Why We Need to Stop Comparing Ourselves to Other Women and How to Do It
Although it’s not among the finest traits of the female species, there is no denying that we have a tendency to compare ourselves to other women (hell, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of it too); sometimes so much so that it affects the way that we feel about ourselves in terms of our self-esteem, perceived capabilities and even self-worth. We can get so wrapped up in other women’s achievements, looks or ways of being, that we completely neglect our own strengths, accomplishments and victories. I’m not saying all women do this, I’m just saying that most women do this at some point in their lives, and that it ain’t pretty. Rather than admiring, getting inspired by and learning from other women, the ugly truth is that women often get insecure, jealous and competitive.
Sometimes we just can’t stop ourselves from subconsciously asking the self-destructive question: ‘what does she have that I don’t?’.
Don’t get me wrong, competition can be a healthy way of pushing yourself further and reaching new goals, but competing with another woman’s looks, personality traits or relationship status is completely meaningless; we’re never gonna be anyone but ourselves. When we look at other women and feel envious, what we really see are our own perceived flaws and short-comings; it’s not really about her at all, it’s about us. Rather than seeing the other woman for who she truly is, we see our own insecurities reflected in her strengths and paint a false picture of perfection – although we all know deep inside that perfection does not exist.
Last year, I met this gorgeous woman who has so much going for her; she’s intelligent, driven, funny, interesting, super fit and on top of all of that, she’s absolutely stunning. After getting to know her, however, I learned that she was just as insecure as anyone else. It broke my heart to see that, despite being a total #girlboss to the outside world, she couldn’t see herself as the amazing woman that she was. Her insecurities made me feel weird, ashamed of myself and quite frankly, sad – because her insecurities were my insecurities and seeing how ridiculous they were made me realize how much time we’d both been wasting not feeling good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, healthy enough or smart enough – not anything enough, really. I think we were both kind of disappointed in each other; the woman that we thought of as this strong, confident,”no bullshit power woman” was struggling with the same insecurities as ourselves. Do you see where I’m going with this? We are all of those things, we’re just refusing to see it because we’re wasting our time focusing on the things we think we’re missing. Do you see what the only real flaw a lot of women have is?
Maybe it’s time to let go of the “if only I was skinnier, prettier and smarter, my life would be perfect” mentality and start living life as the fabulous women that we are?
What if you for a second stopped comparing yourself to other women and started appreciating the fact that you have been born with the privilege of living life on earth as a capable, strong and healthy woman? I don’t want to trigger your anxiety, but we’re literally all gonna die in the end, so do you want to spend your time comparing yourself to other women or spend it enjoying the amazing person that you are? Other women’s success is NEVER your failure and I don’t know what led us to believe that in the first place. The best thing we can do for ourselves (and each other) is to realize how stupid, self-destructive and meaningless comparing ourselves to other women is, and help each other overcome our insecurities by having each others backs – rather than letting jealousy get the best of us. Women are supposed to be striving for gender equality together, and we’ll never win that battle if we keep viewing other women as negative competition.
Like with most bad habits, getting rid of them isn’t always done overnight, so…
If You Admire Something About Another Woman, Let Her Know
Regardless of whether it’s her career, relationship, positive outlook on life, appearances, perfume or just the color of her dress that particular day – let her know. As women we have a tendency to put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves in terms of most aspects of our lives, which also means that receiving validation or praise for our hard work can mean so much. I don’t mean to undermine a genuine complement from a man, but a genuine complement from another woman often just means so much more (sorry, guys). Since women almost instinctively compare ourselves to each other, it feels amazing when someone breaks the pattern and says: “wow, I’m so proud of you for achieving that, you’re such an amazing woman!”.
Instead of being jealous of your friend for something great she accomplished; be proud of her, support her, ask her how she did it and learn from her. Instead of being envious of another woman’s looks; tell her she’s beautiful and focus on what you like about yourself and how you can emphasize those features. Instead of thinking that another woman is braver and more courageous than you; get to know her, find out where she finds her strength and use her courageousness as inspiration.
If you think about it, I’m sure you can recall a time when a woman said something to you that made you feel amazing, and then you probably said something really nice back to her, or paid a compliment forward to the next person you met. And then that made you feel good too because making other people feel good makes us feel good. I’m a strong believer in the fact that people don’t always remember exactly what you said to them, but they always remember how you made them feel; make it a point to be a woman who makes other women feel strong, beautiful and confident and you’ll inspire other women to do the same.
In workplaces dominated by men especially, competition between women can get real. Although it doesn’t make any sense, women working in offices and at companies whith a predominant male presence sometimes tend to compete with each other, rather than working together to form one strong female voice. I find this phenomenon absolutely ridiculous; how on earth are we gonna achieve gender equality if don’t stick up for one another and have each other’s backs in the workplace?
If your female co-worker is having a hard time in a meeting or difficulties getting her ideas through, help her – the voice of two women in a room of just men is twice as powerful. Speak up where she can’t, have her back when she needs you to, talk positively about her to other people – both in front of her and when she’s not there. Cooperate, inspire and empower the women around you.
You know that woman who makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world when you’re speaking; her eyes are on you, she’s making eye contact and she’s asking questions about relevant things at just the right moments. She listens, she’s there. Don’t you just LOVE her? Doesn’t she just make you feel GREAT about yourself?
Being truly present is such a rare thing these days, largely due to the added pressure of social media. If we’re not looking at a throwback picture someone posted on Instagram, we’re checking up on something on Facebook, Twitter or our emails. Our extreme online presence makes us available to everyone twenty-four-seven and being “in the moment” becomes something that we almost need to consciously practice doing. So let’s consciously practice being in the moment when we’re listening to other women speak; let’s put our phones on silent, let’s ask questions, let’s give feedback, let’s be that woman who makes other women feel like she’s being heard. Not only will this make her feel important and interesting, it will also allow you to discover and see new things about her that you wouldn’t have noticed with your focus shifting between her and your smartphone, or your mind drifting away to an email you should have responded to.
Shift The Focus From Comparing Yourself To Other Women Over To What Makes You Happy And Confident
Rather than obsessing over your flaws and weaknesses, or other women’s success, start focusing on who you actually are, or want to become. Think about the things that you like about yourself, or the things that other women complement you on, and keep them in mind when your mind drifts off to a self-destructive place. If you’re not happy with your life the way it is, do something about it; don’t waste time being jealous of your friends, celebrities or anyone who have already taken responsibility for their own happiness and done something great. I know it can be hard, but believe me, you are the only one with the power to change the way you’re thinking. In the comparison game, we are our own worst enemies and it NEVER ends in us feeling good about ourselves. What do you love about yourself? What would you like to love about yourself? And more importantly; what are the steps that you need to take in order to get there? Do you need to unfollow some Instagram accounts? Do you need to start a new hobby? Do you need to eliminate some people who are bringing negative energy into your life? Do you need to make a career change? Do you need to just be a bit kinder to yourself?
We DESPERATELY need to stop seeing the success of other women as a measure of our own failure, and start considering it a success for all women, which is essentially what it is. We’re a team, and we need to start acting like one. Jealousy is not an attractive look, but empathy, genuine admiration, confidence and #girlboss integrity is sexy as fuck.
[Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments section]