Comparison, Inferiority and Joy

One of my most favorite women in history is Eleanor Roosevelt.  She put up with a lot of crap from that President of hers.  But, she did it with grace and dignity.  I have read more books about her than I can count and while she was the epitome of what a First Lady stood for, she also understood feeling inferior in the Presidential circles which she was forced into. However, while many would have seen superiority on the outside, Eleanor worked tirelessly helping lesser women find food, housing and healthcare.  She was incredible at fitting in to environments that most of us could not imagine.  Even when she showed up in her fancy car and pearls others never felt she was better than they were.  They never felt inferior to her.  Why?  Because they simply saw confidence in someone who WANTED to help them.  Her heart and the way that she carried herself spoke much louder than her tailored suit and label.  Her confidence won over so many and none thought her the better for it.  They were thankful for a woman who could organize, make a plan and get things done. Ironically, it was her husband who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Nothing good comes of playing small or comparing one woman to another. Not a damn thing.  Eleanor had many joyous moments in her private life stolen by comparing herself to others and what people would think of her. As with many women today, we cheat ourselves by assuming other women are better than we are. It’s the story we tell ourselves when we feel ill equipped or less than. However, it is such an untruth.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor is quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  This quote is life changing.  You become what you allow.  So, why do we as women compare ourselves to each other so much?  It is such a terrible habit.  Why do those of us with confidence come across as superior to others?  And, why do those of us with little confidence feel inferior to other women?  Is it because in today’s culture we have “perfect” images slapped in our faces via social media, television and magazines?  Or, did someone plant the seed in our childhood that we couldn’t do what someone else could do simply because we had less belief in ourselves.

If only women could see that money does not buy happiness, looks do not make someone love you and we all have issues whether we show them or not. The people you base your inferiority on are actually just more confident in who they are and come ACROSS as better because YOU make yourself feel weaker and smaller in their presence.  It is NOT on the person you deem superior to make you feel better.  This is YOUR battle to fight.  You planted the seed and now you have to stop it from rooting and taking over your life. Society forces us to compare all things. It is only when we decide we are worth more that we move toward true change.

Can inferiority be a generational issue?

Many females become what is expected of them from previous generations.  If you are aware of your family history, you can trace the pattern to present day.  Did your female mentors place confidence in you or in their daily decisions? Or, were most decisions made for them?  In my case, I had two strong willed grandmothers who showed confidence in two incredibly different ways.  One grandmother was a stubborn, fierce and strong personality.  She said what was on her mind and if she said you had gained a few pounds, she meant it. ;) The other grandmother was the most indecisive person I knew.  She couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner, but she was confident in her abilities to give back to those in need.  She stood up for the weak and made strides for friends and family to have as much as she did.  Her personality was smaller, but still fierce in her own mild way.  

These role models (along with my Mother), have always had so much belief in me, my sibling and my cousins.  We knew we could achieve anything we set our minds to…period.  If we wanted to pursue an engineering degree even after the high school math teacher told us we would never make it, then so be it, but show them you can!  And, for the record…true story.  I did show them!  My Mother always told me that, “nobody was better than me.”  That was not meant to make me feel superior or that I had more, but meant to show me that if I truly wanted something then I could achieve it.  Passing confidence on from generation to generation is why I feel confident today.  I know that I will fail, I know that I will succeed.  It all depends on ME.  However, once you start comparing yourself to others you immediately set yourself up to fail and feel less than.  

If you find yourself to be one of those who constantly feels inferior on a daily basis, you are amazing and capable of stopping the pattern now.  You can’t grow self-esteem and confidence alongside the old money tree in the back yard, but you can take steps forward to change your thought patterns and mindset.  Each step forward will create more confidence and you will eventually feel secure enough to hold your own power in your hands.  Now is the perfect time to take the plunge; especially if you have children who see you self-destruct from inferiority complexes or always comparing yourself to someone else.  They are watching and learning from you.  Stop the pattern now before they fall prey to it.

How to heal…

Immediately STOP in the very moment that little voice inside you screams any of the following:

  • “Gosh, I could never be like her.”

  • “How does she do it all?”

  • “Why can’t I be like she is?”

  • “Why can’t I have the ring, car, husband, house, income, <insert material thing here> that she has?”

  • “Everyone loves her. I wish I could be popular.”

  • “How can she make success look easy and I can’t?”

  • “I will never be able to achieve what she has.”

  • “How are her children always little angels?” ;)

  • Or, any moment that degrades, downplays, depresses or compares you to someone you see being on a pedestal.

Now, figure out WHY you felt inferior. Was there a trigger that sparked the fire? If so, try to remember where and when it started. Is it because you FELT:

  • The person you feel inferior to has more CONFIDENCE than you?

  • The person you feel inferior to has a BETTER or EASIER life than you?

  • The person you feel inferior to looks DOWN upon you?

  • The person you feel inferior to has MORE than you?

  • The person you feel inferior to ACTS better than you?

Once you have established which of the above you FELT, then you can begin to process how to work through the inferiority complex.  

The solution is very simple.  All of the above situations are based solely upon YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE.  In each of the above scenarios you are simply feeling less than because you do not feel equal on some basis to the other person.  Many confident women have NO idea that they are making you feel inferior.  The women you look up to as superior would likely be crushed that you felt less than them.   Likely, they have no idea that you feel less than to them to begin with.  They may even feel inferior to YOU. 

I promise and guarantee that they would be the first to tell you that once they decided to believe in themselves life got easier.  They felt empowered to do good and simply be themselves.  They are no better than you.  They have simply found the confidence that you are so desperately seeking to find.  These are the women you want in your tribe.  Find your confidence and you have found the golden key to stopping inferiority.  Confident females want to LIFT up women, not break them down.  Remember this the next time you start thinking that someone is better than you.  They may exude confidence on the outside for the world to see only to be miserable on the inside. Having some confidence yourself will lead you in the right direction and see that we all are fighting a hard battle and should be in this together…not envying each other and wondering why we didn’t get all that she got. 

On a side note, lack of confidence and inferiority can take a complete toll on relationships. When one half of the relationship thinks the other half is better than they are, life becomes increasingly hard, competitive and painful. The one that feels inferior also feels shame and sadness because they may be living in the shadow of their partner due to lack of their own confidence and self-esteem. On the other hand, the one that is told that they are superior feels incredible guilt for simply being confident. They may also be unaware how to remedy the situation as they are simply being authentic with themselves. Many times they are having to carry the weight of both sides forward using their own confidence until the other can believe in themself.