WHY ENVYING OTHER WOMEN WILL GET YOU NOWHERE

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best, the fairest, the most successful, the most desirable or the cleverest of them all?” How often does this unspoken question appear on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and on other social media platforms! Essentially, comparing oneself with others is a positive thing. After all, it can help us improve our understanding of ourselves or assess the behaviour we display in different situations even better.

Comparing ourselves with others can also strengthen us in times of crisis, especially when we realise that we are not alone with our problems, but that others make similar experiences or have to deal with similar challenges.

COMPARING ONESELF WITH OTHERS CAN BE CONSTRUCTIVE OR DESTRUCTIVE

Constructive comparisons with others can spur us on to make changes or improvements when we honestly try to refine ourselves. But in many cases such comparisons elicit pure envy. Namely when we

… are discontented

… do not make the most of our talents

… feel at a disadvantage

… begrudge others their success

… see that others live our dreams

… make others believe that we feel much better than is actually the case.

Preferably, we compare ourselves with people with whom we have a lot in common or who are in similar job or life situations. And social media actively supports us in doing so.

Therefore, it would be worth consideration to analyse one’s own life first, in order to find out if it is actually “worth” it to envy others. Many things that seem enviable at a first glance, look entirely different at a second glance. After all, the price many people have to pay for being envied by others is frequently too high. Therefore, the comparison and the envy are quickly put into perspective, because one should take into account all aspects, including the compromises and sacrifices that someone has to make for their “enviable” life.

FEMALE COOPERATION INSTEAD OF FEMALE COMPETITION

Something that always cuts me to the quick is the competition that is openly or secretly going on between us women. As long as we women think of each other as rivals, we will always want to “win” or at least have the edge over each other. We want the most handsome man, the most perfect shape, the most flawless complexion, the smartest children or the most profitable job. But a lot of precious energy falls by the wayside in this pointless competition, and this does not make us happier at the end of the day.

As long as we women compete with each other and envy each other, we close our minds to our female elementary power. Because we compete with each other and envy each other, we focus our energies in a direction that neither gets us nor others anywhere. On the contrary! We display a kind of behaviour that is strongly informed by patriarchal ideology, which we actually should dismiss altogether. After all, the female power, which is inherent in every woman, is able to develop inner greatness and individuality, while at the same time not begrudging other women their otherness and happiness.

 

Women

NO LONGER GET IN YOUR OWN WAY AND DO NOT ENVY OTHERS (10/10)

10 steps for women who eventually want to fulfil their potential (10/10)

Wilhelm Busch once said that envy is the most honest form of recognition

Whereas jealousy means ‘I want to have what you have’, being envious means ‘I want to have what you have, and I do not want you to have it!’. While a little bit of jealousy adds a certain amount of flavour to a dish, like salt and pepper, envy means emptying the whole pepper mill on it.

Furthermore, envy indicates a lack of self-worth, and hints at self-pity, which results in comparing oneself with others, and feeling disadvantaged.

And the other way round: if we feel envied, it is the unspoken confession that we are better or more successful, or simply luckier. At least, at the first, more superficial glance. However, if you take a closer look at the spiritual laws, you will discover that everything that happens to us is the result of cause and effect.

Envy is of no benefit because…

  • you benefit more from concentrating on your own life, needs and successes
  • you are happier when content with what you have
  • it is better to concentrate on your abilities and talents rather than peering at others
  • it is better to define personal levels and priorities
  • envy can destroy relationships, which you definitely do not want
  • envy weakens your self-worth, your self-esteem, and your self-confidence, which is the last thing you want

THOUGHTS ON THE TOPIC ‘ENVY’

  • Nobody knows what is going on behind the closed doors of other people. Maybe they pay a high price for their success.
  • Envy is like poison. It has a direct effect on your body and weakens it. Nelson Mandela once said that envy is like drinking poison, hoping that it might kill your enemies. Envy always works against you!
  • If you are envied, do not be offended or angry – the successful German TV presenter Robert Lembke used to say ‘Pity you get for free, envy you must earn’.
  • Watch yourself and recognize in which situations you feel envy and why. Only when you see through your behaviour patterns, can you consciously work on them.
  • Admit to your insecurity, your frustration or self-pity in connection with envy. You do not have to be ashamed! But the longer you suppress these emotions, the deeper you go down the spiral of envy.
  • Change your point of view of life, and abandon your role as a victim. As long as you believe you were disadvantaged as a child, and still are as an adult, you will always envy other people. Realize that other people’s lives, which you probably envy, are not perfect, or without problems.
  • Stop thinking about what is fair or not. You do not know about the higher plan behind other people’s lives. You have no idea about their learning tasks and developing steps, and what challenges they have to face. Maybe their hardest learning tasks feel easy for you.
  • Have the courage to change your living conditions if you are unhappy. Nagging, envy and moaning only cost valuable energy, but are of no use. Oh well, as the saying goes: change it, love it or leave it!

