Women who tear other women down. Why do they do it?
This is the question that’s been on my mind lately. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait for the day when the petty bickering, one upping and ganging up on each other would stop. I always expected women would grow up and out of this ritual. Apparently not. It drove me crazy then and it drives me crazy now. Unfortunately no matter what age you are, there are still mean girls.
Women have long fought for equality which has forced us to turn on each other to feel like we’re getting a step ahead of the next person. But how far ahead are we really getting in life by ditching friends, putting each other down and making ourselves look like jerks in front of others?
Undoubtedly women are under extreme pressure to prove themselves. Prove their worth in the workplace, that they’re deserving of a salary or promotion, show they’re just as good, if not better, than their male counterparts, be the perfect mothers & wives all while maintaining their health, fitness and good looks. That’s a lot of pressure. This is in no way a feminist call to action, but simply to highlight where meanness stems from. If we understand where it comes from, then maybe we can understand how to stop it.
How do women prove themselves? By tearing other women down. If you make someone else feel bad, then you’ll feel better, right? The problem with that is it spawns an unhealthy behavior cycle. It’s like a heroin addiction. You have to do it more and more to get the same “high” otherwise you’ll never feel “good enough.” You become stressed chasing the need over and over again and later depressed from the hurt you cause (unless you’re heartless). Nothing about this behavior is positive or good for the mind, body or soul.
Many women are insecure and lack confidence. Whether it’s their mind, body, job, family, money or just where they are in life; women feel insecure in one way or another. Those insecurities lead to the comparison trap which all of us are guilty of. Women are constantly comparing themselves to other women. “Why can’t I have her legs?” “She’s skinnier than me.” “I want her fashion sense.” “I wish I was as fit as her.” “If only I was as successful as she was.” “She has the perfect life. She has it all” The insecurities directly translate into you being a target for bullying because you’re seen as a threat. Nothing you do or say can change the insecurities of another woman.
The oxymoron in this is that women would be much stronger bonding together and building each other up, unifying like men do. When was the last time you saw men getting snippy at each other? Men aren’t mean to each other, don’t pick on one another, don’t create drama. Unlike women, men build each other up and support one another. They have each other’s back. Go to any gym and you’ll see this in action.
Us women need to break the cycle. We must stop seeing each other as rivals. The world is big enough for us to be our individual selves and live in it peacefully. We need to bond in sisterhood circles not cliques, but safe places where women are free to be real. Most importantly we must make conscious choices to replace mean words with nice, kind, compassionate, and empathetic ones. Too often this is viewed as being weak. It’s not. It shows we’re strong and confident. To do these things means in our choices and practices we need to stop tearing each other down and start building each other up and we can do that in 3 ways.
Respect each others beliefs, backgrounds, boundaries and differences. Everyone comes from a different place in life. Grew up with different morals and beliefs. Respect those differences and recognize everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. The key is figuring out how to leverage those differences so it’s a win-win for both parties. One person’s strengths may be your weakness. It’s a lost opportunity for your personal growth when you when you don’t leverage those differences.
Be the positive force that uplifts women as opposed to tearing them down. Instead of trying to find the negative in the person, find the good. We all have a tendency to jump to the bad. Not everyone has bad intentions or is out to get you. Understand where the other person is coming from before jumping to conclusions. Gossiping and spreading rumors about someone gives a false sense of control and it’s only temporary. Ask yourself what am I gaining by tearing down this person and how would I feel if someone where doing this to me?
Be careful about how quickly you pass judgment on one another. Take a step back and ask yourself is this person going through personal challenges. Maybe they’re not themselves for some reason. Maybe they need your positive energy to get out of their funk and sadness. Think about how good you’d feel if you were that positive force that did that for them.
Stop looking for flaws and defects in the successes and accomplishments of other women. There seems to always be someone who can add a “but” when she hears another woman is doing well. It’s a subtle put down that women do all the time. Or they chose to ignore the other woman’s achievement. Silence is another form of put down. Give praise when it’s due and make it an intentional gesture. It won’t take anything away from you, it won’t make you less-than, in fact it will set you more. It will set you on a higher path to creating positive relationships with other women.
I encourage you… stop the cycle of tearing each other down instead support one another in a healthy and positive way. One small change or act of kindness can make all the difference. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be the uplifting role model for future generations.