Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reorganization! I Need Advice.

It would be helpful if intelligentwomenonly.com readers would let me know suggestions for improving my blog. It has been almost a year since I began blogging.  I need to reorganize so that new readers coming to the site can "catch up" and long-time visitors can find what they might be looking for. I'm open to other suggestions too in terms of content, style, frequency of the blog too.

Thanks in advance for your intelligent advice!
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Myths/Truths about Female-Male Communication? From Huffington Post

The following article is interesting to me because I'm a firm believer in research-based information. However, as everyone has noticed and experienced, research and statistics are always open to interpretation. I wrote Genderflex, Men and Women Speaking Each Others Language at Work in 1994, before the Mars and Venus book. I had done some survey research of my own, but also used the findings of many others in the field of social psychology. My conclusions were similar to John Gray's. Perhaps the debunking comes from more recent research than Gray or I unearthed. I have not taken the time to carefully review the research noted in Fulbright's article, or to review Fulbright for that matter, but you may want to. Here's the link:
Why should we care? According to scientific research and Deborah Cameron's "The Myth of Mars and Venus," Gray has "he" versus "she" communication all wrong.
Turn to any Mars/Venus-based resource, and you'll hear that men and women are fundamentally different in the way they use language to communicate. The supposed differences between the sexes, they say, are due to nature, not nurture; humans are hard-wired so that females excel in verbal tasks -- explaining why she wants to talk his ears off about feelings, needs and "where we're at," and why he is so turned off by such attempts.
Yet, as Cameron's book points out, the data on gender communication differences indicates otherwise:
Myth: Females talk more than males.
Fact: A review of 56 research studies by Deborah James and Janice Drakich found 34 that reported that men talk more than women, with females talking more than males in only two studies. A more recent University of Arizona study in the journal Science reported that both genders speak almost the exact same number of words daily (16,000).
Myth: Females are more verbally skilled than males.
Fact: While a 2005 meta-analysis of studies on gender differences in verbal/communicative behavior by Janet Shibley Hyde found a moderate effect size favoring women, it also revealed that there was a close to zero effect for reading comprehension, vocabulary and verbal reasoning.
Myth: Females seek to connect with others, while males use language with the intention of accomplishing things.
Fact: Studies by researchers Kathy O'Leary and Pamela Fishman indicate that the genders may differ in patterns because they're engaged in different activities or are playing different conversational roles. These differences don't necessarily appear when males and females are doing the same things or playing same roles.
Myth: Females use language cooperatively, because they prefer harmony and equality.
Fact: Hyde's meta-analysis indicated that there was a moderate effect size for women when it came to smiling during conversations. There was also a small effect size for them when it came to speech production, talkativeness, affiliative speech and self-disclosure. Still, who's to say that this isn't due to nurture and not nature, especially when there's no data to support the former?
Myth: Males are more direct and not as polite in communicating.
Fact: Hyde's meta-analysis showed that there was only a small effect size favoring males when it came to conversational interruption and assertive speech. There's actually more variation in communication within each gender than there is when you compare any differences between men and women.
As the research shows, the language skills of men and women are nearly identical. Yet the myths they debunk are still used to support the premise that the genders are regularly misunderstanding each other due to mere genetics. With the media fully on-board the Mars/Venus bandwagon, "failure to communicate" across genders has been used to explain everything from why men don't take out the garbage upon request to why a rapist didn't understand his victim's attempts to resist. Ultimately, both genders suffer.
Men are sized up as inarticulate, aggressive Neanderthals, incapable of feeling emotions and being sensitive. Women are criticized for being overly cooperative and caring doormats. Such discrimination shapes beliefs and influences actions, both personally and professionally.
When it comes to mating, he is supposed to be allowed to "go into his cave" when times get tough or when there's something that needs to be done or discussed. Maintaining the relationship becomes her responsibility, requiring that she accommodate his communication style.
When it comes to the job market, females are supposedly better at jobs involving communication and empathy, while men are supposed to be better suited for analyzing complex systems. She is favored when it comes to jobs involving teaching, nursing and counseling. He is considered better suited to occupy positions of power and authority, as in engineering, banking and politics.
Anybody who is truly enlightened and who knows anything about males, females and relationships knows that that is all wrong. Still, the Mars/Venus phenomenon continues to make millions. When will we let science command the "he versus she" communication conversation?
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mostly Glamour Magazine and Harsh Body Talk

Heavy-duty neuroscientific research demonstrates, as shown in this article,  http://www.bmedreport.com/archives/22521 
that making and eliminating connections in the brain, a significant aspect of breaking the NST habit, is a complex and evolving study.

If you have no interest in reading Neuroscience, which I completely understand, check out the link to the Glamour magazine article http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2011/02/shocking-body-image-news-97-percent-of-women-will-be-cruel-to-their-bodies-today  It's alarming to me, even as someone who is already knowledgeable about the seriousness of the women's negative self-talk problem.

