When a man fails, he blames someone else. When a woman fails, she blames herself. Women have this appalling tendency to internalize everything.

He didn’t call. (I must have done something wrong.)

The job went to someone else. (I am good for nothing.)

It’s been a bad day. (I am the unluckiest person in the world. )

The waitress is rude. (She hates me.)

Women have this rapacious need to not only have an answer for every one of life’s disappointments, but to also blame themselves. Why do we insist on being the axis on which the earth spins? Is it possible that not every failure is directly caused by our own existence?

Men have a completely different approach to the obstacles in life.

She didn’t call. (Who cares?)

The job went to someone else. (Who cares?)

It’s been a bad day. (Who cares?)

The waitress is rude. (Who cares?)

Okay, so I may be oversimplifying the male reaction, but I suspect I’m pretty close. Essentially men have the effortless ability to take many of life’s burdens and neutralize them immediately. These “failures” or obstacles are not a specific punishment for one person, they are just examples of the ups and downs of life. A common occurrence and one not to get worked up over.

These events are not defining moments alerting us to our personal failures in life. As women, we take things far too personally. The statement I hear quite frequently is, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” But to me business is personal. The people I interact with daily are a part of my life. How can I not take things personally? I blame it on my overachieving tendencies in life that started at an extremely young age. I always wanted to finish my homework early. My book reports were completed a week before deadline. My handwriting was impeccable.  I was always on time. I never misbehaved. I was, essentially, a teachers’ pet from 1st grade through college and prided myself on my blue ribbon life. But that doesn’t last forever.

In adulthood, things change. People are not going to like you because you do everything “right.” Staying within the lines doesn’t guarantee friendships or love. Business associates don’t care if you tried your hardest. There is no “A” for effort.  And so we beat ourselves up internally. We fail on a daily basis. And yes, we may take this all too personally. But it is our life. The only one we have been given. If we want to keep striving for that blue ribbon, no one is going to stop us. But there is a catch! There is only one person who is capable of awarding us that ribbon, that symbol of success and achievement, and it isn’t our boss, our husband, our children or our parents.

The recognition has to come from within.

We have to stop blaming life’s mistakes and failures on ourselves. No more heaping it onto our overburdened shoulders. When we get knocked down, which we will, we have to pick ourselves up and move on. And when that happens, we will hold tight to the blue ribbon that is nestled safely in the palm of our hands.

Do you take things too personally?

Do you think men have a healthier approach to failure?

Do we become more accepting of ourselves with age or achievement?

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