We talk a lot about the war on women. At work (wage inequality). On the playing field (domestic violence). On campus (date rape). In the legislature and judiciary (restricted reproductive choice). It's become a meme, a memorable turn of phrase that both highlights and diminishes the importance of the issue at hand.
But what about the personal war we women wage on ourselves every day? When we stand before the mirror or wake up at three in the morning. The self-defeating and marginalizing comments that become second nature after the age of eight (not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough). They're as devastating as bullets and just as deadly.
The good news is that you can silence that internal critic who brings you down. Here's how:
1. Ask yourself: is this story true? Have I really gained weight or is this style simply unflattering to my shape? Am I really unqualified for this job/promotion/raise or am I simply insecure because I don't think I meet/exceed every single qualification? Take a good, realistic look at yourself (or talk with an objective friend or colleague) and separate fact from fiction so you can act with your best intentions at heart.
2. Develop greater self-awareness. Make a chart of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and things that get in the way. Getting things down on paper will help you see yourself more clearly so you can focus on what's worth working on or pursuing and what's worth letting go.
3. Cultivate shades of grey. (No, not that!) Are you prone to an all-or-nothing-at-all approach to life? Extreme thinking can really color your perceptions of what's real and true. Tone down the black and white so you can see things as they really are and not as you may fear.
4. Choose empathy over judgment. As hard as we are on ourselves, we can be even harder on other women. You never know what's going on in someone else's life, so take a step back before you judge another's life choices. That compassion will come back to you.
If we want to end the war on women, let's start by first making peace with ourselves.