Also read the comments from readers below the article. One reader questions the magazine's use of a perfect body on a beautiful women as the "centerfold" for the article. I too found that PJBT — poor judgment, bad taste. Do they really get it? A web-site follow up on March 23rd,  by Shaun Dreisbach, the author of the first article, attempts to sound a positive note about this 2011 survey compared to a 1984 similar survey. It didn't help — and it seemed to use different numbers: 97% in the original "Shocking" article, 40% in the attempt to soften the impact. H-m-m-m?
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back to Basics3 — Negative Self-Talk is a Habit, not a Neurosis

 If you're reading this blog, I want you to know you're trendy! Glamour magazine March, 2011 has an article about negative self-talk specifically related to body image* with self-help suggestions and O had one in December 2010 by Catherine Price. To me, both articles support my belief that NST is normal, average, everyday thinking for the majority of women younger than 60! This is not good, even though it means the women are probably not neurotic or psychotic! Therapists are useful, valuable, helpful people, but girls and women who have the NST habit don't necessarily need one, just as they don't need a therapist to help them break the couch potato habit, or the chewing fingernails habit or the non-assertiveness habit.

* "In a recent GLAMOUR magazine survey, 97% of young women will have on average 13 brutal thoughts about their bodies today."

The title of my new book-to-be is Handbook #1 for Intelligent Women: Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit, rather than Cure the Negative Self-talk Neurosis, for a reason.  Self-talk, NST or PST, is learned behavior. Normal, average, negative self-talk is no more a neurosis than positive self-talk — unless it grows into an obsession or a delusion, which is not the average outcome for self-talkers of any kind. The book is focused on everyday intelligent negative self-talkers, not those at the tail end of the bell-shaped curve.

If you label your thinking behavior as neurotic, there’s a tendency to feel screwed up, a loser who needs a lot of therapy. If you think instead that NST is a habit that you'd like to get rid of like any other habit such as biting your fingernails, eating ice cream every night, or tweeting 24 times a day, you might not feel bad about yourself. You might make a plan and take action, which would help you to feel even better.

The change in perspective is good practice in reframing, a technique of cognitive restructuring — looking at the same picture/facts/ information with a different frame attached to it. Changing the frame, changes the perception. It's neither negative or positive. It's realistic.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Laugh Along as You Fool Your Writer's Inner Critic

 I would love to take credit for this light-hearted approach to writers' block (usually caused by negative self-talk) published in the January ASJA monthly magazine, BUT I can't; Bonavoglia and Green are the creative ones!  It served as a great reminder to me that using humor with tough problems can result in reduction of stress and a comforting degree of detachment. I'm going to try to apply that learning more frequently to intelligentwomenonly.com too.

You can change the wording a bit in your mind and/or laugh even if you're not a writer. e.g. Treat yourself to a stress-reduction workshop and tell your inner critic you're going to an all day group therapy session which she certainly wouldn't enjoy. I particularly like 12. It's a good reframe and appeals to my green self!

12 Ways to Foil Your Inner Censor
by Angela Bonavoglia and Rochelle Green Writing something new, something especially creative, perhaps something you've been putting off for a while, can be daunting. When you're in that place, the Censor in your head can be relentless. Here are some strategies you can use to outfox your inner heckler.
  1. Treat yourself to a writers' retreat in New England, but tell her you're going to Spain.
  2. Get up way earlier than that lazy lout and write your heart out.
  3. Record your strong self reading your Censor the riot act, and play it as often as needed.
  4. Call a supportive writer friend whose voice is louder than hers.
  5. Admit that what you're writing isn't working, but don't lambast yourself. She'll hate that.
  6. Ignore her. She's only there to undercut you. She's NOT the reasoned critic that every writer needs.
  7. Use music to drown her out. If you find something she likes, she may even quiet down for a bit.
  8. Don't try to figure out who she is. She's a combination of every demeaning teacher, brow-beating parent, finger-wagging cleric, and bad person you've ever met or heard of.
  9. Write a letter to yourself laying out all of your doubts and fears. Try to see the humor, the hubris, the outlandish expectations. Then remind yourself you’re only human, and give yourself permission to be less than stellar.
  10. Hang a "No-Judgment Zone" sign in your writing space. Try to evaluate -- not judge -- as you edit and rewrite. If you hear the judge in your head, just tell her to shove it.
  11. If you have a writing goal in mind, try not to edit as you go along. Just keep writing, moving forward. That should confound her; she loves when you obsess about your work.
  12. Your Censor delights in declaring your work "garbage." And so what if occasionally she's right? Remember: Garbage can be turned into fuel. The stinker you wrote today may be compost for the garden that springs from your keyboard tomorrow.

