Do you hear that voice? The one inside your head that says things like, “It’s not fair! Gina’s prettier… Priya has more money… And Sue runs circles around me at the gym. I bet she doesn’t deal with light bladder leakage.”
Pang! What was that? Envy? Comparing yourself to others can be confidence-shaking. What can you do to console yourself when another woman seems to have it better than you? Here are three ideas:
1. Be happy for her.
I know, it sounds like crazy talk, but try it. It’ll shift you into a state of grace. No one’s life is free from troubles, and it’s easy to forget that seemingly perfect people deal with their own private struggles, insecurities, or secrets you know nothing about. Instead of seeing a one-dimensional competitor in front of you, try to see a whole human being. Then, remind yourself of what you’re grateful for in your life and you might just start to feel better about yourself.
2. Replace the habit.
When you catch yourself wishing you could trade looks, bank accounts, or bladders with someone else, press pause. It’s okay to want what others have. Though, feeling bad about yourself for not having it is a choice – and a habit – you can break. To break a habit, you need to replace it with something new. So, try this. Start comparing yourself to only one person: you.
When you leak, compare the way you manage LBL now with the way you used to deal with it. Are you calmer than you used to be? Did you remember to stash an extra pad in your purse this time? Measure your own progress and improvements, rather than trying to measure up against someone else. And should you slip and compare yourself to that willowy woman in white silk shorts, ask yourself, “What would I rather be focusing on right now?”
3. Switch from competitive to collaborative comparisons.
Comparing, at its best, helps you join forces with other women to find solutions to life’s challenges. When you and your friends compare and contrast different ways of handling parenting issues, stubborn husbands, or LBL, everyone gets new insights and ideas. For example, a woman I’ll call Maureen came to my last empowerment retreat heartsick because her sixteen-year-old son chose to move out to live with her ex-husband. It was still fresh and too painful to share with anyone. During the workshop, I invited women to cross a blue line on the floor if they felt comfortable sharing different truths about themselves. When I said, “Please cross the line if you’ve ever lost a child,” Maureen felt her foot move forward, then stopped as Patricia, a woman who’s first born had passed away, crossed the line and faced her. After the exercise, Maureen shared with the group, “That was a life-changing moment for me, because I realized that just because my son lives with his dad, it doesn’t mean I lost my child. Patricia gave Maureen a big hug, happy to have helped her new friend see things differently.
Whether the question is, “Do you compare yourself to others?” or “Have you ever peed a little after a cough, laugh, or sneeze?,” we find compassion for ourselves and others by becoming aware of our differences and what we have in common in the spirit of support.
Comparing ways of managing leaks will help you discover – like I did – that, “You’ll leak less by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles tight right before you sneeze.” It can help you learn tricks to make life easier, like using an app on your phone to find nearby bathrooms when you’re away from home or gaining confidence by switching from period pads to liners designed specifically for pee.
When it comes to comparing, it’s important to remember what you already know – the person whose approval, love, and positive regard you really need is your own. What might happen if you made a practice of being a little kinder and gentler with yourself? Why not find out today?
What about you?
Have you and your friends ever compared ways of managing LBL?