As my 5-year old niece sat at the table coloring, she bluntly stated, “Ashley is the prettiest girl in our class”. Apparently, Little Miss Ashley was the self-proclaimed “prettiest girl” in K-5 this year, citing that her long wavy hair set her head and shoulders above all the other 5-year-olds in pigtails. I thought to myself, oh hot fudge and sprinkles, it’s starting already.
Women. Ugh. We have this insane need to validate ourselves by devaluing others. I can’t fake it; I have been guilty of this behavior in the past. Let me back track and introduce you to my 20-something self. I’m not ashamed to admit that I suffered from low self-esteem for many years, and it has taken almost as many to learn to love myself from within instead of depending on the opinions of others. Once I became less dependent on outside validation, I found less need to compare myself to those women around me.
But that is not at all where I started. I was never very competitive. I remember looking at other ladies and making a mental note of all their flaws so that I could give myself an emotional high-five. Her teeth are crooked but mine are straight…one point for me. She has a better figure, but my skin is smoother….two points for me. It was extremely hard for me to give another woman a compliment because secretly I felt that it took something from me.
I remember being really jealous when my friends would compliment a woman across the room. I would ravel off a rather lengthy list of her imperfections in a disgusted tone. I had no idea back then that my misdirected laundry list just pointed back to my own low self-esteem. When I think of how damaged I was, I literally weep for that young lady who was so desperate to be good enough.
Thankfully, I was able to reprogram my negative behavior. Here’s how I got there:
1. I started by simply learning the power of a compliment. Not only does it validate the other party, but also, giving one will force you to see and focus on the good stuff.
2. The next thing I did was focus on being kinder to myself by finding and owning my own positive traits. I quit trying to ignore my flaws and began to work on them instead, and eventually I was even able to embrace them.
3. I stopped allowing people around me to be negative. Sometimes that makes your pretty unpopular, but it’s up to us to control the toxicity levels in our world.
Even if you knock someone down and stand on their back, it doesn’t make you any taller. Making those steps really changed my course. Don’t let your confidence be tied up in the need to be better than others rather than to be your best.