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Self-esteem in women - Are nice girls angry?

Self-esteem in women needs to be sky high. But how can women avoid poor self-esteem when they are subjected to pathetic and patronising comments if they become upset? Is it any wonder that some of us suffer from poor self-esteem when we hear remarks directed at us, such as:

  • "What a bitch", or
  • "You're too emotional", or "
  • You're over sensitive" ...

... when we get upset about anything.

Self-esteem in women can take a battering in the presence of such comments.

Inappropriate interpretations of our emotions can be experienced particularly when we are angry. For example, if women get angry at work, they can be subjected to comments that imply something is wrong with them and thus self-esteem in women can become deflated.

Why is it that women aren't simply allowed to be angry?" If a man is angry people say "He is angry". They don't say "Oh he is angry, his testosterone must be too high". Or, "He is angry, poor love, he can't cope with a high workload". Instead, people will just say, "He is angry". Thus he does not risk a poor self-esteem. It is not so for women.

No wonder self-esteem in women can suffer. What are we all meant to do? Just sit around and smile meekly? We'll be producing smelling salts at meetings next!

Self-esteem: Anger is a normal human emotion in women

Irrespective of whether people have good or poor self-esteem, anger is a normal human emotion in both men and women. Being angry is a natural response in situations in which a person is thwarted or feels a sense of injustice or feels powerless to take action or be heard.

It is normal for women to feel angry in such circumstances surely? Of course it is. It is a myth that women shouldn't be angry.

The problem is, if self-esteem in women suffers on hearing such stupid comments, then it is going to be hard to deflect them.

It is very important that we do not take such comments seriously, that we can laugh them off and that we avoid poor self-esteem. They are, after all, an ignorant evaluation of women's emotions.

Self-esteem: Being "nice" all the time

Let me set the position straight. Being "nice" all the time is a totally distorted expectation of women. We must not expect it of ourselves nor expect it of other women. It is up to all of us to help maintain self-esteem in women. One way of doing this is by allowing all women to express a full range of emotions without punitive putdowns.

If we feel anger it is vital we accept that anger can be a normal emotion. What we do with it matters; having it is normal.

  • It does not mean we are not coping, it means we are angry.
  • It does not mean that we have PMT, it means we are angry.
  • It does not mean we are bitchy, bossy or aggressive. It means we are angry.

Let us protect self-esteem in women by accepting that it is normal for women to feel and express anger. After all, there is so much injustice and inequality in the workplace, why wouldn't women be angry?

Self-esteem: Why wouldn't women be angry?

If we don't accept women's anger as natural and we subject them to such patronising and punitive remarks there is a danger the anger will go underground. This doesn't mean it will go away it just means it will get channelled into a different form of expression. It may turn into backstabbing, gossip, sarcasm or resentful and harmful actions.

None of these is healthy for self-esteem in women. Such actions can also harm relationships at work. Anger needs to be accepted in women and self-esteem in women protected.

What comments have you heard when you've been angry? Or do you keep your anger hidden for fear of such hurtful and pathetic comments from others?

If you hear comments like these how do you stop yourself from developing poor self-esteem?

Written by Rachel Green: Motivational Speaker | Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Click here to read her website

Copyright Rachel Green, 2010.

NB: This article is for your information only and does not constitute individual advice. Everyone is different. It is not provided as an alternative to obtaining professional advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Please seek the help you need.


Reader Comments (8)

Yes I have been called bossy for speaking out and have herad agressive bitch too.
Sat 11 Sep, 10 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorgiana
Hi Rachel, how do you explain woman who just get angry easily and won't listen to reasoning? How do i handle them? I've got a lot of those in customer service.
Sat 11 Sep, 10 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAmy Lau
Hi Amy,

Good question, yes both men and women get angry and upset especially over issues to do with money which is the area you are in I think. What matters is that you keep your cool and don't take it personally - stay gorgeous and don't go to their level.

Also people often get angry when they feel powerless or threatened or anxious - so look beyond their anger and find out what other feelings they have. Then see if there is anything in the way you explain things or what you do with them that can help reduce the chance of these feelings arising".

Keep your self-confidence no matter what they are like.
Sat 11 Sep, 10 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRachel Green
Another great article Rachel! I believe anger is the second most powerful emotion next to love and as an emotion deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Too often we see anger as a negative emotion and fear it, rather than seeing it as a powerhouse of creativity waiting to be reconfigured into fuel for solutions. Emotions are energy in motion and unfortunately misdirected e-motions lead to frustration and futility resulting in poor performance either personally or professionally.
In my experience, learning how to channel my anger and reconfigure it into solutions became a motivating force that ultimately rocked my world! Rather than remain a volcanic reaction waiting to explode, I chose to become resourcefully responsive and use my anger as fuel for solutions.
Inspiring confidence in all of our relationships requires us to own our own stuff and to always remember "be kind to everyone as we've all got stuff going on". Helping people save face and see anger just as an emotion and the symptom not the cause, allows us to confidently maintain our own sense of fit and belonging within ourselves.
Mon 13 Sep, 10 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBronwyn
'"Fuel for solutions" what a great concept Bronwyn. Thanks so much. Yes anger can be a very useful emotion - it is when people are angry over an injustice that they are most likely to do something to correct it.

What worries me about all these labels women get when they feel emotions is that it puts some women off from standing up for themselves. For example, when I run assertiveness courses for women and I ask them what they want so often they say they want to be assertive but without ever being aggressive. They coil in horror in case they get called "aggressive" or a "bitch" or one of these terms. This is allowing these terms to manipulate us and holds women back and gives our power away.

My concept is that we need to be able to choose the best way to communicate in any situation and to avoid making a choice because of manipulation.
Tue 14 Sep, 10 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRachel Green
You can add "feminist" to the list. I have stood up for myself and been called a "feminist", as if there is something wrong with being a feminist. It was meant as a put-down though, for sure.
Fri 24 Sep, 10 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarsha J
I've been labelled "emotional" or "too emotional" or "too sensitive" when I've been upset or angry, How come blokes aren't labelled as "emotional" when they get angry?
Fri 24 Sep, 10 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterFiona
The other thing that happens is that we get ignored. I have seen it time after time. I speak up at a meeting, or other women do, and the men simply don't hear us at all. We are literally unheard and ignored. A man says the same thing and peole listen and act on what he says.
Sat 25 Sep, 10 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexis

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