Mean girls. They’re everywhere. And we love them. We cheer on their bad behavior deliciously captivated by their every move, as if we were watching a massive train wreck. How is it that characters like the inspired-by-a-real-person, Jen Gregory in this summer’s best beach read My Lover’s Keeper , is so captivating? Why can’t we get enough of the misbehaving Housewives? And how is it that we’re compelled to want to know Kris Jenner’s every move? Researchers have found that there is scientific reasoning behind our never ending fascination with these women.
Juanita Allen Kingsley, Director of Business Development for Natick, MA based Century Health Systems has found that there is a growing trend in our current culture toward less shame attached to being mean. “I think this is a really big deal,” she says. “We used to think poorly of people who were mean, but the tide has turned. Today young girls equate being mean with being powerful and strong. Reality shows and in popular culture in the media that perpetuate this belief and behavior.
The idea that true strength comes from kindness and collaboration has disappeared and has been replaced with the notion of. “if you succeed, I’ll build you up, but at a price”. In other words, I will take you under my wing, coddle you and include you in my crew, but it’s going to cost you. You will be teased, cajoled and called out.
While this type of behavior might be entertaining to watch on tv or an interesting read, it is no fun to experience it first-hand. But you can navigate these types of relationships and come out unscathed.
Here are 5 things you can do to mitigate the mean girl bullying in your universe.
1) Don’t personalize her words: Understand that this person is way too self-centered, with a fragile ego, to really be considering your emotions.
2) Be assertive: Confront her about the situation, sharing your feelings without making accusations (e.g., “you are the meanest person!”)
3) Forgive her: Let go of the anger and resentment that poisons you
4) Get some distance: You can forgive her and still stay away from her- at least for a while.
5) Understand her motivation: Most mean girls have very little self-worth. If you can get to a place of understanding your perpetrators motivation you can quell the attacks.
Ultimately it is up to you to take care of you. Find ways to help her feel good about herself. While it may seem counter intuitive being kind and supportive to a mean girl can prevent her from using you as her punching bag.