I got tons of feedback for my post My Deep, Dark Self-Love Secret. The basic gist of that article was that I admire myself in the mirror and think really nice thoughts about myself, from the point of view of someone who thinks I’m flawless; my imaginary “biggest fan.” People have been asking me ever since for more practices to master self-love and acceptance, so today I’m sharing another huge piece of the puzzle.
It’s simple. Stop judging other women.
We know that snap judgments are bad for the world at large, but people rarely discuss how destructive being judgmental is for the person who is doing it. I’m going to try to convince you that being judgmental of other women could be causing you to live in hateful chaos, and that you must consciously rise above it if you want to live peacefully in your body, and to love and accept yourself (as I know you do, since you read my blog).
Just to be clear: I don’t think you should judge anyone. But women tend to judge other women the harshest, and our bodies, outfits, and appearances get hit the most consistently and aggressively, because they’re easily accessible. I know some people call this on-going judgment of other women a “guilty pleasure,” because it gives you a private little hit of satisfaction. When you sum up another woman in a split second, and find something wrong with her, you get to enjoy a momentary jolt of superiority.
If it feels good, what’s the problem?
The problem is that every time you look at another woman and find something wrong with her based on her body, looks, or anything else, you reinforce for yourself the idea that there is a universal “right” and “wrong” way for a woman to have a body, look, live, act, dress, or otherwise. You solidify imaginary rules in your mind for what is “acceptable” and and what is “unacceptable.” You may momentarily feel superior, but when repeated over and over again in countless scenarios for a lifetime, you will also eventually feel very alone, isolated, and anxious. Being hyper-aware of the countless (self-imposed) ways in which you could fail at being a woman encourages you to take fewer risks, keep your true self better hidden, trust fewer people, and constantly guard yourself against the endless imminent threats of how you could be “doing it wrong.”
Not only does your habit of judging other women shrink your life down into an ongoing list of do’s and don’ts, but keeping company with that nasty little voice in your head 24/7 makes you, understandably, kind of paranoid and defensive.
It’s like how you always end up feeling really shitty about yourself after you spend time with that one friend who gossips about all your other friends. She might claim you’re exempt from her mean gossip, but you can’t help but wonder what she says about you when you’re not there. Similarly, after you spend the whole day (or year, or decade) looking around and finding faults with everyone else, you naturally start to imagine that everyone you meet is doing the same to you. Now not only do you feel kinda shitty, but you’ve also got this whole other nasty narrative taking up space in your head, wondering about all the mean things other people could be thinking about you in their heads. In response, you shrink yourself even further, trying to avoid anything that stirs up extra attention, or potential judgment from others.
This endless, cluttered, negative ocean of fear and judgment clouds your mind and poisons your heart. It make you feel insecure, stressed, unhappy, anxious, paranoid, obsessive, and completely unable to let go and be present. With that as your baseline, it becomes damn near impossible to look at yourself, or your body, and say “Yup, this is perfect.”
So how do you stop judging?
Step 1: Awareness
Start paying attention to your daily judgmental habits. Sometimes I assign “judgment journals” for clients, to bring awareness to how often they’re doing it. Many have been shocked to realize how often they say mean things about other women in their heads.
Step 2: Consciously, actively seek out the best in everyone.
Every single judgment (good OR bad) is essentially make-believe. You may be in habit of finding or inventing other people’s faults; what if you tried to find or invent their gifts? Step 2 is to think nice thoughts about other women. I believe everyone has a Best Self, a side of her that only comes out when she feels safe and comfortable and happy. Trust that she has one, and try to see it. Train yourself to search for, and find, the unique and wonderful gifts that every woman has to offer.
Practicing Step 2 is like meditation for me. It has an incredibly powerful and transformative effect, especially when I’m feeling bad about myself for any reason. Try it when you people-watch, and see how much nicer the narrative in your head becomes. Consciously try to find something terrific about each woman, that you can love or admire. If that’s too hard at first, try to find something you can at least relate to, or empathize with. If all that fails, just make up something nice!
See if you can turn “That woman was so rude to her child just now, what a bitch!” into “She looks so exhausted. I’ve been exhausted too. I bet she’s doing her best.” And then challenge yourself to go even deeper; search for signs of her Best Self, her unique genius, or the amazing gifts that she might keep well-hidden.
