A Dozen Ways Girls Can Keep Their Power

Raising Daughters | Girl Power


It’s easy to lose your power away, and girls spend much time giving their power away. Once you lose your power, you start to lose and destroy your confidence and self-esteem. In this episode, Dr. Jordan describes a dozen ways girls can keep their power to build confidence and self-esteem. Let’s find out how girls give away their power and how we can turn that around. Tune in to this episode as Dr. Jordan dives even deeper into today’s conversation.


Show Notes:

Listen in as Dr. Jordan describes 12 ways girls can keep their power to build confidence and self-esteem.

Know what you want and ask for it.

Do not care what others think or let judgments affect you

Redecide (-) beliefs from past experiences and be in charge of their stories

Take full responsibility for your feelings, reactions, and actions

Handle conflicts directly & effectively


Set clear, firm boundaries= take care of you:

Catch if comparing self: switch & keep focus internal; acknowledge the other person vs. make it mean something (-) about you

Trust your intuition no matter what and act from it

Engage in your passions

Surround yourself with loving, supportive people

Define and express your authentic self

Redefine power, strength, and leadership on your terms

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A Dozen Ways Girls Can Keep Their Power

This would be a good time to grab your daughter and tune in to this show with her because today, I’m going to do my follow-up from the episode Ways That Girls Give Their Power Away. That would be a good one to tune in to with your daughters. I’m going to talk about Ways Girls Can Keep Their Power. It’s a very important topic. I work with girls all the time in my counseling practice at weekend retreats, summer camps, and school programs. Girls spend a lot of time giving their power away. I told you many of the different ways in the last episode about how they do that. Now, I’m focusing on what you can do to help your daughters keep their power.

One of the most common ways I see girls give their power away is when they have an automatic response to people who ask them what they want. The automatic response tends to be, “I don’t know. I don’t care. Whatever you want.” One important way they can learn to keep their power is by taking some time to figure out, “What do I want?” If someone says, “Where do you want to go to eat tonight on a Friday night?” If your first automatic response is, “I don’t care. I don’t know,” catch yourself and say, “Can I get back to you in just a moment?” Take a quick break and check in, “What do I want? Where do I want to go eat tonight?”

Take some time to figure out, “What do I want?” Click To Tweet

I saw a girl a bunch of years ago. She was about a senior in high school. She was having a hard time making decisions. She had lost touch with herself, desires, needs, and wants because she had been a pleaser for so long. She told me that when she was back in grade school about 3rd or 4th grade, she used to be the kid who didn’t care what people thought. She wore these purple high-top tennis shoes to school every day. She loved dressing up. She was a fashionista, until one day in 3rd or 4th grade, some girls started teasing her about her shoes.

She was devastated. They told her they were ugly and she didn’t know how to dress. She took it to heart. She stopped being herself. She stopped wearing her purple tennis shoes. She stopped advocating for herself. She started looking around to say, “How can I please other people? I do not want to lose my friends. I don’t want to be teased.” She did everything she could to fit in and blend in. That meant making decisions to not make people angry, not disappoint people, and to please people.

I hope you become aware of that. I had her start doing some experiments. I said, “Places where it doesn’t matter as much.” For instance, if you go to a restaurant and the waiter says, “What do you want to order here at this Italian restaurant?” You said, “I guess I have this spaghetti,” even though that’s not what you want. I always tell girls, “Do some experiments where you say, “Let me look at this menu for a moment,” and then take the risk to say, “I’d rather have angel hair pasta, not the big fat pasta. I love black olives. Could you add some black olives? I love sun-dried tomatoes. Can you add some extra sun-dried tomatoes?” Ask for exactly what you want.

Her fear is that the waiter will be mad at her. He’s probably back in the back spitting on her food, but the truth is when the waiter comes back with her plate of angel hair pasta with extra olives and extra sun-dried tomatoes, she loves it. She enjoys it, great meal. She’s happy. She’d be much more likely to give the guy or the woman a big tip. Everybody is happy.

