with a growth mindset will concentrate on improvement. They believe their strengths can be expanded and enhanced with effort. They are the type of individual that will examine negative incident and see what they can take-away or learn from it.
As it pertains to mean girls and female rivalry, when utilizing this type of coping (over time and typically once the situation is behind her), women have been able to self-reflect, learn and grow. This may take years but ultimately, women who’ve shared their stories with me are more aware. They have the ability and insight to support other women encountering a similar circumstance. They have the ability to take a negative situation and know who they do not want to be.
Your personal mindset can make or break you. It can make a difference in your ability to grow and develop or, it can also hold you back.
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.” -Carol Dweck
P.S. Stay tuned for Part III of this series. My next blog will talk about dealing with mean girls and forgiveness.
You already are. It’s time To Be.