Empowered Women Empower Other Women.
This article is actually inspired by a question I received after posting a TikTok about how empowered women empower other women. I’m not about to take full credit for an idea that someone helped inspire me for. So, I’d like to give a shoutout to Shelli for reaching out and asking me a question. Shelli’s question was: How can some women empower other women and some cannot?
It was a great question and I found that while I could give her a quick answer, I couldn’t actually quit thinking about it. So, I made an entire article about it. Please send me your questions! I’m happy to answer them for you and will absolutely credit you for inspiring me for future articles. Feel free to contact me on this website, on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Now, let’s get into it! I’m going to talk about why some women struggle to empower other women, how we can fix this, and how we can start to empower other women. As you know, I love journal prompts and have made some just for this article! Make sure you reflect on those prompts and join me in lifting up other women!
Why some women might struggle to empower other women
Shelli asks, “How can some women empower others and some cannot?”. The short answer is that empowered women empower other women. For those who are empowering other women, it comes from them already feeling whole, empowered, and secure enough in themselves.
The more complicated part of this question is the latter part, why some women cannot do this. Immediately, a few different answers come to mind for me.
The first is that a lot of this behavior might be generational trauma being passed down. I have talked a lot about Ending Generational Trauma. Read that article to hear more about the basics and why generational trauma ends with us. Right now we are just going to talk about how this impacts this one area of our lives as women.
We watch how our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and older sisters interact with the world. This is where we begin to learn these behaviors. The traumas that these women have endured, from society, history, or other women, are being passed down to us. And a lot of times we don’t question how we are learning to be or act in this world.
When you are young, you don’t necessarily know to question these things. In one of my absolute favorite books, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about how we come into this world agreeing to the things in our lives simply because we don’t know any better at the time. Or because we haven’t gotten a chance to see a different way of living. Sometimes these agreements we unconsciously make about how to treat other women come from watching the women around us as we grow up.
Socially Toxic Media
Although that’s not always the case. I don’t particularly think that I saw a whole lot of this growing up. My mother was certainly not in the picture and didn’t teach me this. This is where the power of the media comes in. I remember watching tv shows growing up and seeing the popular girls being absolutely mean to others and only gaining more power and admiration through those behaviors.
I’m thinking of Kate in Lizzie McGuire, Regina George in Mean Girls, Blaire Waldorf in the original Gossip Girl, Ali from Pretty Little Liars, Cheryl from Riverdale… Every villain ever on The Bachelor who got the most screen time and attention for just being mean and cruel. These are all shows marketed for young girls and young women who are still very impressionable and easily influenced by messages in media. It’s teaching women from a young age that power is gained by putting others down – not building each other up.
The Root of the Problem
Really, the root of it for me is society pitting women against each other. Yes, you see that in the media. In all the movie plots and reality shows of women competing for male attention. You see it in society’s standards for women – to look and act a certain way – as if there is only one way to be an attractive or powerful woman. As if anyone else who is different is “less than” or inferior to people who are achieving those almost completely unattainable beauty standards.
And consider both past and modern history. Women have always fought for a seat at a table that was not welcoming or creating much space for them. Whatever little space women do have at any table of power or leadership, is highly competitive to get into – much more than for men.
Empowering Other Women in the Workplace
Coming straight from the Institute of Women’s Leadership at Nichol’s College: Globally, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions. The U.S. lags behind the global average at 21%, compared to China where women hold 51% of senior leadership slots.
Women represent 45% of the S&P 500 workforce, but only 4% of the CEOs.
In a study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded organizations worldwide, 60% have no female board members.
Sense of scarcity
Because men have always had power, preference, and generally just “enough” of everything, women have always felt a sense of scarcity.
I am by no means comparing women to dogs. But just as a reference for the scarcity mindset – consider a dog who lives on the street and doesn’t know when its next meal is coming, when it does get food – it gets food aggressive. Meaning it’s not going to be sharing. Again, not comparing women to dogs. It’s just the first reference that comes to mind because I grew up training and understanding how dogs brains work. And I know how this scarcity mindset feels personally – I grew up seeing and feeling it too.
With this sense of scarcity, women aren’t sharing power, status, attention, help, resources, support, or anything really with one another. Because they fear that it will take away from them if another woman gains. When in reality, there is more than enough for everyone. Unless it’s some rare gem or limited edition product, there really is enough of anything you are likely seeking out. Enough power, enough love, enough money, enough beauty, enough attention, enough of anything you want.