Angela Bonavoglia, longtime ASJA member, is an author and journalist who blogs often at the Huffington Post; her most recent book is Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church. Rochelle Green is a freelance writer and editor who frequently covers health and education issues for print and web.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Types of Self-talk to Watch Out For!

Here's the link; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-changes/200908/how-do-you-spot-negative-self-talk
 Below is a section of a good article by Margaret Moore. Particularly for those blog readers who aren't sure of whether or not they're negative self-talkers, or if what they say to themselves is not useful, here's a good, brief description.

What kinds of self-talk should you watch out for?
  1. Self-Limiting Talk. When we are self-limiting we may say things like, "I can't tell him how I feel" or "It's too hard to finish the project" or "I'm getting so fat!" Self-limiting talk creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because we stop looking for solutions and assume defeat. Instead of looking at our options, we tell ourselves that we can't handle the things that face us.
  2. Jumping to Conclusions. When we experience an uncomfortable situation, we make interpretations rather than simply stating the facts. For example, we'll say, "I tried on my jeans and looked so disgusting" or "Tom talked to me and I made a fool of myself" or "If I go to the gym, people will talk about me." When we jump to conclusions, we too often assume the worst and make fact out of what might be fiction.
  3. Habits of Speech. Our speech patterns can be so automatic that we don't even notice them. And though we may not even really mean what we say, it can have a negative impact on how we feel about ourselves. This may sound like, "What do you expect from a dumb blonde?" or "I'm so stupid!" This habit also shows up in the way we discount ourselves to others. For example, when someone tells us we look nice and we respond, "Yeah, right!" Though these detrimental habits may sometimes be disguised as humor, they aren't funny at all.
  4. Others' Thoughts Become Our Own. Some of our thoughts are planted by external sources such as our parents, spouse, colleagues, or friends. These well-meaning voices have clear expectations of us that become a part of our own self-talk. Though their thoughts can serve us, they can also become detrimental when we are unable to distinguish their ideas from our own. One sign of this form of negative self-talk is when we begin to hear ourselves say things like "You really shouldn't..." or "You ought to..." When others' thoughts become our own we begin to act out of guilt, rather than desire.

You may have a different kind of limiting self-talk, but after reading Moore's 4 descriptions I think you'll be quicker to recognize the negative self-talk and to start the elimination process!
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Back to Basics2 — for Readers New to IWO blog

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Do Women Continue with NST (the NaSTy habit) When It Feels So Bad?

During my presentation of "Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit" last week, Jennifer Waldron, a speech coach  (jenniferwaldron.com) asked the pertinent question, "What's the payoff or hidden benefit for negative self-talkers?" There aren't research-based answers that I know of, but lots of theories about why women continue to put themselves down when it continues to make them feel so bad!

• "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." Meaning that there's comfort in same old, familiar patterns. Changing to realistic thinking from NST may be scary — a risk that takes effort.
• Negative self-talk, spoken out loud, elicits reassuring messages from friends and family.e.g. "You have a great personality Mary. There's nothing wrong with you." "Of course you're smarter than most of your co-workers. They must be jealous of you and that's why they avoid you."
• The illusion that people who do a lot of negative self-talking are introspective, self-aware, and analytical as well as smart may keep the NST engine chugging.
• Cultural changes noted by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema Ph. D. in Women Who Think Too Much. (http://www.amazon.com/) e.g. decreased strength of values, greater sense of entitlement, the need for quick fixes, and increased self-absorption.

What thoughts do you have about why women — or you specifically, keep dumping on yourself even though it produces nothing good for you and may make you anxious or depressed or at least bummed out? I'd really like to hear your opinions and thoughts. Maybe you think it's really helpful to you and you don't agree that we should try to reduce our NST?
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Technique of the Week — Meditation, Mindfulness and Distraction

Meditation and mindfulness are techniques that I've mentioned and described here over the last couple of weeks. Both are under the detachment category as ways to eliminate negative self-talk. Both promote removal of focus, letting go of content, and/or recognition and acceptance that negative self-talk is only a thought, not a truth or fact.

Along the same continuum of detachment distance from the negative thought is distraction, literally defined as diverting attention. It's easy, quick and you don't have to practice to get good at it. It's a form of strategic allocation of attention. Instead of spending attention on the negative self-talk which causes stress, you purposefully focus elsewhere. You can focus on anything you want — as long as it works to move you away from the negative thinking. Listening to music and exercising work to change thoughts and emotion for many people, according to research by

Inevitably, until you finally break the habit, the negative talk will return. Use a different distraction, looking for and finding what works best for you: a trip to Facebook or U-Tube, a sexy romance novel, a phone call to a friend focusing on him or her, not you, going out to a movie. Your natural resistance will say, "I can't afford to waste time doing those things. I have work to do." From my perspective, the biggest waste of time is thinking negative thoughts. In addition, it is harmful and addictive. Much better to have a movie or Facebook addiction!
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