The experiments are about if you state your opinion, check out what happens. The truth is almost all the time nothing bad happens. If you tell your friends you want to go to a certain movie, they usually don’t explode and tell you you’re no longer their friend. They say, “Great,” most of the time. Learning to take a break and check in with themselves. Ask yourselves questions like, “What do I want?” I tell them, “You have to learn to care. You’re teaching people how to treat you. Your thoughts and needs are important because if they don’t put those out there, then people are going to decide that you are not important and they’ll stop asking you. Know what you want and ask for it. That’s one way to keep your power.

Another way is to not care what other people think or let their judgments affect you. I saw a girl when she was sixteen years old. I’ll call her Jane. She was teased in fifth grade because she was the first girl to go through puberty. She was taller than all the girls and boys in the class. She started getting breasts and butt and getting a little curvy. She was being teased by kids for being fat. They were calling her giraffe and all kinds of names like that. It hurt her feelings badly. She became very self-conscious.

She had a hard time accepting herself for who she was. Because of that, she shut down. She cared way too much about what other people thought. She was afraid of being judged so she did whatever she could to fit in. I helped her to learn to accept herself for who she was. She had to embrace that she was the first one who had gone through puberty. What they were saying was garbage. She learned to embrace her height and curves.

Accept Yourself

She came to one of our camps one summer. We were talking about this issue of learning how to accept yourself. We are creating mantras for each person. The mantra she created for herself was, “Instead of saying I’m fat or I’m bigger than other people,” She decided to say to herself, “I have the body of a woman, i.e. I have curves.” That made a huge difference in how she thought about herself. Another way to keep your power is for girls to become aware of any negative beliefs that they’ve accumulated about themselves based on past experiences.

Raising Daughters | Girl Power
Girl Power: Another way to keep your power is for girls to become aware of negative beliefs they’ve accumulated about themselves based on past experiences.


I saw a girl who I’ll call Lucy. She lost her big friend group when she was in fifth grade. When she started sixth grade, she was worried about not fitting in and not having friends. She decided that maybe if she lost some weight and was thinner, she’d be prettier. If she’s prettier, she would have more friends. She started having lots of issues with her body, with eating, and body dysmorphism. She had a lot of beliefs about not being worthy or not being very important. She thought she was weird. She thought she was too quiet. She was afraid of showing her true self because she was afraid, “If I do, I’ll lose my friends again.”

That’s how she started sixth grade. She had a rotten time in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade because she couldn’t find good friends because she wasn’t being herself. She decided after I saw her in my office to read aside those negative beliefs. She decided when she entered high school that she was going to reinvent herself and not care about what other people thought so much because she believed, and I think it’s true, that if you walk into high school or a new situation as your true authentic self and you attract friends, they’re going to be great friends because they’re attracted to you, not some facade of you, not some fake you or some photoshop version of you. It’s hard to have good true friends unless you’re being true to yourself and you’re being authentic.

I saw another girl one time when she was seventeen because she was having some bad experiences with guys not setting boundaries. I went back in her history. She told me that she had started losing her confidence in seventh grade because her best friends ditched her. Her beliefs became that she was weird and not good enough that she didn’t fit in. Because she felt unworthy and not important, she didn’t feel like she deserved to set boundaries and take care of herself.

That’s a very common story among girls and one of the reasons why they have a hard time setting good boundaries. If you don’t set good boundaries, you are giving your power away. I tell all girls to take some time and reassess, “What have I learned to believe about myself? Some of the things I believe about myself, based on experiences, are positive, good, and empowering. Some of the things are not. They’re negative beliefs.”

I tell them, “You weren’t in charge of the things that happened to you, but you are always in charge of what you make of it. You are always in charge of your story.” That’s an important distinction to make for girls. I also want girls to keep their power by taking full responsibility for their feelings, reactions, and actions. If I ever hear girls using statements like, “She made me feel,” I always go, “Time out. Who’s in charge of your feelings?” “I am?” They always say the question mark. I’ll say, “What if someone calls you a rotten name, then who’s in charge of your feelings?” They go, “I am or they are?” They get confused.

I want them to know that they’re always responsible for their feelings and their reactions to people. They’re not in charge of what comes at them oftentimes, but they are in charge of what they do with it. I never want them to have statements like, “She made me feel.” It’s more like, “I chose to feel. That person did something and I chose to feel hurt, unhappy, angry, or whatever.” If they can buy into that concept of keeping their power, they will end up experiencing freedom which is awesome because no one has the power to make them feel anything because they’re in charge of themselves.

