Divine Feminine Fallacy Part I – I Hate Successful Women

You know those memes that nimbly point fingers at some ubiquitous yet unnamed hater? Like:

Meme: haters are my motivators

And:

I'm not jealous, I just don't like that dirty whore

I am that Hater.  I don’t want to utilize this blog as a sphere of severe self-flagellation. (That’s what Facebook posts are for right?) But, as part of addressing the Divine Feminine Fallacies of my own life, I need to get real.

For many years, I thought my bouts of frequent comparison and envy were gender-less.

But, then I started to notice something when that familiar closed-chest feeling hit as I heard about someone’s creative career success or picked up a magazine with a gorgeous woman on the cover.

I was hardly ever jealous of men, no matter how many “30 Under 30” lists they appeared under.

What was it about other women that made my innards curl into coils of envy when I saw their successes?

In real life, I cheer my women friends and love seeing women leaders.  I played basketball (and loved the teamwork aspect) for over ten years.  I’ve mentored young girls and believe all those memes about helping one’s sister.

haters3

Sadly, my unconscious was like, nah bitch…You Are Indeed a HATER.

It was tough:  I felt (and still often feel) incredible shame about these feelings. I want to be a “good feminist”. I am inspired by so many women. I love all things women’s empowerment.

The thing about self-love and acceptance is that you don’t get to live in la-la land if you’re practicing it right. You have to face some hard shit, like how you have internalized the patriarchy. You have to face the not-so-pretty aspects of who you are, the ones that don’t line up with what we profess on the outside.

After lots of meditation, serial-killer like scrawling in numerous journals, and a general openness to what my body has been trying to communicate to me for years, I discovered that I am a Hater of epic proportions.

So appropriate for moi
So appropriate for moi

I could have stopped there, decided I was a terrible person and a farce of a feminist, but I pressed deeper until I saw the story-lines and beliefs that were driving the feelings and thoughts.

I learned that believed in Scarcity in every definition of the word:

That there isn’t room or enough for me “out there”. That I don’t I have what it takes to be successful (not disciplined enough, not photogenic enough, not good enough mixture of witty-intelligent, that I didn’t grow up in the “correct place”...)

I believed that women are my competitors and that I needed to outshine them at all times.

THIS is what I believe in that deep, deep murky grey level of unconscious thought. This is what drives me to Instagram comparison and stalling in certain areas of my life when it comes to building my dreams.

Thankfully, jealousy is also a clue.

A couple months ago, I decided I was going to stop running from this feeling and letting it define who I am. As soon as I decided to do this, all kinds of synchronous happenings entered my life on the nature of female comparison/envy and how jealousy is not the end.

Competition and a belief in lack are some of the greatest bargaining chips the patriarchy has.

I remember hearing from the age of about ten onward that women are just naturally jealous. I heard my own teammates bemoan how women were just catty and that they “wished they could play basketball with the dudes, ‘cuz there was never any drama.” (LOLZ to those of us who remember the Kobe-Shaq Lakers days…)

The values of the patriarchy which so often blend into the tenets that uphold Western civilization espouse constant competition and the Marlboro Man mentality–the lone hero divorced from community and better for it.

Our media never ceases to tell women they are not enough in beauty, brains, or talent. That there are the “stars” and then there are the rest of us: ugly in our ordinariness and imperfections. Our society tell women that there is only so many accolades to go around.

And as much as feminism and my own critical thinking skills helped me resist these ideas to some degree, I had to admit to myself just how much I had internalized them.

Self-love means accepting that I am not the only person with this issue, especially in such a social media saturated world. Hopefully by shining a light on my own struggles, I can more honestly assist other people who feel this same type of cognitive dissonance.

When I feel the anxious stirring of jealousy or comparison today, I don’t wish or will it away.

Here is what I do instead:

  1. Admit When I Am Being a Hater:

I pause. I put my phone down or close out of the article. I listen to my body, the tightness of my chest or upper shoulders. I breathe into it this feeling and allow it to be as big as it wants to.

2. Dig Deep as to Why I Am Hating:

I ask myself some questions. What exactly am I jealous of? What is the Story I am creating? (i.e. I never earned an MBA, therefore I can’t start my own business, Good writers are recognized by age 30, etc.) Why do I think possessing said trait or thing will make me happy? Why don’t I think I can?

As I said before, Jealousy is a HUGE clue for what we actually want. It’s honestly nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how trivial the desire may seem. Perhaps we want to write more or travel to tropical islands or speak our political views without caring what our friends think. By engaging and being honest about where and who we are jealous of, we can start to build the life we want for ourselves. Usually, it is not that we want to be another person, we just want to feel such good things are possible for us too.

3.Tell the person!

Yikers. This one takes ovaries but once you do it, it bizarrely feels good. Sometimes, if the person is someone I know, I just admit it to them. I don’t blame them and I am not expecting or needing them to babysit my emotions. Being vocally honest allows my hater-ade to dissipate. I am able to feel more and move beyond the super grips of envy. Plus, the other person gets to see just how awesome they are.

You don’t need to drag it on forever and turn it into a self-pity session. (Please don’t do that.) Just a simple, “I’m mad jealous you got to meet President Obama,” will do. Many times, you may even find out they are jealous of you for some reason!

We humans are very funny.

4. Remember the Patriarchy Sucks:

It exists to divide and to stifle. It sells a story of Not-Enough and perpetuates a deep feeling of lack. It divorces us from people who can help us. Jealousy is almost always about feeling we are not enough on some level.