I also think insecurity plays a part in why some women are not empowering other women. If something about the other woman makes them insecure, they won’t empower them because they already feel like the woman is “better” in some way. I say this with all of the love and understanding in my heart. Because as humans, we all experience insecurity in some way, shape, or form. I’ve certainly felt this way around women who exude things that I lack in or feel triggered by personally.
Mean Girls Mentality
I’m sure that this cruelty or bullying we see from women to other women might sometimes be entirely intentional. Really, I went to both public and private high schools – I’ve seen this intentional bullying myself. But I’d like to think that a lot of what we see is not intended to hurt the other person so much as to try to heal or cover up something in the person doing the hurting.
Hurt people hurt people. And I’m going to quote The Four Agreements again (seriously, you need to read this if you haven’t). Don Miguel Ruiz says “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” These hurt people are just projecting their hurt and insecurities onto the women they are trying to bring down. In the hopes that this will somehow make them feel better, have some sense of perceived power, or project an image of someone powerful.
Guilty of Not Empowering Other Women
And I’d bet money that at some point in our lives, we’ve all been guilty of not empowering other women. Or at least considering it. I’ve had my moments in the past and still catch myself occasionally thinking of petty things I can do or say. Although, I am much more self-aware now and can recognize my unhealthy motives behind these things.
It’s really hard to admit and talk about. Especially because the girl in my past who was not empowering other women was suffering from or recovering from some type of abuse. I’m telling you this to acknowledge that it’s normal to have these moments. All of your feelings are valid. It’s what you do with them that matters.
How can we fix this and empower other women?
So what can we do with those feelings, those ingrained beliefs, and learned behaviors? How can we fix this and begin to empower other women like the empowered women that we know we can be? I have 3 simple (yet intentional) steps to help you start rooting in self-compassion and rising into empowerment on your own. Because that change begins within ourselves.
Steps 1 and 2 will be talked about together because they absolutely go hand in hand. We are going to be checking in with ourselves and helping ourselves get “unstuck” in some of the ways that are keeping us from feeling empowered within ourselves. I’ll describe what both of those mean and apply them to real-world experiences.
Check-in with ourselves
This is where my 30+ Journal Prompts to Empower Yourself will really come in handy.
We are checking in with ourselves to find the blockages. Those roadblocks are keeping you from living and being your most empowered self. If you aren’t empowered, there is something within you that is holding you back. And you will not be able to empower other women if you are not feeling empowered within yourself.
We are going to find ways to help ourselves through or around these roadblocks. And we are going to have compassion for ourselves along the way. It’s not easy to acknowledge our faults or struggles. And it’s certainly not easy to make the changes necessary to improve those areas of ourselves that we already don’t like. But you are not alone in this journey!
Let’s apply some real-world experiences to those two steps and see how we can begin to empower ourselves (so we can empower other women).
Lack of Power
Is there somewhere in your life where you feel a lack of power? Maybe this is in a relationship, at work, in parenting, with family, friends, or even just inside of yourself. Consider situations where you might be saying things like “that’s just the way it is”, “that’s just how they are”, “that’s just the way that I am”. Or “there’s nothing i can do about it”.
Sure, we cannot control other people. We cannot control life. But what we can control is how we allow it to impact us and how we respond to it. With other people being “just the way they are”, we can choose what behavior we accept from them. Or don’t accept. We can set boundaries and new expectations for how we are treated.
For situations we don’t feel like we can do anything about, we can choose to find another way to get what we want or a similar alternative to what we want. Or we can choose to accept what is, cope, and move forward for ourselves to gain back our power.
Is there something you feel threatened by or admire in another woman? How can you possibly learn from them? They might be flattered that you’ve asked and are completely happy to help! If you feel uncomfortable asking or talking to them about this, how can you try to channel that energy into your own life?
Please keep in mind this is not meant to be about unhealthy body or beauty standards, toxic relationship dynamics, or aiming to be “better” than someone else. We are aiming to empower ourselves in a way that does not hurt another or that could possibly hurt our physical or mental health.
Now, let’s talk triggers. This is a very vulnerable topic so I’m about to get vulnerable with and for you. I find myself getting triggered by women who are dressing or acting in a way that I perceive as “overtly sexual”. And I’m not proud of this. Really, I claim to be a feminist and all about empowering women and yet I struggle to empower them in their sexuality.
