Introducing Our Founder, Business Psychologist Paula Gardner
Tell us about what you do and why?
I’m a business psychologist and the founder of The Bitch Network. I started The Bitch Network because I was meeting a lot of women who were holding themselves back because they felt they lacked confidence, or were feeling unheard or invisible. Some of the time what was holding them back was the fear of being seen as being too aggressive or being thought of as a show off or bitch. I wanted to create a place where they could learn what psychologists are finding out about being assertive, together with the latest research on confidence and self-esteem, and do that in a fun, inspiring and supportive club.
Can you tell us about one big moment or situation where you had to draw on your inner bitch to get through it?
I like to think of our inner bitch as that steely inner core that is there for us when we really need it. Getting through my dissertation was one time when I needed her. It was my inner bitch that kept me on track, reminding me that I could do it, that this was what I wanted. When I dithered about spending all that money on my degree, it was my inner bitch that reassured me that I was worth the investment
When was the last time your inner bitch came out?
I was accosted on the tube earlier this year. A man who appeared to be on drugs got onto my carriage and started grabbing my arm and shouting at me. My life wasn’t in danger or anything like that, but I was still scared. Then two things happened. First of all, I froze. I was torn between wanting to ignore him or smile and nod and keep him happy. The second was that nobody helped. Everyone’s body language changed and two women actively turned their backs so they wouldn’t see what was happening. I felt very isolated. Then he started grabbing me more fiercely, reaching over and holding me with two arms. It was this point when my Inner Bitch finally came out, and I pushed him off and shout “F*** off”.
This is why I think it’s so important that we talk about self-confidence and empowerment and all those sorts of things. It was by experiencing this that I realised there is so much going on – our cultural upbringing to be “nice”, our fear of what others might think if we make a scene. These things can really hold us back or in some extreme cases even endanger our lives.
What triggers your bitch?
Times when my sense of safety or security is being threatened, but I feel it would be useful to be able to channel her rather than have her triggered. There’s a strong energy and power there and who knows what we can do with it if we harness it!
What are your confidence/self-esteem wobbles (we all have them!)
I’m on the cusp between being an introvert and an extrovert. I’m quite happy talking on stage or networking with a room of people in a business situation, but in personal situations like parties or weddings I flip over into being the introvert and find myself tongue-tied or the outsider. Perhaps it’s one reason why I love my work so much, it empowers me. I have a strong personal interest in it.
Who are your bitch icons and why?
Kate Bush. She’s had a career in music but she’s done it her way, releasing albums only when she’s ready, even if it takes years. She very rarely does live gigs because she hates them, and you can see that she has stayed purely creative with her music, not bowing down to what’s the norm.
What’s your favourite piece of advice for anyone looking to find her inner bitch?
I think your bitch is easier to tap into when you know what matters to you, so getting clear on that is really important. We can then decide which battles are worth fighting and which ones don’t deserve our energy.
Where can we find you? (site/insta etc)
I consult and work as a business psychologist and executive coach over at http://www.scarletthinking.com. Here at http://www.thebitchnetwork.com obviously. We are also @thebitchnetwork on Instagram. We’re also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theselfconfidenceclub/ and Twitter is @TheBitchNetwork