I personally do this on the subway. I keep my headphones in but turn off my music, and I look around and find something I can love about each person, focusing especially on the women. This practice makes me kinder, calmer, happier, more compassionate, and far more loving. It’s shocking how much more difficult it is to judge myself harshly, after looking around this way for even 20 minutes.
By practicing non-judgment and actively seeking out the best in others, you can permanently alter your inner landscape, and your whole life. Without the endless rules and constant threat of “messing up” hovering over you, you are able to relax and see that everyone is on their own journey, and doing it their own way, and that’s ok. There is no right and wrong way to be a woman or have a body, and so you become free to do and be whatever you wish.
When you reach this place, you’ll naturally find yourself on Step 3. You’ll start to take more risks, slowly let down your guard, and share more of your own best, authentic self with others. This lets you organically connect with people who appreciate your unique genius, and who hold your best self in high esteem. As you relax and “unguard” yourself, you will be able to more easily trust others, reach out, and most importantly: align yourself with similarly unguarded, amazing women who will continue to raise you up and reinforce your positive behaviors.
Step 3: Find Your Community
Surround yourself with as many empowered, non-judgmental, kick-ass women as you possibly can. Being a part of a community that reinforces your goal behaviors is scientifically proven to be the biggest key to sustainable change. That means the more authentic women on a similar mission for self-love that you meet and connect with, the more likely you are to succeed at your own journey.
Personally I used to think I was a woman who related to men better than women. I found it hard to make female friends, and I took it as the highest compliment when someone said I wasn’t like the other girls. For some reason, women have been taught from a very young age that the worst thing we can do is be like “the other girls.” The dark implication there is that all other women suck, and that we have to forgo being “normal” in order to maintain the belief that we are better than them. But we’re not better than them. And once you are able to see that, the shame and isolation you’ve been carrying on your back by trying so hard not to be like “those girls” melts away forever.
One of the most liberating realizations I ever had was that I’m not “different” than the other girls. I’m just normal. Unique? Of course. Girlie? Not really. But I am like the other girls, and the other girls are like me. Upon acknowledging that, a limitless well of connection to other women opened up, and I felt supported and able to thrive in ways I had never imagined was possible. I now proudly consider myself a woman’s woman.
Finding your tribe of kickass lady friends will start to happen naturally when you’re in the habit of searching for and assuming the best about other women. Most of us have spent our entire lives feeling like other women don’t like us, and for good reason. Nobody behaves like their Best Self when they feel defensive, or jealous, or they’re trying to prove how different they are. Luckily, just like the self-fulfilling prophesy of women being catty and judgmental, so too is there a self-fulfilling prophesy of women being generous and amazing. By placing yourself on the same level, and automatically assuming the best about them, you offer other women the glorious opportunity to be their Best Self and prove you right.
Surrounding yourself with a community of amazing, empowered women is one of the best ways I know of to create sustainable body-love change. You’ll start to see that there is an endless abundance of beauty, wealth, success, and opportunity, and that what another woman has doesn’t take anything away from you. The higher your level of connection to this sense of sisterhood, the more you will be able to love and accept not only yourself, but all women everywhere. And so the cycle will continue.
This is why I sometimes say my goal is to create an army of empowered women; because what is best for you is also best for all of us.
Non-judgment, seeing the best in others, and building your sisterhood takes time and patience. It requires giving up the “guilty pleasure” of feeling momentarily superior, and the ego hit that you’re not better than everyone. It takes consciously, purposefully seeking out and surrounding yourself with other amazing women, and understanding that there is plenty of beauty, success, and opportunity to go around. It’s an on-going, life-long practice that gets easier the more you do it. But for the chance to live your life free from judgment, body-hatred, anxiety, isolation, and the constant feeling that you need to change in order to be good enough… it’s absolutely worth it.
I am passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies. That includes unlearning what a woman “should” be, feeling empowered and confident in yourself, embracing your authentic power, and creating a life so kick-ass and beautiful that you hardly have any time or energy left over to think about how your body looks. 😉
That’s why I created
— for women like you, who are sick of being judged for what you look like, and want to focus instead on all the amazing things you can do and be. Click here to know more