The skill that I have paid the most attention to in my role as a trainer, life coach, and self-aware adult is that of perspective. I understand that there are always two sides (or sometimes more) to a story and usually the reality is somewhere in the middle. Conversely I also know that the grass is really never as green as it seems from the “other side.” Changing your perspective is the single best way to successfully change that which you are unhappy with, whether it be your body, a relationship, a job, or just how your emotions respond to stressful situations.
In the sequel to Alice in Wonderland (Through The Looking Glass) everything she knew about life, and even about Wonderland, was upside-down or backwards. But by embracing that different perspective (instead of fighting it), Alice was able to overcome obstacles and get back home with a new and better understanding (i.e., perspective) of her life.
Have you ever noticed that something that causes you great emotional stress doesn’t affect others the same way? Is that because they’re better than you? No, it’s because they simply have a different perspective. Same goes if you handle some stresses easily while your friends rage about. You’re not better, you just have a perspective in this area that differs than theirs and causes less strife.
If you are unhappy with the condition of your body (or any of the other life-issues I mentioned above) and no matter what you’ve tried (working out or dieting), nothing has successfully budged that excess fat, then perhaps it is time you changed your perspective. As an example, in some other countries, women with higher body fat are deemed beautiful and/or a symbol of a successful or wealthy family. These women have a different perspective about their bodies than we do in the U.S., that’s all there is to it.
So how do you change your perspective? One of the best ways is to de-personalize your view of the situation. In other words, take yourself out of the equation and look at it as if you were counseling a friend who was in your place. This allows you to see all aspects of the situation, not just what your emotional state focuses on.
An easy way to do this is to write yourself a letter, assuming the role of a friend. Pretend that the YOU are writing to is a friend who is in need of support and encouragement, but most importantly – CLARITY. Diagnose the situation via the facts, and look at how other situations in this “friend’s” life could contribute to how they’re handling the current situation. You’ll be surprised at how much clarity you find when looking at a problem that isn’t YOUR problem. After all, most of us (especially women) love to offer advice to our friends to solve their issues, yet fail to follow that same advice when it comes to ourselves.
Try this trick the next time you are frustrated or angry that something in your life just isn’t working to your liking. Take a deep breath and help your “friend” feel better and clearer about the situation. In the end, by seeing through the looking glass, I suspect you’ll find that your life is not as bad, or as stuck, as you thought.
Over two years ago I posted Stop Competing, Start Caring which focused on the rampant issue of women putting each other down through mean-spirited acts of unspoken competition. From the gym to work environments I see women continuing to combat jealousy via negativity and attempts to feel superior. Sadly, I suspect if my gender was more supportive of each other on the whole, if we’d have a woman as president today instead of the misogynist we’re stuck with. But I digress…
I recently joined a new gym, the kind of gym where everyone is very fit and focused on hard core workouts. This is no meat-market pick up joint, or Planet Fitness where you cannot grunt or show too much skin. Despite being a fitness professional I found clientele on the workout floor a bit intimidating, so I decided the best counter-action was to smile sincerely at everyone, especially the women. Not surprisingly, but too my renewed dismay, only one out of every ten women smiled back. Even with deliberate eye contact and my broad and welcoming smile, they looked away with down-turned mouths. I even attempted to strike up a conversation with one woman in-between sets and she answered me quite curtly and sauntered off.
So here is the post again, with slight updates, in my hopes to remind all women that we do not need to compete or be jealous of each other. The grass is NEVER greener on the other side, and only if we work together can we continue the improvements to our role in society that the Suffragettes’s started and the 60’s feminist movement continued.
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Since I was a young girl I’ve been aware of the serious nature of girls competing against each other for just about everything from friends to grades to boys. It gets worse and uglier as we grow into women. I see it at the gym, the mall, restaurants – women sizing up the competition. You can see it in their expressions, a defensive once-over seeking some flaw or registering uncalled-for disapproval.
I’ve mentioned this before, living in Las Vegas I regularly see parades of girls, each more scantily clad than the next, perched in ridiculously high heels, all glaring at the gaggle next to theirs to see if there is anyone they can put down to make themselves feel better. Belittle the competition and they’re no longer a threat, right? Yet despite girls’ intentions, the message men take away from this contest of looks is that we’re offering your bodies and not our brains, and thus they don’t really care which girl they get.
The question is why are we so quick to condemn or ridicule? The answer is competition. We compete to be prettier, smarter, slimmer, or funnier. But the true concern really comes down our fear that someone is “better than me.” Girls are constantly worried that another girl will get more attention, steal a mate, or even get a better mate. We regularly match our own worth against the next girl – which only serves to chronically undermine one’s self-esteem – and we usually know nothing about this other girl’s character and/or life other than her “cover” which we judge.
