Negative Competition Among Women: Why it Happens & How to Combat It

 by Rae Ann Estolano  illustrations by Laura Callaghan

by Rae Ann Estolano

illustrations by Laura Callaghan

Being competitive is a part of human nature, whether the drive is intentional or not. Researchers believe that our patriarchal society plays a huge role in competitiveness amongst women, creating an environment in which we are expected to live up to impossible standards. The struggle to become this “idealized” version of a woman can create a lot of pressure, often times resulting in a never-ending flow of unhealthy and hostile competition. When it comes to competition between our sisters, let’s be honest, we can be catty as f**k.

Instead of giving in to negative feelings and the desire for unhealthy competition, we should consider where these ill-will feelings come from and attempt to identify the potential consequences that may result from them. A brief moment of reflection could help us distinguish a healthy form of competition from a negative one.

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Here’s our take: Hostile competition often stems from the desire for another person to fail. When people mask their feelings of insecurity, fear, and aggression, it can intensify their desire to compete. Animosity is almost never channeled in a healthy or positive way, and when we repress our insecurities, it can lead to hostility towards others. In truth, any negative response we have towards the successes or achievements of another woman is typically only a projection of negative feelings we may have towards ourselves. In her New York Times article titled “Why Women Compete With Each Other”, author Emily V. Gordon explains that female competitiveness is like “a fun-house mirror that reflects an inaccurate version of who we are, but we turn on her anyway, because it’s easier.”

When we fall into the habit of feeling resentful towards women who achieves success, we make the mistake of not seeing people for who they truly are. The lady in question may be a #GirlBoss, a badass, a potential friend or future colleague, yet often times tearing her down still seems easier than celebrating her victories. Author, inspirational speaker, and life coach Iyanla Vanzant describes social comparison as an “act of violence against oneself”, meaning no personal good will come from jealousy.

Moral of the story: Do not compare or compete with others or their journey! Stay focused on competing with yourself, outdoing your past, and always becoming a better version of yourself.

 

HOW TO IDENTIFY NEGATIVE COMPETITION

  • Slut Shaming 
  • "Winner Takes All" Mentality 
  • Using jealousy as a strategy get your life in order 
  • Doing things to impress others instead of your self-betterment 
  • De-valuing other women to find value in yourself 
 

TIPS & PRACTICES FOR HEALTHY COMPETITION

Be Confident.

Being comfortable and confident in your own skin makes you less vulnerable to feeling threatened by other women’s success.

Stick to Your Own Journey.

We all face major challenges throughout life. Setting aside time to persevere, overcome and achieve your goals should leave no room to compare yourself to others. Focus and embrace your own journey!

Be Your Own Inspiration.

Your own personal success and happiness will not only inspire you,  but can help and motivate others.

Support Your Peers.

We must maintain a healthy balance of competition and compassion. As women, we not only need to embrace positive feelings of empowerment and strength, we also need to make the effort to uplift and support one another. Because let’s face it, we have enough SH*T to deal with as it is.

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