Handle Your Conflicts

I explained in the previous episode that one way girls give their power away is by not handling their conflicts directly and effectively. One of the ways they can keep their power is to handle their conflicts and to let go of that fear of “If I take care of myself, people are going to hate me. They’re going to be mad at me. I’m a loser friend. I’m going to lose a whole friend group.” That could happen if they try and handle the conflict, but if they’re trying to be honest with a friend and their friend blows up, stomps off, and says, “You’re not my friend anymore,” they’ve told you something about them as a friend. They say more about them than you.

I was working with the sixth-grade class. We were giving the girls some ideas about how to solve conflicts peacefully. We gave them a set of guidelines. We asked if anybody wanted to handle a conflict. These were girls who were in seventh grade. One of the girls raises her hand. She’s like, “I like to handle something.” She asked permission. She asked the other girl if she minded coming in the middle of the circle and handling it. The girl was like, “Okay.”

We said, “You don’t have to.” She said, “I’ll do it.” They sat in the middle of the circle. First of all, she said, “Thank you for doing this. The reason I’m asking you to do this is because, for the last six months, I feel like I’ve been avoiding you. We used to be good friends. It feels different lately and I wanted us to get back on track,” then she said, “You said something to me about six months ago that hurt my feelings.” The girl who was sharing all this had a hard time making friends earlier in middle school.

She had finally found a couple of people. She had a little group. One day she decided to dredge up the courage, to be a little bit more honest with her friend. She told her that during the winter time, sometimes she gets seasonal affective disorder. She gets a little depressed when there’s not much sunshine and when it’s cold out. Sometimes when she comes to school and she’s a little bit crabby or shut down, it’s not because she’s mad at people which is what some of the girls thought, “It’s because I don’t feel good. I have that seasonal depression.”

The other girl who she was telling it to laughed and said, “I had that too, but I think yours is a lot worse than mine,” and then she walked away. This hurt her feelings because she was like, “I opened up. I got vulnerable hoping that that would strengthen our friendship, instead, you blew it off and dismissed me.” The other girl was mirroring her and doing a good job. When the girl talked about how she felt minimized, this girl started to get teary and some tears started coming down her cheeks. She realized the effect of her words on her friend.

When the girl was finished sharing, she felt like she had hurt the other girl and had a chance to share how she felt and she was crying. She said, “I’m sorry. It was not my intention to make you feel hurt. I don’t know why I said that. I was uncomfortable with the feelings and part of it all, but I appreciate you telling me. I feel bad.” She’s crying. The girls hugged. They made some commitments about being more honest with each other. One girl said, “I will not wait six months next time if you do something that bothers me.” They hugged and went back in the circle.

That’s valuable for girls to have that skill and for them to handle stuff because what happens in schools over and over is what happened six months ago, the girl doesn’t handle it. There are feelings inside about being hurt, upset, and angry. Those feelings stay there. They fester and cause drama. It causes all kinds of friendship issues that don’t need to be there if they would handle things, shake, hug, and move on. Another good healthy way to keep your power is to set clear boundaries to take care of yourself.

Set Clear Boundaries

I tell girls oftentimes when anger arises within them, that’s a sign that their boundaries are being crossed. It’s probably a sign that they’ve been wronged and there is some injustice going on. I often encourage them to use that feeling to inspire some action, not to scream at people or to yell at people but to inspire some actions to set a boundary. If they set a boundary to take care of themselves, I tell them that some people will be like, “I’m glad you told me.” Other people will be upset. Other people will react in some other way, but it doesn’t matter. That is not their responsibility.

Remember I said that they’re always responsible for their feelings and reactions? By the way, so is everybody else. If there’s some anger and they realize, “I need to take care of myself,” and they do that in a kind but firm way, they will feel very empowered. If they have a good friend who’s mature, then the other friend should be able to say, “I’m glad you told me. I didn’t realize that hurt your feelings. I didn’t realize you didn’t want that.” I want them to become aware of how good it feels when you take care of yourself like that. Girls feel more confident and strong, and they feel more like they’re in integrity with themselves.

