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How to Be a Strong Woman

Updated on July 7, 2010

Don't Complain--Act!

     The Action Method for Women.  You were a cheerful kid and you tackled adult life with vigor.  Then things started to go wrong.  Your marriage required more work and provided less joy than you had hoped.  Your co-workers were not as helpful or as respectful as you wished, as you now tell your spouse during evenings when you both know there are more rewarding ways to spend the time.

     You have a point.  But complaining is not helping.  You are not of the grin and bear it school.  How do you stop complaining without growing silent and bitter like some of your elders?

     First, a quick look at the history of complaining.  Our grandmothers could not change their lives; listening to one another’s woes was all they had.  This is a centuries long agreement to commiserate with one another—com + miserate means to be with in misery.  This female tendency to talk among sisters is one of the chief traits John Gray identified as a Venus or female characteristic, but it is not wired in.  It was adopted during years of oppression when women could not refuse a brutal husband, one who drank himself into a stupor, even one who beat the children.  A woman could only leave if she was willing to walk into the forest and die—and how could that help the children?  So she stayed and talked with other women about her plight.  It was better than keeping silent.  Complaining was once a positive trait.  It kept the family from exploding.  (The opposite tendency, which Gray identified as a Mars or male trait, is also not wired in.  Men found that to talk was to reveal weakness, a perception of themselves they could not afford in brutal times.)

     Complaining is no longer a positive trait.  Women can now do something about their lives.  It just requires using new mental-emotional muscles.  Here’s how:

1)      Act.  Make things go the way you feel they should go.  For example, if a co-worker is short with you, don’t let it slide.  Ask, “Are you upset with me?  What was that about?”  Get to the bottom of any exchanges that don’t meet your standards of courtesy and truth.  At home and at work and in politics, whatever is right, make sure it happens.

2)      Be courageous.  Don’t be afraid of how others will react.  We say, “He’s gonna kill me!”  But the killing is no longer a literal threat and you can stand up to anger.    (Killing may be literal in politics and in some degraded neighborhoods, but even then—especially then—there is courage.  Death is not as bad as self-betrayal.)

3)      Practice.  Practice standing up to anger, standing for what is right.  If you have seen the movie Invictus, you have seen in Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela how not to get intimidated.  When was the last time the US had a leader who knew who he was and what he stood for?  But Mandela is not made of any different stuff.  With courage and practice we can all be like that.  Parents can practice by not giving in to a toddler tantrum or a small child’s whining.

4)      Report.  If something goes wrong that you can't immediately fix, talk to the person in charge of the area or write a report.  Then follow up.  Find out what happens to the reports you write.  Who reads them?  What action is taken?  If the new people next door start a bottle dump in the back yard, don’t yell.  Help them see that this affects the neighborhood.  If they don’t respond, tell them—gently and firmly—that you will call the appropriate city authority.  When you do call, follow through until the problem is solved.

5)      Relax.  Distinguish those things that are in your control and those that are not.  For example, eating and using the toilet are in the control of the child.  The parent can help the child, but it’s best to keep in mind that the child will decide what to eat and when to use the toilet—and will make better decisions when parental guidance does not become harassment.

6)      Assess.  Take any action that is courteous and legal.  Doing this helps you concentrate on your work and play and lets you sleep serene.  If you do get to the end of the day with a grievance, pinpoint where you let things go off track and decide to fix it the next day.

7)      Improve.  If after practice you still notice yourself complaining sometimes, spot the point where you allowed yourself to feel less than able to get the outcome you wanted.  Decide to do better.  Believe in you.  You are not Chicken Little running down the road to get the king to fix what is not broken.  You are powerful.  Sweet dreams.


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    • PJ Stuart profile image

      PJ Stuart 5 years ago

      Thank you for the excellent work. There is no greater gift than to listen and really hear anothers pain. It open doors to not only showing love to others, but learning to live our own lives with greater spirit and wisdom. I just finished a Hub about Mothers/Sisters/Woman and how vital we are to the little girls in our lives. I long for true sisterhood....All the best, PJ Stuart

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 6 years ago from Bantam, CT

      Thanks, Sonya. Yes, we are amazingly powerful.

    • Sonya L Morley profile image

      Sonya L Morley 6 years ago from Edinburgh

      You write so well about this interesting topic. Standing up for ourselves and for what we believe is right can be frightening; letting it simmer away and grow bigger in the mind is someting I do every now and then, so I appreciate an article like this. We are, after all, more powerful than we give ourselves credit for most of the time. Great hub.

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 6 years ago from Bantam, CT

      Izettl, thanks for stopping by. You give an accurate and helpful summary of why we do tend to back down at work. And gratitude to have grown wiser.

      Jeanine, glad you read this one. Yes, fathers often do love and believe in their daughters. And you make a very good point that we women, as we come into our power, can moderate male politics. I have seen men rise above violence, but until they do so in greater numbers, it is up to us women. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Jeanine 6 years ago

      TJ.... I love this read...women are destined to more than most men are willing to think... and you are right, stand up and declare what is right within you.... a lot of men are waiting for woman to see yourself as her father sees her... think about that image... except for a few bad apples, the relationship between father and daughter is the most idealistic in the entire world, I for one eagerly await her coming of age.... for the dream that men were given is not that dream... in fact it is a much more violent dream... war, hate, deceit within w frame of him trying to live with a family... which is totally contrary too the rest of his life... you, we, all man and womankind must unite and embrace the dream that women have for the world... it is pure and needs to be exalted over man's... your's is full of love, compassion, laughter and also deceit, but never between the father and daughter, she has some type of spell on that's the dream you must embrace and commit to teach the rest of the world... does that make sense....I absolutely love this idea Triciajean... every one woman and man alike should have copy to read... each day...

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      I struggled with some of this in the workforce. I was expected to work with a male mentality but be quiet and agreeable as expected from women. I think women get into gossiping because when we confront people it never is viewed for what it is- we can sometimes be called names or men blame it on our hormones or something like that. Just to be strong I feel like I've done a lot of fighting- sometimes feeling as though I've wasted energy. I pick my battles now and have boundaries set beforehand.

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 7 years ago from Bantam, CT

      Thanks for your sensitive comment, thoughtforce. Yes, we sure are the lucky beneficiaries of some hard fought wins.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      This is a wonderful hub and good advices! I am so grateful to the women who lived before me and made it possible for my generation to be a strong woman. We don’t need to stay with a brutal husband and we now have the power to change our life. I also like the way you make clear that complaining isn’t a typical female behaviour. Voted up! Tina

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 7 years ago from Bantam, CT

      Thanks, agaglia. I did read your poem, with great pleasure. Just the kind of woman I like to write about. Your poem fits very will with this hub.

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 7 years ago

      Good job on the strong women tips triciajean. Check out my poem "woman of capacity" and see if that fits with your idea of a strong woman. this was a good read.

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 7 years ago from Bantam, CT

      You are welcome, dear sister roseb. Please cheer for me, too.

    • roseb profile image

      roseb 7 years ago from Va.

      This is a great hub and one I needed to read right now. Thank you for sharing this encouragement to act instead of complain.