There was no way I was going to be able to fully embrace divine feminine principles without examining and discarding these vestiges of the patriarchy. I wanted a deeper integration of feminist values in my life and desired to support women in all their ways of being—not just when it was convenient for my ego.

Addressing my jealousy is steadily helping me to be a whole-hearted person, integrated and truly alive.

5. Take the simplest action:

Delete the app. Practice four square breathing. Take a walk. Actually write down the whys and who’s of your envy. Take the smallest step toward building your own version of success: look up those ticket prices, go to the Zumba class, write down 10 accomplishments you’re been proud of, dress to the nines for work the next day.

Above all else, love who you are in this moment. You are doing the best you can.

Don't know who "Jakee" is, but you are loved!
Don’t know who “Jakee” is, but you are loved!

Jealousy did and does not make me defective. It is not my whole story. I wish I knew this sooner, but I know it now!

If you struggle with jealousy or comparison, it’s not your entire story unless you want it to be.

Let’s get to that revision, shall we?

Onward,

Hannah

On Comparison

Photo print by Emily Macdowell (sold on-line)
Photo print by Emily Macdowell (sold on-line)

I’ve heard it called the thief of joy. But, honestly, I think it is an annihilator as mean and cunning as a trained mercenary.

Yes, I am talking about comparison (yes, I am being a wee hyperbolic, but sue me, I’m a writer…)

In this modern world, if you are lucky enough to have access to the channels of social media, then you have probably come across the sinking feeling in your gut, the constant search for more awards to win and pull ups to do, the pouring in of self-doubt and negation.

Even if you have the inner warrior spirit of Attila the Hun.

It doesn’t matter how much I know that 95% of the shit isn’t real; that pictures and lives are photo-shopped, retouched, carefully selected for viewership with the preciseness of an art gallery curator.

I still have to take social media internet breaks.

I went to a mindfulness retreat a couple of months ago and during the teacher Q&A brought up the nature of comparison.

I felt slightly sheepish and ridiculous for my question, but my constant comparison to others was miserable and I was getting to the point where I was annoyed with this problem.

The teacher was  soft-eyed but also imbued with  utmost clarity. She smiled and said that there are some Buddhists who believe that before reaching Enlightenment, the nature of comparison is one of the last vices to go. She said I wasn’t alone by a long shot. She emanated compassion and also gave me some sturdy guidance.

Comparison is acutely human. We are social creatures after all. Most of us need to locate our “place” in the nature of things.

The kind of comparison I am talking about is not so useful. It causes creative freezing, depression, incessant wanting, rampant greed, and the inability to be truly joyful on behalf of someone else.

We all have those places where we are crazy sensitive to comparison. For some of us this may be looks and presentation. For others it’s having a family or an apartment fit for decorating the front pages of Domino magazine. Some of us only feel that overwhelming sense of shame when we line ourselves up within our family of origin. Some of us are mired in  “first world” shame that keeps us reaching out to solve other people’s issues while blithely ignoring our own suffering. Others are suffering worse than I, so why pay attention to my pain?

I’m a grab bag collection myself. My comparison points have shifted throughout the years. Sometimes I look back on the way I compared my height to other girls and I laugh. Or I remember how genuinely sad I was because I never owned anything Lisa Frank and I can’t help but smile. Oh, baby Hannah….

But some of my comparison points are stubborn little mothers. Flat and toned stomachs get me still. As do women who win Big Creative Awards at young ages and people who never seem to have bad shoes. (How do they do it?)

Comparison…

It’s such a waste of fucking time. An utter waste. As I gain more clarity, I truly see the truth in Tara Mohr’s words. These are the kinds of words I would’ve made fun of or blatantly ignored years before:

By Tara Mohr
By Tara Mohr

Here are my quick abridged tips with dealing with Comparison:

1. Take social media/internet breaks: Yes, you’ll miss out on some “inspiration” but just how inspiring is scrolling through Instagram and Facebook until your eyes get tired? How about locating the inspiration in your actual, lived life?

2. Be kind to your own suffering: My father who emigrated from Nigeria over thirty years ago is no stranger to struggle. But I’ll never forget the time he told me that everyone’s suffering matters. Yes, there will be times when I find it hard to find compassion for some complaints and gripes, especially since I know of the massive torment some people are going through on this Earth. But, until I take my own suffering seriously, I cannot really see other’s. I’m not being helpful starring as a martyr or belittling my own pain. This is one of the points I struggle with the most. But, one that has enlivened be sooo much when I stick with it.

3. List the good shit in life: Keep a gratitude journal. Think of your lucky breaks. (Hint: If you are reading this from an electronic device, even one you don’t own, you are lucky.) Record compliments. Do one of those self-helpy things you usually roll your eyes at. Write down how awesome you are.

4. Take action: One of the things I keep hearing in life regarding comparison swamps is to do something. I heard it from Jess Grippo. I read it in The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self Assurance by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. When we take action, we give ourselves a chance.

And finally:

5. Accept it: Comparison happens. Banishing it from our lives completely is probably not possible or even laudable. Sometimes a little bit can be helpful for our goals and wishes for life.

A lot of comparison energy is usually maddening. And utterly useless. And a lot of additional negative synonyms for bad.

Yeah…no thanks.

I refuse to let comparison color my life in the broad strokes it used to. Sometimes I will excel, sometimes I’ll lose or be just average. But, I never want to be anyone else but me.

How do you deal with comparison swamps?

Onward,

Hannah