Another way to keep your power. Girls do a lot of the comparing themselves to other people, especially their peers, usually negatively. They see a friend and they think, “She looks so good today in that outfit. She looks pretty.” The tendency is to go inside their heads and say, “I wish I was pretty like her. I’m ugly. I don’t look anything like her,” and they make it about them, instead of if they see something that they like in somebody else, to go to that person and acknowledge them for it.

Comparing Yourself To Others

Go to that friend and say, “I like the way you look in that outfit,” then stop. Don’t let it mean, “I’m ugly.” Just acknowledge the other person because, number one, people like to be acknowledged and keep the energy out there instead of the arrow pointing in a negative way. Don’t let your acknowledgments of other people end up meaning something negative about you. Another great way to keep your power is to trust your gut and your intuition no matter what, to act from that as opposed to what are other people doing or trying to please people or not making people upset with you, and all those things.

I encourage girls to learn to have quiet alone time. Shut out all the external noise and learn to go inward, learn how to become aware of their gut intuition, and then once they’re aware of it, trust and follow it as opposed to being externally directed and worrying about everybody else as opposed to, “What’s right for me?” I also encourage girls to surround themselves with loving supportive people who treat them like they deserve to be treated and give energy equally as opposed to sucking energy where their reciprocal that they invite youth as much as you invite them, etc.

“If you’re one of those mature girls who are there for your friends, you also have friends who are there for you.” One of the ways to find those kinds of people is to engage in your passions. Do things that you love to do. Do things that bring you joy and fulfillment because when you’re doing those things, you’re more you. You’re more confident. When you have a choice about what you do, you tend to be more engaged in it and more willing to persist through tough times.

You end up being better at it. How you become a master of your craft is when you engage in your passions and you keep at things. You don’t care what other people think. You don’t care if it’s something that other people think is weird. You do it because you love to do it and when you do that, you will start attracting other people who also have that interest. That’s a great way to find your tribe.

I saw a girl in my counseling practice earlier this school year who had been labeled one of the weird kids. She had hair every month or two, which was a different color. She was one of those “emo” kind of kids. She had a hard time making friends because she was different. She had been teased and harassed ever since about 4th to 5th grade. She had a hard time finding a group. One of the things that she did that semester was to try out theatre.

She didn’t like to act. She was too self-conscious, but she joined the set team, making the sets for the play and she did the lighting kind of things as well. She found a tribe. They accepted her for who she was. She became a “theater kid,” but she was happy as a clam because she was doing something that she liked to do. She found some people who supported her.

I read a book years ago called Smart Girls Gifted Women. The book was okay, but one of the things I liked about it a lot was that part of the way through the book, the author biographied 30 very eminent women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Beverly Sills the opera singer, Georgia O’Keeffe, the painter, and Marie Curie, the scientist. What she found was when all those girls were young, they had a hard time socially fitting the mold. A lot of them didn’t have great friends in middle school or high school because they didn’t fit the mold.

What people like Margaret Mead and Eleanor Roosevelt did in those times was paint, sing, play instruments, and do science experiments. They did their passions. They developed their passions. By the end of high school and beyond, they started to find people who also shared their interests and their love. They started to build their tribes.

One of our campers, who was also one of our camp counselors in late high school had been through a partying stage early in high school. She went away to college. In the first few months, she realized that a lot of people were, in her mind, immature. They spent a lot of time getting wasted, drunk, barfing, and all that kind of stuff. She was like, “I have been there. Done that.” She wants something different. She found on campus a rock climbing club.

They met a lot on the weekends and would go off to state parks. They would do all kinds of climbing and not just belaying down cliffs, which is awesome in and of itself. They also did some hardcore rock climbing where they were doing the things. They hammer this stuff in. You rely on the person above and below you. She said, “I got so much positive stuff not just from the group, but I learned about teamwork and relying on other people, relying on myself.” She found a tribe. If you engage in your passions and you start doing things that you love to do, then you’ll probably be around people who you’ll be able to connect with even better.

