At heart, most humans are competitive creatures. While men most often get caught up in physical competitions- like sports – women tend to create emotional competitions that can compromise relationships, happiness and even their own self-worth.
Therapist Julie Hanks of Wasatch Family Therapy helps us put an end to the race.
Whether it’s physical appearance, parenting skills, possessions, talents, homes, weight, success, money, creativity, marital status, our children’s behavior…it seems that we women view other women’s success as a threat to our own worth.
In order to manage our own fears and insecurities, we try to prove that we are “good enough” by one-upping someone else. While this may lead to temporary feelings of validation, it never leads to long-term feelings of self-worth.
Why do women compete with one another? Here are a few common reasons that competitive feeling can settle in:
· We compete to cover up our insecurities and self-doubt.
· We compete to try and prove our worth, that we’re good enough and loveable.
· We compete because we’re afraid that there is a limited supply of love and success.
· We compete because we’ve grown up competitive culture where there is only one winner.
They key is to end the competition. Here’s four ways to do it:
1) Look inside instead of side-to-side for self-worth.
It is human nature to look to others to measure how well we are doing in a certain area, and then judge ourselves, and others, based on how we measure up. We then equate our performance as a measurement of our self-worth.
The areas where we are most competitive with other women are the areas where we feel most insecure about ourselves. Focusing on healing our own insecurities is more fruitful than looking at what others are accomplishing. Once you embrace who you are and your unique callings in life, you can focus on being the best you instead of being better than.
2) Quit comparing.
Whether you realize it or not, someone else’s accomplishments, appearance, children’s behavior, or the car they drive have absolutely nothing to do with you and your value as a person. Each woman has a unique path, unique talents, and unique challenges. If someone else’s child skipped a grade because of his amazing reading skills that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad mom. If a neighbor loses 20 lbs. in a few months that doesn’t mean that you have to. When we compare someone else’s successes with our own situation we make it about us, which limits our ability to celebrate with them.
I talked with a dear friend last week about an amazing professional opportunity that had come her way. As we talked and I congratulated her, I noticed a tinge of jealousy and felt my heart sink just a bit. I became aware that I was making her opportunity mean something about me. I’m glad I caught myself. I told her, “I’m so excited for you! I’ve got to admit I’m a little jealous – I’d love to be in your shoes right now. I am so thrilled for you. Way to go!” By acknowledging that I was comparing, I was able to stop it and fully celebrate her success.
3) Practice an abundance mindset.
Competition is based on the belief that there is not enough success to go around. It feeds an either/or mentality—there’s a winner and a loser, I’m good or your good. One way to overcome competition is by practicing an abundance mindset. There is enough success, love, and joy in the world for everyone.
People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to…rather than detracts from…our lives.”
~ Stephen R. Covey
4) Appreciate all things beautiful.
I recently read an inspiring article on Oprah.com called Life Isn’t a Beauty Contest: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Women written by O Magazine Beauty Editor Valerie Monroe. Now in her 50’s, she shares how she’s been able to stop comparing herself to other women by claiming her role as “Appreciator of All Things Beautiful.” Instead of succumbing to the critical voice in her head, she readily acknowledges the beauty in others by freely complimenting their beauty.
I have a friend Jennie who is a great example of being an appreciator of all good things. She is a stay-at-home-mother of four, an amazing friend and a talented writer. We have different personalities and temperaments – and we love each other for it. When I share one of my professional successes she celebrates wholeheartedly. Here is a text she sent to me after I shared some good news with her.
Here’s the goal, ladies: let’s replace competition and comparison with cooperation and collaboration!