 

Women&Consciousness

WHY I BECAME A VEGETARIAN

For ten years my parents tried to make me eat what normal people eat. They eventually succeeded. In the first ten years of my life I refused meat and dairy products. And I still do not like onions, garlic and leeks. And there is more…

I remember very well when I slowly started to eat cheese at the age of eight. A strange thing indeed, considering my father held a leading position in a local dairy. It was no problem for me to eat bread and butter, therefore, my mother mixed mild cheese spread with loads of butter, so that I got used to the taste of cheese. The next step was bread and butter with thinly sliced cheese. Even this became normal for me, so I turned to stronger cheeses, until I ended with really stinky ones. Everybody was proud of me!

AS A CHILD I FELT DISGUSTED BY SAUSAGE

I also found sausages disgusting! But this is a different story. Today, some decades later, I am aware that I was born as a semi-vegan. Of course, this did not fit into the prevailing habits of the society I grew up in. Many children have a natural instinct, and feel exactly what is good for them and what is not. During my days as a kinesiologist I often experienced that children are allergic or intolerant to food they did not want to eat originally (but were often forced to).

For some years I have been vegetarian for ethical reasons, moving towards becoming vegan. I am not interested in facts and statistics which say it is unhealthy to eat meat. No, I just don’t like meat because I don’t want to eat dead animals. And this includes fish and seafood.

WHY WE LOVE DOGS AND EAT PIGS

I always find it amazing that loving owners of horses, dogs, cats, hamsters or guinea pigs eat a rare steak without turning a hair. The American social psychologist Melanie Joy has written an interesting book on this topic: ‘Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows’.

She says you should imagine the following scenario: you are invited to a festive dinner at friends’. Together with the other guests you sit at a nicely laid table. The room is pleasantly warm, candle light is reflected in crystal glasses filled with wine. There is relaxed conversation. You can smell tempting aromas coming from the kitchen. You have not eaten anything the whole day, and your stomach is rumbling. After some time, which seems a lifetime to you, the host appears with a steaming bowl of stew.

The scent of meat, spices and vegetables is drifting through the room. You help yourself generously. After you have tried the tender meat, you ask the host for the recipe. She happily reveals the secret by telling that she first takes five pounds of golden retriever meat, well marinated, and then… Golden retriever? You are petrified! The meat in your mouth comes from a dog. And now? Would you continue? Or does the thought of Golden Retriever on your plate, which you have just eaten, repel you?

REPRESSION KEEPS SOME FROM EATING MEATLESS

What is going on here? When we think of a golden retriever, we see a dog in front of us, playing ball with children in a garden, dozing in front of the fireplace, or running alongside with a jogger. These images raise sympathy and compassion for the killed dog, and disgust at  the thought of eating this animal. If we deal with beef, however, we skip this part of the process of perception which connects the meat with the cow.

I do not count myself as a militant vegetarian who condemns others for eating meat. People have different reasons why they do not want to exclusively live on vegetables, grain or fruits.

Why do I publish this text on my women’s blog? Because in my experience, it is basically us women who influence the eating habits of our families and therefore, indirectly of our society.

However, an increasing number of children and teenagers influence us adults to do without meat. They simply refuse to eat animals for ethical reasons.

Women

STRESS MANAGEMENT: MEN ARE DIFFERENT, WE WOMEN TOO

Scientists have noticed that the female body reduces stress more quickly and efficiently than the male one. The women in the study produced less cortisol (stress hormones) and less adrenaline than the men undergoing the same test. Also heart frequency and blood pressure rose less strongly in comparison.

Nature has ordained that the male body produces more testosterone then the female one. In stress situations it tells the neuro-receptors to drop everything, and react to a threatening or emotionally escalating situation rapidly. Whereas this was a lifesaver for cavemen, this boost of testosterone often results in a stress reaction, or even aggression, nowadays. Therefore, men are more at risk of a heart attack than women.

MEN ARE ON EMOTIONAL RETREAT

When men feel under pressure, they shut themselves off. They usually try to deal with their stress and their feelings themselves. They resist asking others for help and tend to blame others for their stress/their situation.

WOMEN OPEN UP EMOTIONALLY

When women are under stress, they usually go towards others (other women) and want to speak about their feelings. They react emotionally and find help on the outside. This may be support from friend, but also therapists. And women are more likely to blame themselves for a problem or a stressful situation. But they are also more vulnerable to depression. According to studies, twice as often as men.

“AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY…”

As soon as we understand that due to hormones men react to emotional or stressful burdens differently to women, we can more easily understand and accept that they do not speak about their problems, handle them on their own, and do not want to seek professional help. However, it needs our female sensitivity and empathy to find out if and how we can detect what burdens our loved one.

A blog series for us women which can help to see men with different eyes and to understand them (even better).

Women

SOPHIE SLATER. WHEN YOUNG WOMEN CHANGE THE WORLD

She is a (small) rebellion and this is a good thing. I am talking about the British woman Sophie Slater. She started to study History at Manchester, and became dedicated to women’s rights. One day she had had enough of the way the fashion business treated women. She thought: can fashion be feminist? Are women’s rights considered in the production of clothes? There have been good intentions for years, initiatives for better working conditions in textile factories, campaigns against unnaturally thin models and sexist advertisements. But this has taken much too long for Sophie.

THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN THE FASHION SCENE IS SHOCKINGLY ONE-SIDED

Therefore, the British student founded the company Birdsong with two colleagues in 2014: an internet shop, selling clothes and accessories only made by women in aid projects all over the world. Clothes and style have always fascinated Sophie. As a child she liked to dress up in front of the mirror. During her school-time in the north-east of England, she worked as a shop assistant and model for the American company ‘American Apparel’. Although they claimed not to have their clothes produced by exploitation, the company’s founder Dov Charney had a shockingly one-sided image of women, the young woman remembers. “During my work I was constantly surrounded by posters, showing women’s bottoms.” As it became known that Charney had sexually harassed employees for years, she was sure: the view of women in many fashion companies was still not right.

INTERNET SHOP FOR LONDON WOMEN’S PROJECTS

Sophie worked for an emergency hotline for rape victims, and cared for homeless women. She could see how hard it was for women’s projects when grants were cut back. During a postgraduate programme in London she met Sarah Beckett and Ruba Huleihel, two young women with similar interests. They soon agreed on a study project: they developed an internet shop, offering self-made fashion from several London women’s projects. They took photos of the clothes in parks, and a friend acted as a model. When they went online, they had about 30 products in the shop. After one day they were almost sold out.

Today Birdsong cooperates with 16 women’s projects. Amongst these are six organisations in England, a sewing group of Israeli and Palestinian women, a social enterprise in South Africa, producing necklaces and rings from recycled magazines, and former prostitutes from Thailand, earning their money with self-made jewellery.

NO SWEATSHOPS –  NO PHOTOSHOPS!

About 80% of the proceeds go back to the producers. But the idea of Birdsong goes beyond sales. “We want to remove the male view from fashion”, says Sophie. Therefore, the motto on the website is “No sweatshops, no photoshops” – no exploiting companies and no digitally modified models. The young woman only employs women photographers, and the models have the most different cultural backgrounds. Some women do not shave their underarm hair, some are 86 or transwomen.

THERE IS STILL A BIT OF SEXISM

Birdsong does still not make a profit. The company is supported by private investors and government funding. Therefore, besides her work at Birdsong, Sophie needs three more jobs to pay for her rent: at a school, at a women’s advice centre for rape victims, and as a journalist. But this does not deter her. After all, when she talks with potential investors, she can see how chauvinist not only the fashion business is, but also the scene of social enterprises. She is often seen as a trainee. “There is always some sexism. Only a few investors have the confidence in a young woman to found a company. But every single dress we sell will help to make a change.”

Personal details: Sophie Slater, British and 25 years old, is co-founder of Birdsong (birdsong.london), an internet platform for fashion, produced and sold according to feminist guidelines. She was born in Sheffield, the daughter of a teacher and an administrative officer in the royal household. Besides her job at Birdsong, she gives feminism workshops at schools, works at a social information centre and as a journalist. Here you find an interview with Sophie Slater.

I discovered this article by Sarah Levy in the magazine BRIGITTE 18/2016. I liked this article so much that I copied a large part of it. I assume this is okay for the author and the publisher’s, as I never received a reply to my request for permission to print.

Women

COMMUNICATION: MEN ARE DIFFERENT, WE WOMEN TOO

When it is about the differences between male and female characteristics, we usually come across typical clichés. But this is not what my article is about. I should rather make us women aware that there are sociological differences between the sexes which we should know about. This might help us understand men (even) better.

The sociologist Leonard Benson says that girls are more related to individuals, and boys more to objects. And this is how it continues during adulthood: many men like to talk about the job, finances, cars, sport or politics. We women, however, generally like to talk about things related to other people. As already mentioned, I do not want to reinforce clichés, but we women must not be surprised if we do not always immediately find ourselves in a common basis for conversation with men.