Express Your Authentic Self

It’s important along these lines to start learning how to keep your power by defining and expressing your authentic self to let your light shine. I had a girl who I saw a couple of years ago. I’ll call her Mia. She left high school with no best friend. She was tired of fake people and friendships. She had a group but it was like, “Eh,” just superficial-ish. She wanted something better and deeper. When she started college, she went away and said, “I’m going to reinvent myself. I’m going to walk on campus and as my true self. I’m going to try new things and hang out with different kinds of people.”

What she said was scary at first. By the end of the 1st semester and into the 2nd semester, she had a tight circle of like-minded friends because she was willing to take the risk to do that. That’s a great way for your daughters to not just keep their power but also to take care of themselves. Another important concept I want girls to think about as far as keeping their power is to define power, strength, and leadership on their terms.

Define Power, Strength, And Leadership On Their Terms

Whether or not your daughter becomes the leader of the free world, it is probably less important that every one of them acquire the skills to carve out the life that they deserve and desire. They need to learn to make decisions based on their own moral compass, to set their own board, and to trust their intuition. They need to learn how to quiet themselves, be alone, go inward, connect with and trust their intuition and urges, and then use that to guide their choices, not what everybody else is doing.

You could always use everyday examples that you see in real life, on TV shows, in movies, and in books. Use everyday examples like that to demonstrate the ways that you see girls keeping their power and giving it away. Bring it up. Have discussions with the daughter about what she notices about that character. Girls need to practice advocating for themselves. They need practice and permission to set boundaries. They need to learn how to be assertive and to understand the difference between being assertive and aggressive in their relationships because they don’t know that.

Raising Daughters | Girl Power
Girl Power: Girls need to practice advocating for themselves. They need practice and permission to set boundaries.


If they become more interdicted to have a much higher sense of their own personal awareness, they will have more access to their intuition and urges. They possess the courage to get out of their comfort zones and to go for it, to stand up for other people and for themselves. I read a story about the former premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. One time after he had taken power from Stalin, he was on stage speaking to the politburo and he was denouncing the crimes of the Stalin regime, talking about how it was wrong and bad. He went on and on.

Anonymously, someone in the group passed a note to the front of the room. The note said yes, “I think what you’re saying is true, but where were you at that time?” Without losing a beat Khrushchev with a very intimidating tone shouted out and asked, “Who wrote this note? I want to know who wrote the note.”

They were silent and nobody stepped forward. Khrushchev, “I was where you are now.” Meaning, in the audience, anonymous, intimidated and doing nothing just like everybody else. I don’t want your daughters to be like that. I want your daughters to be able to step up and take care of themselves, be an advocate, and keep their power. It’s important that they become aware of the ways they’re giving it away and also ways that they can keep it. It’s an important way that you can support them in taking care of themselves.

Your daughters need to step up and care for themselves, be an advocate, and keep their power. Click To Tweet

Let me end this with one of my favorite stories. It’s about a little girl who had black skin who one day was at a fairground. She walked up and was looking around, noticing all the rides and things. She saw a man in a kiosk. He was selling helium-filled balloons. This guy was a pretty good salesperson because every once in a while, he would cut the string of a balloon and it would sore up into the air. Everybody would see the balloon and go, “Look at the balloon.” They would come over and buy one of his balloons.

She was watching this go on for about 10 or 15 minutes. She inched closer and closer to the kiosk. When she got there, there was just one balloon left and it was a black balloon. The man said to her, “Can I help you?” She said, “Yes. That black balloon goes as high as the other ones.” The man looked down at her with an understanding smile and said, “It’s not the color that’s important. What’s important is what’s inside.” That’s true for your daughters as well. Help them keep their power. Help them learn to let go of those ways of giving their power away and you’re going to have a different daughter living in your home. You’re going to have a different daughter when you launch her off into the world when she’s eighteen or beyond.

This is an important concept. This is an important part of your parenting job. Tune in to this with your daughters. Have discussions. I hope this relates to some conversations. Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for sharing this show. Check me out on my website at www.DrTimJordan.com. I have an online course that I did called Parenting Girls. It’s about girls’ emotional lives and their friendship lives. if you want more information like we talked about here and understanding what your girls are going through and ways to support them, check out our website. It’s called Parenting Girls. It would be helpful. I will see you back here. Thank you so much for stopping by.


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