Why Women Compete With Other Women

04/09/2015 08:39 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015


For over 10 years, I've run a successful life-coaching business that has supported hundreds of women with starting businesses, writing their books, and designing better work/life strategies. The one experience commonly shared by my clients as they have endeavored to accomplish their goals is dealing with women who instead of supporting their success, compete with or sabotage them.

You may have struggled with the same situation and have had trouble understanding why this has happened to you now or in the past. Women often feel justified competing with other women for many reasons. Here are some of the most prevalent.

1. Insecurity

When a woman becomes aware of another woman's power, beauty and/or talent she has a few choices when considering how she will respond. She can either admire, copy or envy the woman who has these traits. Through my close association with women over the years, (I attended both an all-girls high school and college and my business caters to women), I learned that these are the typical responses that women consciously or subconsciously choose when they meet and assess other women.

Women who admire strength in other women can only do so because they know what it required to develop that strength. They know that in order to attain brilliance in her life, business or career it took hard work, purposeful decisions and a commitment to self-improvement. These women haven't the time to compete or the energy to waste on envy because they understand and identify with the challenging nature of success.

Then there are the women who admire a successful, strong woman and attempt to transform themselves into a carbon copy of her. These individuals haven't yet learned that duplication of another is never truly possible and that it is rarely fulfilling even once the goal is accomplished. That woman hasn't yet accepted herself, her gifts and her strengths -- she believes that everything good is outside of herself which, of course, just isn't true. These women work tirelessly to create a false version of themselves based on someone else's dreams, plans and goals. Imagine the energy and effort this takes. For me, it takes everything I have to focus on a plan for my life and to choose powerfully that which is best for me and my family each day. Picture the decision-making process for a person who lives her life this way. Imagine the thought process of someone who isn't true to herself and her talents -- who has to study another person before determining an action to take. This has to be exhausting.

The women that envy other women's success tend not to like themselves. Seeing the sparkle of another diamond drives them to work harder to prove to themselves and to others that they are enough or that they are better (whatever that means). The path of envy is a dangerous one that leads to a dark hole that can only be filled by an inner shift in thinking. I've learned over the years that a woman who envies other women often does so because successful individuals remind her of a painful situation in her past. Maybe a confident person is a reminder of those times she was overlooked because she hadn't yet grown into the person that she is today. Painful experiences often prompt women to make unhealthy vows (like, "I'll show her she isn't better than me") to protect themselves from future hurt. While this energy can be very productive by becoming the motivating force that drives a woman to succeed, it is also very destructive because the foundation on which it is built is negativity.

2. A belief that life isn't abundant

There are so many opportunities that await us all each day, but when we compete with others we believe that essentially only a subset of those opportunities are available to us. Big minds see the pasture and small minds see a plot of grass. If this is you, get out of your head and know that opportunities are only as available as your ability to be grateful. The state of thankfulness actually fulfills you and removes the blinders that inhibit you. When scarcity is your filter it means that you believe life is either feast or famine instead of the buffet that awaits you.

3. A belief that it's possible to dominate others

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of domination is the exercise of control or influence over someone or something, or the state of being so controlled. Women are particularly guilty of this mindset in business. Women often believe that in order to move forward we have to conquer others, when in reality we are conquering ourselves. Success isn't the domination of others, it is self-mastery in order to create systems of consistent success. The truth is the only person you can control is you. A mindset that tells you otherwise is faulty and based on a small reality. Yes, you can create success and believe that you are winning but know that one person isn't a nation.

4. A need to prove to herself that she is okay

When we don't feel "good enough," we tend to need external indicators to tell us that we are acceptable. When we experience personal growth, and work on how we think, we then understand that we are "good enough" because internally we are at peace with ourselves. No peace -- no joy.

5. An unhealthy need to be accepted by others

A "Like" today is easily acquired and means nothing unless you actually like yourself. We live busy and out loud so that we don't have to deal with the true state of our hearts. It is so much easier to let the voice of the crowd or a group guide you and validate that little girl who hasn't yet learned to say, "I like me and, yes, that includes my hips, my thighs, my belly, and my education, and my upbringing was enough, etc." I teach my daughter that the first "like" that matters is that you like that girl you see in the mirror. When that happens, she (and you and I) will be free to live a life that honors her true self.

I tell my clients that having compassion and grace for competitive women comes from understanding what motivates them. It doesn't make the behavior acceptable but understanding moves us to respond in a way that is positive for our own health and success. Dealing with competitive women is just one of the many issues with which I help my clients work through during my life and business coaching sessions. Business isn't just about marketing and financial strategies; it's about relationships. Understanding ourselves and others is a building block upon which we can create a life and a business that is both profitable and fulfilling.


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