This is my second draft....my finished paper will be a bit better but I wanted to share :)
Lifting One Another Up: A Revolution
The first time I experienced women tearing another down to make themselves feel better was when I heard my mom and Nana talking about one of my aunts. I tip toed down the long dark hallway at my Nana's house and quietly slipped into the room they were in and I sat down pretending to play with a toy. I was a nosy child and wanted to know what the adults always talked about. As I listened, they dissected how ugly my aunt was compared to both of them while analyzing themselves in the mirror, nodding in agreement with the other. I grew up thinking that we were supposed to do that.
It was about 8 years ago when I saw how wrong it is. I had joined a direct sales company called Slumber Parties. Their tag line was "Empowering women from the bedroom to the bank." Which I didn't really over think it too much at the time. I wanted to get out of the house and make extra money. Little did I know that deciding to get involved with this company by attending my first convention would change how I looked at everything.
I was severely depressed at this point of my life because I felt like I wasn't who I was meant to be. I was not happy with anyone, including myself. I was tore others down to make myself feel better. I knew I wanted to get out of whatever hole I had dug myself into. A friend of mine coerced me into attending a motivational class with her and I grudgingly went. When I got to the class I had a seat in the back of the large ball room, not wanting to really get involved. It felt like I was about to hear nothing of interest to me. Almost pouting, I listened to a woman that had been with the company for a few years talk about her life. The ups, down, and severe depression she went through. I watched the way she lifted up everyone in class, asking them about their troubles and giving them a hug, showing them she honestly cared. It surprised me on how moved I was. I wanted to be like her. I had a chance to talk to this woman and it instantly made me feel better. While we didn't go through the exact same things in life, we were kindred spirits because of the struggle. I felt like this was the way women were supposed to be toward each other. Lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. It was my ray of light at the end of my dark depressed tunnel. I went home and worked hard at applying this positive outlook into my life.
When I look at posts through my newsfeed on Facebook today, I have a lot of fitness people and people on weight loss journeys in my friend's list, and it floors me to see posts with them tearing another person down to make themselves feel better. Posting pictures with a curvy woman and a caption like "real men like meat, dogs like bones" or some other way of shaming a person. It isn't only limited to this, I see this when people tear down celebrities or just a random stranger or even my pictures. My before and after weight loss pictures have been on TV, in magazines and published online. It was a thrilling rollercoaster ride that suddenly thrust me into the spotlight and I wasn't expecting the cruelty a stranger would show to me. Don't get me wrong, the support was amazing but equally amazing were the women that commented or emailed me trying to hurt my feelings by picking my looks apart and saying they look so much better. I have to wonder why do women do this? Why do women try to tear another down to build themselves up? When is shaming another ok? It's not. In order for us to grow mentally in a positive direction, we need to put an effort in stopping this.
This problem is one that humans naturally have, both men and women. Men will tend to cause physical fights with other men and women will normally have indirect aggression. So how do we stop the cycle? In an article I have recently read called People Who Tear You Down by Deanna Schwartz, she writes "People who feel good about themselves want to make others feel good and don't need to knock the joy out of someone." (1). To me, this is true and the answer to stopping the cycle. Usually when someone is feeling insecure or just not happy about themselves they will try to take everyone around them along for the ride. I call them toxic people or haters.
People have to want to change themselves. If they do not, then there is nothing you can say or do about what they say or their actions. So what can you do? Limit or eliminate your exposure to people that are toxic. If you become more secure in yourself it helps too because then what they do say doesn't hurt or hurt as much.
One of my relatives is a very toxic person. I tolerated her up to a point but I did listen to her tear other people down. I felt very guilty about listening. Even if I didn't participate it still felt like I was enabling her to keep doing it. Soon she set her sights on me and it got back to me that she was making awful remarks about me like she was to the other people I listened to her talk about. It made me feel so horrible. I tried to talk to her about it but she thought nothing was wrong with doing it. She called it constructive criticism but making fun of another person's looks, religious preference or the way they dress is not constructive criticism. After I thought about it, I decided to walk away from my relationship with her. It was hard because I was taught to never turn my back on family but it made my life less stressful and I was smiling a lot more. Mark Twain has said “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” After eliminating my relative from my life I put forth more effort to be friends with people that were happy with themselves.
If you don't want to eliminate the toxic person from your life, Schwartz says, "When you don't stop someone from hurting you with insults or disrespectful behavior, they will keep doing it and think it's OK." (1). My mother is the one person that was going to stay in my life but I never liked her negative attitude and her passive aggressiveness. For example "You have such a pretty face, if only you'd lose weight.". I tried to talk to her in a non threatening manner with no avail. It was suggested to me by my friend, the motivational speaker, that I simple stop the conversation with my mom whenever it turned negative towards me or just in general. So I tried it, when it started to turn negative I would simply not say another word and just walk away or leave. It really threw my mom for a loop, to put it nicely it drove her crazy but I stuck to my guns. After about a month of doing this to my mom, I noticed that the negative conversations slowed down a considerable amount. It eventually stopped. If only everyone can be that easy right? In the long run, it is your responsibility to not allow others to treat you in a way that makes you unhappy.
What if you are the one tearing another down to build yourself up? What can you do to change? I used to be one of these people too. So what changed? I decided to love myself and embrace my body, flaws and all. Believe in the Laws of Attraction. What you think and believe, you attract the same to you on the outside. It sounds a little hokey, but ever have something bad happen to you and it ruins your mood? What happens for the rest of the day? It seems like it's just raining bad on you right? The same thing happens if you are in a good mood all day. Most of the day it feels like you are walking on clouds and smelling roses. Even if something bad happens, you take it with a bit more stride. This also works with talking to yourself about yourself. I used to talk to myself negatively. I figured that if I called myself a fat ass or made jokes about my that when someone else would call me this or make jokes then it wouldn't hurt. It did the exact opposite. The more I called myself names, the more it hurt. I had to learn to be nice to myself. I started with just writing down 5 positive things about me for every negative thought in a purple spiral notebook. It soon filled up with scribbles of my negative talk and my positive rebuttals. If you wouldn't say it to your best friend then chances are you shouldn't say it to yourself. Once you start treating yourself with love and respect, it trickles into every aspect of your life. Including wanting to see others lifted up.
A revolution is coming. One where we, as women, start lifting each other up instead of tearing another down to make ourselves feel better. It starts inside you. We fall into the trap all too easily of being our worst enemies. Turn into your own best friend and you will see that it is all interconnected. We are all beautiful in our own unique way and it's time to celebrate that. Be truly happy for others, complement them on their achievements or just listen. I try to lift others up every day when I'm online or when it's real life. It makes my life better and it will make your life better too. Try it.