It’s sad that we are driven to such levels of insecurity that we view our fellow “sisters” as potential threats to our happiness. I suspect this is also a part of the reason that women are still undervalued and underpaid in the workforce. It’s bad enough that we have to compete with men for jobs, but when women consistently treat each other with distrust and resentment in a work environment, it’s easy for employers to offer us less money knowing that we’ll accept it just to get ahead of the next woman.
I know in my youth I did my share of mocking another or feeling envious of another girl’s achievements or looks, but I’ve worked hard in this second half of my adult life to remind myself that the grass is rarely greener on the other side, and that we all have strengths and weaknesses, gifts and limitations, and the only person I should compete with is myself – to constantly grow and improve.
So I suggest that all women take stock of their attributes and stop beating yourselves up about your detriments. If there’s a negative aspect of yourself that you can actually change, DO IT and move on. Otherwise, be proud of who you are what you’ve achieved and never stop trying to be more. Consider the woman next to you your equal and always be there for each other.
If we can teach our daughters through this example, we just might have a generation of women that work together to boost each other up, improve the world at large, and show men that we are not only equal, but in some areas might even be superior? Just food for thought.
My mother, Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a Ph.D. and noted authority on Middle East Studies, World Religions, and Womens’ Affairs. She is a published author and journalist. This week, her article really struck a chord in me that women throughout the world can allow their own self-worth to be of such little value that they would make the choices cited in Laina’s article. As a proponent of women’s health and fitness (which as you know if you follow my work, includes self-esteem and non-martyring) I felt the need to post her article here for all my followers to read, in hopes that maybe one woman would WAKE UP and start making more intelligent choices!
Why Some Women Love Violence. (Published in the Pajaronian Register, November 23, 2013)
By: Laina Farhat-Holzman
There is an old joke (a John Wayne movie?) that tells of why women put up with violent husbands. “How else can I know he loves me?”
In the developed world, wife beating is no longer considered a sign of love; it is bullying, intimidating, and criminal, which means the batterer can go to prison. But in the modern world, where violence against women is no longer tolerated, it is a mystery why some modern women choose to convert to Islam where wife beating is common. Some not only convert, but also become violent jihadis themselves.
Women comprise 75% of the 5,000 converts to Islam in England, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Most of these converts do so after falling in love with a Muslim man. For most of them, their only association with violence is from their husbands or in-laws, but for some, the excitement and mindlessness of true belief leads to jihadi violence. Female jihadis, hidden in their hijab cloaks, can be very dangerous indeed. Two such carried out suicide bombings in Russia in October and there have been others before them.
Not only love, but mental laziness can contribute to a young woman rejecting the uncertainties and choices availed to modern women. It is much easier to select a life style in which one is not required to think, but only to obey hard and clear rules. Some say that they love wearing hijab so that they are not just sex objects; of course, the very notion of such cover is to prevent other men from seeing one’s own private sex object.
The list of violent female converts is growing. Most recently noted is Samantha Lewthwaite, an Irish girl widowed of another terrorist convert; she is implicated in the recent Nairobi attack on a shopping mall. She was seen commanding gunners murdering shoppers at the mall. The first American to die fighting with the Syrian rebels this year was Michigan-born Lynn Mansfield. In 2005, Belgian convert Muriel Degauque blew herself up outside of Baghdad.
For “insulting Islam,” Colleen La Rose (Jihad Jane) and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez attempted to murder Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks for his “insulting” drawings of the Prophet Mohammad. Canadian Amanda Korody and her partner John Stewart Nuttail (converts) tried to make an explosive device in a failed attack on the British Columbian legislature last July. (See Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, October 17, 2013.)
Modern Muslim families range all the way from secular and no different from mainstream families in the West, to traditional and violent. The rash of honor killings show how violent such family life can be, including violence by mothers. Wife abuse, on the other hand, is so common that nobody thinks much about it in immigrant communities. This is just the way it is. But what about those who have no say in their choice of husband?
Recently in Yemen, a very little girl was handed over in marriage to a grown man and her wedding night rape caused her to bleed to death. Although this story is being disputed by local officials, whether true or not, 10 million young girls this year alone will be married to grown men (UNICEF). Traumatic genital injuries and fistulas are common in pre-puberty sex, according to the Hamlin Fistula clinics in Africa. Justification for such outrageous marriages come directly from the model of the Prophet Mohammad, who was married to a six-year-old girl and waited patiently until she was nine to consummate. This is not a good model.
In Muslim countries such as Yemen, clerics declare that opposition to child marriage makes one an apostate from Islam. The same declaration has come from Nigerian Muslims. When Australian Muslim immigrants declare that Islamic child marriages must be “respected” and forced marriage and spousal abuse understood as cultural, some naïve multiculturalists agree that culture must trump.
The one good thing coming from all this horror is that even in the traditional world, things that were once taken for granted are now publicized, and the glare of publicity is embarrassing to Islamists. Women tempted to convert: let the buyer beware.
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of How Do You Know That? You may contact her www.globalthink.net