WOMEN COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY AND ABOUT DIFFERENT TOPICS THAN MEN

The linguist Robin Lakoff (1) discovered the following typical differences:

_ women tend to ask more questions to keep conversation flowing; men understand questions more as a direct request for further information

_ women show more interest in their conversation partner than men who aim to prevail more in communication

_ women use more affirming words than men, such as “great!”, “beautiful!”, “wonderful!”, or “amazing!”

_ articles (in women magazines) are somehow always related to psychology in almost every area, from sex to money and nutrition

_ in men’s conversations numbers occur more often than in women’s. Men – even those whose Maths qualification tests are worse than the ones of Rwandan silverback gorillas – appreciate the security of numbers, says Colin McEnroe in the magazine ‘Mirabella’

“AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY …”

If men and women want to develop better communication with the other sex, men should talk more about people, and women more about facts. Maybe men do not find personal topics particularly interesting, and women find facts austere. But as soon as you are aware of the difference, you could at least understand better different needs for communication, accept it more easily, and react to it more ideally.

A series of blogs that can help us to see men with new eyes, understand them (even better). If you want to get more information on this topic, I recommend the book ‘You don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation’ by Deborah Tannen

(1) Lakoff, Robin Tolmach: Talking Power, 1990

Women

WHY IT IS WORTH THINKING ABOUT MINIMALISM IN YOUR OWN WARDROBE

Capsule Wardrobe. And again I have learnt a new word! It is always really amazing for me, and admirable as well, what people come up with. Therefore, I like the idea of a minimalistic wardrobe very much, which, at the same time, aims for sustainability. To have a so-called Capsule Wardrobe means, to manage with less clothing, but nevertheless, to be always well-dressed. And eventually it is about not getting lost looking for the 115th item of clothing in your wardrobe.

I honestly have to admit that I have not tried it myself, but for a few years my focus on buying clothes has clearly been: less is more!

WHAT IS A CAPSULE WARDROBE?

The fashion blogger Caroline Joy Rector (www.un-fancy.com) suggests composing a capsule wardrobe for each season, consisting of 37 items. Namely:

_ 15 tops

_ 9 trousers or skirts

_ 9 pairs of shoes

_ 2 jackets

_ 2 dresses

In addition, handbags, accessories, jewellery, pyjamas, sportswear. Caroline recommends wearing this Capsule Wardrobe for three months, combining the different items, and no shopping. She has even provided a special capsule builder app and a capsule wardrobe planner online for download.

HOW THE BUILDING OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE WORKS

FIRST: Before you start composing your own capsule wardrobe, you need plenty of time and leisure to think about the choice of items of clothing:

_ Do I spend most of the time with children (at home, at the playground, in the kindergarten)?

_ Does my place of work require a business outfit (for example banking, insurance, commercial representation)?

_ Do I spend most of my time in work clothes (as a doctor, midwife, nurse)?

_ Do I work online from home?

_ How often do I have appointments with dress-code?

SECOND: For your capsule wardrobe you define your colour scheme, such as:

_ two (neutral) basic colours, for example, black, dark blue, grey, or brown

_ two contrasting colours, for example, pink and turquoise, and

_ white or light beige.

THIRD: Totally clear out your wardrobe! Only underwear, socks, swimwear and sports gear, as well as accessories (belts, jewellery, bags, scarves, gloves, hats) are allowed back in the wardrobe.

FOURTH: Now you sort the clothing items according to four priorities, labelling them appropriately:

_ ‘FAVOURITES’: clothes you love wearing all the time, which are not too big or too small.

_ ‘MAYBE’: things you do not want to be separated from because they are connected with pleasant memories, or they were very expensive.

_ ‘GET RID OF IT’: clothes you want to sort out (donate them, give them away as presents, or sell them at flea markets, or in vintage stores).

_ ‘NOT NOW’: things you like to wear, but are not appropriate for the current season. They go into a drawer, or a separate part of the wardrobe, waiting for their use in the relevant season.

FIFTH: Eventually you put the ‘FAVOURITE’ pile back into the wardrobe; everything else is stored away.  You only choose from this pile in the next three months.

SIXTH: Briefly before the end of the season, you start planning for the next one. Planning three months in advance can only be a guideline, of course, as the weather is not always respectful of the seasons. But we could divide the year into spring (March to May), summer (June to August), autumn (September to November) and winter (December to February).

SEVENTH: You do not have to stick to it rigidly. If it is 38 instead of 35 items per season, it is okay. Maybe you find a new favourite piece during the season which replaces another one. The main thing is that you only buy things that fit in the ‘FAVOURITE’  pile. And you should have fun doing so. And keep remembering: Less is often really more!

Women