If you’ve been dreaming long enough, you’ve probably experienced women envy, you know, the reactions from women who resent you merely because you make them feel inadequate for not working on their dreams.
We all encountered “women envy” in high school–the female cliques that unwillingly defined our lives. Many of us spent a lot of time and energy either working to maintain our status, struggling to cover up the qualities that made us glaringly different from the normal definition of cute or popular while hoping for an invitation to the “cool kids’ table.”
Some of us felt the sting of being excluded or even publicly shunned by the women in the spotlight. When people find out I was the picked-on kid growing up, they always ask me to offer some advice to those going through similar circumstances today.
The best thing I can say is that one day it will end. One day you will leave high school and find a big world out there that doesn’t care where you rank, that doesn’t care what you wear, that doesn’t care which one of you wore the crown at homecoming–a world where what makes you different will actually be the feature that makes you great.
While we may physically leave our teen years behind us, and while female cliques are never as prevalent as in high school, they do exist in the world of supposed grown-ups. Many people still emotionally carry around the desire to fit in, to be a part of the “it” crowd. Many are always scanning the environment to see who is ahead–to see who is prettier–to see who has cooler stuff. Social media has only added to this problem.
Many women leave high school only to enter a world made up of female cliques. Fortunately, the world is a big enough place to dodge almost all of the all-female organizations plagued by a definition of personal value based on trophies, possessions, beauty, or how many people know who they are.
I do try not to stereotype groups of people. And there are always exceptions to everything. But whenever I hear about a conflict in the workplace, it is overwhelmingly a female-dominated environment. Workplaces can employ women who are brimming with drama and gossip–ruled by negative emotions, who live to split women into groups of those who belong and those who don’t.
High school 2.0.
I see women working against each other instead of working together. I think self-esteem is at the root of the envy issue. Women will think that another confident, strong, talented woman takes away from who they are. The presence of another woman can feel threatening and make them feel “less than.”
What does she have that I don’t have?
I struggle with jealousy. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not proud, and I’ve been confronting it for years. I sometimes feel threatened by women who have made it big time in the public speaking circuit when I haven’t. (And isn’t it odd that I don’t feel jealous of men, but only other women?). I feel envious when I see a woman with a hot body in a great bathing suit or a woman rocking a pair of Jimmy Choo Claudette Nude Shimmery Pumps I’d break a hip wearing to my car.
Sometimes I do throw an internal pity party believing she won the life I wanted. Yes, there are days when I throw up my hands and say, “Why not ME?”
I’ve been jealous when someone laughs at another funny speaker’s jokes. So if I have a problem with these envy emotions, even though I am a successful motivational speaker, then I imagine other women do too.
Here are some words of advice and encouragement to the women out there who feel the pang of women envy, whether you are willing to admit it or not. The rest of you who are sincerely happy for others all the time, I wholeheartedly applaud you. The world certainly needs more of you.
10 Ways To Kill Your Women Envy
1. Recognize that you are jealous.
Sometimes we don’t even know that the root of our emotion is jealousy. Sometimes it manifests itself as criticism. We hold a spotlight on other women’s actions and criticize them as if finding their faults will somehow make us better. Maybe mother was right when she said, “Oh, don’t let her bother you. She’s just jealous.” If you find yourself wondering “why not me?” then you are experiencing jealousy.
⇒ Learn to catch yourself when you feel anger or criticism toward a woman. Learn to stop and hit the pause button and ask yourself what’s going on? Why am I feeling this way? What’s behind this? Any negative emotion towards someone else is a trigger to stop and evaluate your emotions.
2. Honor the emotion.
The first step to overcoming a problem is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Don’t try to deny your jealousy. And don’t beat yourself up for feeling it. You are having a normal emotion based on many factors and life experiences. We aren’t perfect, as much as we think we should be. You have had years of being conditioned by the world. Change takes time.
⇒ Stop saying “I’m not jealous” and start saying, “You know what? I think I’m jealous of her. I see what’s going on here, and it’s perfectly normal. Now let’s see if we can work this out.” Note that working through the emotion of jealousy requires a lot of talking to yourself.
3. Know that being jealous hurts YOU.
Feelings of anger and bitterness and resentment towards someone else are emotions that hurt YOU mentally and physically. And it’s just no fun walking through life in a funk. Do you want to continue to feel angry and resentful, or do you want to spend your days enjoying more of life, dreaming big dreams, and cultivating more happiness? The choice IS yours.
⇒ When you feel resentment and envy building inside of you, stop and say to yourself, “This is not good for me. I don’t want this in my life. I want to laugh and to smile and to be at peace. This emotion is not serving me.” Repeat it until you mean it.
4. Force yourself to be happy for that person.
I remember a time when I interviewed well, and I didn’t get a job. The position went to a woman with more experience, compared to my non-experience. She was more qualified, and she’d spent years working toward her goal. I fell into the opportunity. I hadn’t considered the career as a life-path, much less worked to get the skills needed to perform the job, yet, I felt jealous of her until a friend said,
“Kelly, this is her day, not yours.”
What a gift. Her words were so freeing. There was an almost instant release of bitterness by merely acknowledging that today was her day. I’m not sure why it worked. Maybe because by recognizing that today is her day, I was also accepting that one day it would be my day.
⇒ When you’re up against another woman for an opportunity, and she gets it, smile and say, “Today was her day. One day it will be mine. But for today, it’s hers.” And mean it.
5. Combat jealousy for her with a positive feeling about yourself.
I think when I’m feeling jealous of another woman, it’s because deep down I’m feeling poorly about myself. Her success points out what a loser I feel I am in the moment. The fact that she “made it” shows me that I haven’t. Sound familiar? While this is a normal emotion, it is not true. And it’s a sign that you need a boost to your self-esteem.
