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The Mental Health Impacts of Female Rivalry.

⁉️Did you know ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’ in May, has been observed in the U.S. since 1949? That’s 72 years!

Mental health awareness is still a serious topic today, because it helps people understand symptoms, find professional treatment, and perhaps most importantly, break the mental health stigma that leaves so many people suffering in secret.

It makes me think about the work I do with promoting awareness about female rivalry behaviors. ⁉️You might be asking, “How in the heck do female rivalry behaviors contribute to mental health issues?” Great question! Let me tell you, they do, BIG time. Especially, if you’re the one being targeted.

Mental health is, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community’ (World Health Organization, 2011).

Not only is female rivalry a negative behavior, when it escalates, it frequently turns into a bullying behavior. Bullying is a form of an aggressive behavior which is an underlying principle for female rivalry behaviors.

“Bullying once regarded as a rite of passage is now recognized as a serious mental health and public issue. Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that includes an intention to cause physical or psychological harm, a power imbalance that makes it difficult for the target to defend him/herself, and repeated occurrences.’ (Nansel, et al., 2001; Olweus, 1993).

Marjorie’s Story: I felt like I was in prison. It had gone on for quite some time, my being in that negative situation. When Sunday rolled around, at night I’d get this terrible feeling in my stomach knowing I had to go to work the next day.

At the same time because I was experiencing so much anxiety, I developed GERD, a long-term condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the esophagus. I ended up in the hospital one night, not being able to swallow, and they had to put a tracheotomy down my throat so that I could breathe.

There’s no question in my mind that the anxiety I experienced because of working with this woman initiated the GERD. Now, since I’m out of that environment, I don’t have the anxiety or physical issues I once had. Even though I’m not an expert in it, I feel like I experienced some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from what I went through with her.

For women who’re recipients of female rivalry behaviors, especially if the experience is long term, they can experience vast mental health impacts. Marjorie and many other women have shared personal stories with me about the negative behavior, and also, what they experienced with it:

  • Random yet very impactful, unexplained physical health problems

  • Mental and emotional health issues

  • Immense feelings of social anxiety

  • Extensive loneliness and last but not least,

  • Depression

Female rivalry, it’s not just a cat-fight or women being dramatic. It’s not entertainment or something to make fun of. It’s a serious behavior with serious, long-term consequences. I think it’s a pretty big deal when women say they don’t trust other women, don’t have female friends, won’t work for another woman or won’t work on an all-female team, ever again. Don’t you?

It happens socially, at work, and in families. You name the place and for sure it exists because no culture, age or demographic is off limits. It’s disruptive to the environment in which it occurs, it’s beyond disruptive to the woman who’s targeted. When women experience it, they shut down, lose their voice and self-esteem, and their world feels grey.

When it occurs at work, the targeted women typically withdraw into themselves. They don’t feel safe, engagement decreases and they don’t know who to trust. The impact doesn’t just stay at work, it comes home with them, impacting their lives as a whole.

Here are some ways to acknowledge, raise awareness and implement effective change about female rivalry behaviors:

  • If you see it, acknowledge it

  • If you’ve experienced it, talk about it to shed awareness

  • Share information about bullying behaviors

  • Implement bystander training at work or in other social groups

  • Leverage social media

  • Above all, be kind.

You already are. It’s time TO BE.♥️

P.S. Stay tuned for my blog out next week about the Queen Bee Complex.

I say that it’s time to be different. It’s time to talk about female rivalry and the mental health impacts of these types of behaviors.


⁉️Interested in learning how ‘female rivalry’ impacts the workplace? 🎉DOWNLOAD my FREE .pdf guide, ‘5 Reasons WHY Good Women Walk’ to learn more!


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