Western culture tends to believe in a scarcity mentality—that we have to compete with others and that resources and opportunities are limited. There isn’t enough. This spills over into emotional and social areas as well. We like to think we’re the smartest, the strongest, or the best. We feel satisfied in winning the game or beating out someone for a job.
Culturally, we seem to attribute this competitive drive mainly to men. They’re ambitious in sports, in their careers, etc. But women tend to be emotionally competitive, and there’s no end to areas that we compete in: parenting, income, craftiness, how our home looks, and definitely in our appearance. We use competition as a way to cover up our insecurities, to try to prove our worth, and perhaps because we think that there’s a limited supply of success and joy in the world. Unfortunately, this attitude can compromise relationships, happiness, and even our feelings of self-worth.
Here are some ways to help you stop competing with other women:
One of the first things I’d suggest doing is looking inside, rather than side to side. By that I mean stop looking to other people as the source of your contentment or for proof that you’re worthy. Instead of trying to size up someone else, look at yourself and ask what your individual life mission is and how you are seeking to fulfill it. Also, try to stop looking to other people to validate you and work on validating yourself! Ask yourself what your personal life mission is and how you’re improving instead of looking around and trying to outdo others.
At the root of competition is comparison, and we as women need to put an end to this vicious cycle. Teddy Roosevelt famously said that comparison is the thief of joy—he’s so right! When we compare, we either come out on top or on bottom, but either way, it takes away the joy. Remember that someone else’s success has nothing to do with you. Harsh as that may sound, it puts things into perspective that you don’t have to feel less about yourself because of someone else’s accomplishments. When you feel sad or less than another woman, you’re so preoccupied with yourself that you can’t celebrate and be happy for her. So when those feelings of jealousy or envy creep up (and they do for all of us at times), actively fight them and tell yourself that you refuse to play this losing game called comparison.
Another good strategy to ditch the competition is to practice a mindset of abundance. By this I mean to let go of this notion that only some people are successful, only a select few score a great man or a fulfilling career, etc. There really is enough love and joy for us all! A scarcity mindset can evoke a panic because it means that if someone else wins, you lose. Fortunately, that’s not the case. In the game of life, there can be multiple winners. We can stop this exhausting rat race and understand that another woman’s good fortune can add to our happiness, not detract from it.
And lastly, I encourage you to appreciate all things beautiful, whether in yourself or in other people. For example, if you find a certain woman particularly beautiful, instead of feeling envious and insecure, acknowledge her beauty, perhaps even compliment her on it, and then find inspiration in it. Appreciating all things beautiful can go beyond physical beauty and extend to anything pleasant or admirable. Maybe you’ve met someone whose job, family, or life inspires you in some way. Once you’ve been on the receiving end of some celebration of your own beauty, you’ll want to share that thrill with others. It feels so good to foster support and encouragement for one another. Let’s work on that as women.
When competition is ingrained in our psyche, it can be hard to let go of it. Practice these skills to quit comparing and sizing up other women to find peace and joy in celebrating our successes together.