We need to let go of the feeling that if we don’t do success exactly like her, then we aren’t doing it right.
⇒ Whenever you recognize feelings of jealousy in yourself towards another woman, get out a piece of paper and start a list of what you have accomplished. No feat is too small; no achievement is meaningless. It’s not what the world defines as important, but what YOU define as important. For some of us, just getting out of bed that day is a considerable feat.
⇒ Honor it. Did you make it to lunch without killing your kids? Honor it. Forty-five years of marriage? Honor it. Now hang this list up where you can see it all day. Read it before you go to bed. And eventually, you will come to see yourself for what you are, not for what you aren’t.
6. Stop thinking that successful women are a threat to your success!
This world is big enough for all of us to be wildly successful. Believe it or not, you can reach your dreams. You achieving your dream won’t keep me from reaching mine. Sure, maybe that one job could only go to one person. And only one woman is going to land that guy. Perhaps that one tiny little opportunity was taken. But the world holds an infinite number of possibilities. Find another one. There’s one waiting with YOUR name on it. I promise.
⇒ Repeat after me: “The world is gifting me with an abundance of opportunities. There will be more opportunities than I can ever accept. There is enough for all of us.” Just because she got the promotion/the job/the guy/the car/the house/the bling–does not mean you never will.
7. Helping others helps you.
People more successful than me, have stated that one of the top reasons for their happiness and their ability to reach their dreams, has been their willingness to help others. The fastest way to get your mind off your problem is to help someone else with theirs. And I think that the universe has a way of helping those who help others. It somehow comes back to you, and even when it doesn’t, you don’t care because you stopped focusing on yourself. All too often, we reside in a state of “take all for me” mentality.
While I’m a huge fan of asking for what you want, seeking help, and receiving gifts sent your way, I think that sometimes we become blinded by our panic and by our desperation, or by our inability to see what we have to offer. And for all of us to rise together as women, we need to reach out and help each other as often as we can.
⇒ Whenever you walk into work, a networking situation, a conference, or even a girls night, walk in saying to yourself, “Who needs my help today? How can I serve others? Please show me who needs my comfort and encouragement today. Help me focus and listen and respond. Stop me from thinking about myself, talking about myself, or getting what I want. Today it’s not about me.”
⇒ Helping others helps you. And even if it doesn’t, do it anyway.
8. Be careful of smoke and mirrors.
There was this one speaker, years ago, that I was jealous of once. I didn’t know her personally and didn’t even really know much about her. I just knew what she had; I wanted. The bitterness ate away at me until I felt like a crumb. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I decided to face this emotion and kill that green-eyed monster once and for all.
I took a good hard look at what she had done to get in the spotlight.
I analyzed what made her great, and what she did every day to stay in the limelight. I looked at her credentials, her skills, her achievements, and her gifts. I looked at what I would have to do to get the same opportunity. I came to the shocking conclusion that I didn’t want her life after all. I wasn’t willing to do the work she does to be such a success. When I put myself through her kind of day, I hated it. I had been envious of a woman for obtaining something that I most definitely did not want for myself. How weird is that?
⇒ What you see is not always what is. When are feeling jealous of a successful woman, stop and recognize that you are only seeing her in that one moment – and even that moment may not feel like you think it does. You may be blinded by the glamour so that you don’t see what she had to give up to get there. You may believe the payoff is more significant than it is. For all you know, you have it better.
9. Never forget that women are looking at you desperately wishing for what you have.
I remember a time in my life when I was overcome with resentment and disappointment, and I met a woman from another country. This woman confessed to me how it pained her to come to America and listen to women complain about trivial things while she lives in a place where women aren’t allowed to sing, or ride a bike through the streets, or show their face in public. I was instantly overcome with shame. I had let my selfishness outshine the many freedoms, gifts and blessings staring me in the face every single day.
⇒ Every time you are feeling less-than, or unworthy, or disappointed in yourself, remember what you have, and how far you’ve come. Every time you look enviously at a woman in the spotlight, know there probably are women looking at you in your spotlight feeling the same kind of envy toward you.
10. Don’t be jealous over what you were never willing to work for, ask for, or claim for yourself.
Oh, how quick I am to judge, criticize, and feel envy, and how slow I am to shine the light upon myself and ask the hard questions. More times than I care to admit, I am envious of women who work their way to the top of their field while I’ve done nothing but whine about not being there myself. Many times the women are at the top because they are confident enough in themselves to ask for it, and I was not.
While waiting for someone to hand me my golden ticket, waiting for someone to notice me and give me my big break, these women are creating it for themselves. How often I think I deserve the same pay off as someone who, in reality, works much harder.
⇒ When jealousy creeps up, turn the mirror on yourself and ask: How hard have I worked at my dream? Really? Am I upset because I didn’t get something I never asked for myself? How is my confidence? Do I know what makes me great? Am I willing to tell the world?
⇒ Sometimes we don’t make our dream come true simply because we never ask for it.
I hope that you see yourself for who you are, instead of who you are not. I hope my dream pep talk here encourages you to go out and achieve your biggest dream and help other women achieve theirs along the way.
I would like to see women grow closer together as co-creators instead of pushed further apart by petty jealousies. United we are strong. So let us reach for our big dreams together.
Love your dream sisters, OK?
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker, published author and TV personality who is passionate about helping women harness the power of their stories to connect, influence, and get the results they dream of accomplishing. Laughing the whole way, Kelly teaches women how to master the art of connection through the power of strategic storytelling. You can find her on The Fashion Hero show airing Fall of 2017 on Amazon Prime or on her website MotivationalSpeakerKellySwanson.com.
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