Difficult Women


This article is about the type of women who are sometimes labeled “difficult.” These are women who speak up and take action when they think something needs improvement. These women are discerning; they challenge the status quo, keep on questioning, break rules, and think independently. They may be defiant and persevering in supporting a cause. These women are often heroes.

Cheryl Strayed, a best-selling author who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone and described it in a memoir that was made into the popular movie “Wild,” said that difficult women don’t say yes just because people expect it. They are “ambitious and bold, adventurous and emotional, brainy and defiant, incorrigible and outlandish, determined and badass.”

Difficult women and their detractors

In history and fiction, these women inspire us. In fiction, there are so many: from Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) to Eowyn (Lord of the Rings) to Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). History has brought us extraordinary women such as Alice Paul, Amelia Earhart, Dorothy Height, Erin Brockovich, Susan B. Anthony, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Malala Yousafzai.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Malala Yousafzai

People who are invested in the status quo will scorn and resist women who demand progress and change. They expect a woman to behave in a certain way and fall into line. They may perceive the challenge as a lack of respect for how things have been.

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”

Albert Einstein

How to make productive changes

A woman with strong convictions needs inner confidence to put herself out there. She needs to find creative ways to communicate clear, profound, effective ideas. She needs to be calm, yet energetic. She should be adaptable and flexible. The only way to accomplish all these skills in one stroke is to develop the full potential we have within us.

The Transcendental Meditation technique is the most effortless, effective, scientifically validated method to accomplish this.

During TM, our attention shifts from our usual active thinking level to experience subtler levels of thinking and even experience the quiet calm that transcends the thinking process, resting silently in this pure potentiality of consciousness. Consciousness is the simplest most settled state of an awake mind. It is the level of awareness within us from which all our ideas arise. It is the fundamental level of our thinking mind. It is our inner nature. From this, the full power of consciousness is enlivened, resulting in greater clarity, alertness, focus, creativity and better decision-making in activity.

Research also shows that TM has profound positive effects on health, stress levels, brain function and more. As the mind settles during the practice, the body experiences deep, rejuvenating rest. This unique healing rest produces measurable reductions in stress, anxiety and depression. Self-esteem and inner confidence develop. We become more resilient, flexible and adaptable.

“Fight for the things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The settledness of our calm, clear mind positions us to really listen–without anxiety–to what others have to say, deeply consider their perspectives and respond creatively, usefully and amicably without compromising our vision. TM twice daily increases clarity and calm continually over time. GinaMarie Guarino, a licensed mental health counselor at PsychPoint, says, “This is where radical honesty with oneself and willingness to change and be flexible is paramount.”

Our choice

From CEOs to mothers-at-home, strong women built our society by defying stereotypes.

As modern women, we have the choice daily of who and how we want to be, and how we want to influence the world. As rising leaders, the world welcomes and needs our intuition, heart and expanded vision. No matter what our sphere of influence–family, community, government, environment–with the growth of consciousness our influence will be more profound and impactful.

Unfolding our full potential of consciousness liberates natural unbounded energy, creativity and intelligence, maturing us into the best version of ourselves as a woman. Even a “difficult” woman can feel, think, and act in harmony with her own nature and the world around her.

“Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.” 

Anne Frank

Become a productive change-maker: contact your local TM teacher


About the Authors

Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals, a division of TM for Women in the USA

Vanessa Vidal is the national director of TM for Women in the USA