Judgement: why women do it and how we can change it!
A male friend of mine posted a comment on my Facebook update last night: it went like this… “If you reduce the problem of women undermining other women by 0.000001%, you will have achieved an epic victory.”
My first reaction was to get defensive and bark back some cutting remark about men and all their myriad faults and vices.
But my response ended up being…’That is what we’re aiming for’ – we want that epic victory.
I know I do and so many other women I have met through The Sista Code!
I don’t know about you, but I have absolutely been witness to and on the receiving end of female cattiness, office gossip and undermining behaviour from other women.
In my previous corporate life, I worked for a large private company in a team of about eight people. Generally, life was great working in that team and we got on well.
But there was one woman in the team who seemed to enjoy spreading gossip about other team members, pointing out everyone’s faults to management and ostracising team members, just like girls in the school yard. It seemed to be a different person’s turn each month.
This woman would love to play Agony Aunt to people in the team and cherished being seen as a mother figure to the younger team members: yet she was still covertly vicious.
When I reflect on her behaviour now and consider why she behaved as she did, I recall one thing: she actually wasn’t very good at her job. This lady had been moved into a position in the organisation that she wasn’t suited for and struggled to perform in her role…and she knew it.
So instead of admitting that she was having difficulties in her job role, she would deflect her own inadequacies by pointing out faults with people, starting rumours and gossiping about others in and out of the team and being covertly nasty.
Have you ever been in a position where you are in over your head? You don’t really know what you’re doing and you’re scared others will find out?
I can imagine this woman had all sorts of negative feelings and emotions going on: fear that she would be found out; fear she may be sacked; jealous that others were performing better than her in their own roles.
I’m not making excuses for her, but I’m sure that all contributed to her malicious, undermining behaviour.
Female cattiness is not limited to the workplace; it also lives in the ‘playground’.
Time and time again, I have heard women talk about other mother’s in the school yard or at the park; judging other mothers, their children and their parenting choices.
Again, why? Why do mothers judge other mothers harshly?
When I gave birth to my son, a close girlfriend said to me, “Being a mother is the most guilt ridden job in the world.”
You may disagree with me, but I have always thought she was right. I mean, I don’t think I know any mother who doesn’t second-guess herself and question whether she is making the right choices for her child.
Hell, I still question myself most days!
As mothers, we want to raise happy, healthy children. We want to make the right parenting decisions and choices for them. And when books and experts bandy around sentiments like ‘mothering comes naturally’ and ‘you should just instinctively know what to do’; when we are having a tough day and have no idea if we’re doing the right thing, we make that demoralising mistake of comparing ourselves and our children to others.
And then the fear sets in that we’re not doing the right thing, and we start sizing up other mothers, comparing ourselves to them and then judging them to make ourselves feel ok – that we ARE good mothers!!
We judge others to make us feel better about ourselves.
How do we change? How do we flip those detrimental thoughts, feelings and behaviour?
My favourite TV shrink, Dr Phil, famously says, ‘You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge’.
Which basically means, if we want to change ourselves for the better, we have to go within and look honestly at ourselves and acknowledge where we have been acting out of fear.
It can be scary to look within – we don’t always like what we see in our behaviours. But doing so opens the door to change for the better!
Doing so gives us the chance to acknowledge our own negative thought patterns: to work out where we have been acting out of fear; where we have been judging or undermining others. When we acknowledge that, we can change and make the choice to think and behave from love not fear.
It’s simpler than you think. The key is being able to recognise when that fear is churning up and being able to stop it: to change our thoughts and change our behaviour to kind, loving thoughts and actions.
Now I would like to point out that I am, in fact, not Mother Theresa or Dr Phil and have absolutely been guilty of less than admirable behaviour myself at times.
At the end of the day, we are all little humans doing our best in the world.
What I have learnt, though, is that when I have behaved like that, it often comes from a place of fear: my own fear. Fear of not being good enough or fear that I will fail.
So I optimistically believe that we can get there – that we can reach that epic victory. But it takes awareness, it takes commitment and it takes the ability to look within… honestly… and change our fearful thoughts and actions to kind, loving ones.
Now imagine if we all did that! We may just achieve that epic victory of women uplifting and boosting one another, not undermining each other.