It wasn’t until I discovered that I was triggered by it (and why) that I understood it wasn’t about them, it was about me. You know, the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” line. But it really was. Due to the past sexual abuse that I have shared in previous episodes, I was only seen as a sexual object. And I fear that is how all women are viewed. So when I see someone doing or wearing something that I personally fear would be sexualized, I am triggered.
Logically, I recognize that what women wear or do is not grounds for consent or even really asking for a man’s attention or gaze. Women can wear or do what they want because they feel safe, comfortable, and empowered in their own sexuality. Whereas I feel triggered, fearful, and hurt. They are not wrong. And I am still healing from these traumas. But now I can do it without criticizing another woman, even if it was just in my own head.
Resources for Triggers
Envy, Jealousy, and Competition
Some might argue that this really fits into the scarcity mindset example that I explained earlier. And I mostly agree. But believe it deserves its own category for the small ways that it can feel or look different. Envy, jealousy, and competition come more from a place of wanting to be better or have more than someone else. And not just solely from a place of wanting more for yourself like with the scarcity mindset.
Consider the envy you might feel if… someone fits a beauty standard that you feel you don’t meet? Or has a relationship dynamic that you wish you could have. Maybe you are jealous of how much they have achieved or how much attention they seem to get. Or maybe you feel like you are competing with this person. Whether that is for a real or fictional goal – like a job position vs trying to seem like a better mother.
First, I want you to ask how healthy these feelings are. Yes, they are absolutely valid but are they healthy? Are you striving for something that is attainable for you? Or a beauty standard that is made up and does not align with the beautiful being that you are?
Consider whether or not you are seeing the full reality. It’s so easy to look at someone else’s life, relationships, or success and only see the highlight reels – especially if most of what you see is on social media or on a superficial level. If you understood the intricacies of that thing, you might be able to see the struggles or flaws that surely exist.
And as for the competition, is this real or perceived? If it’s real, how can you find enough value and pride within yourself to not be impacted by the outcome? If you are competing for an image, like to be the perfect mom, best in your field, or anything related to body image, that is perceived. Acknowledge that. Explore that.
We are all uniquely made, uniquely great, and uniquely flawed. Perfect does not exist. Knowing that, we would likely start aiming to just be good enough. And there is space for all to be good enough. In our own unique ways.
How to Empower Yourself
So let’s empower ourselves to feel proud of our individuality. And not feel threatened by any other woman succeeding, being beautiful, or having anything else you desire for yourself.
There is real power in tuning into ourselves to discover our needs. Those needs are always evolving. Being able to identify what your need is right now is a form of self-acknowledgment. It’s meeting yourself where you are at – right now. And being able to fulfill those needs for yourself.
It can be a challenging practice to start, especially if we are so used to putting other people’s needs before our own. I really struggled with this after being in an abusive relationship and again once I became a mother. But turning back to myself and making myself a priority again was incredibly empowering. I have a list of Self-Care Ideas and Activities. It is a way to start discovering and meeting those needs for yourself. You deserve that extra TLC.
Self-love is much different than self-care. It took me a few years to fully understand the difference. Caring for yourself is a form of love. But the act of loving yourself is something much deeper than just your needs. It’s about treating yourself with compassion, gentleness, and love. Just like you would treat a loved one or close friend.
Think about how you speak to a loved one vs how you speak to yourself. We are all our own toughest critics, right? But if you wouldn’t speak to someone you love like that, you should not be speaking to yourself like that. Because you love yourself. Or at least that’s what we are aiming for. Catch yourself when you are being mean to yourself and find ways to use more positive language.
I talked about this in my article on Body Acceptance During Pregnancy. My friend Dusti helped me to reframe my body image struggles during pregnancy to no longer saying my belly was “big” or “huge” and starting to say it was a “healthy” belly. Because it really was healthy for my belly to grow. Finding little ways to be gentle and more compassionate with ourselves through language can really begin to improve our relationship with ourselves.
Along those same lines, compliment yourself daily! Every time you see a mirror, give yourself a compliment. This can be a physical compliment, such as “I love my eyes” or “my hair looks really great today”. But I encourage you to dive deeper than that. Compliment your work ethic, the value you offer to others, or another trait you love about yourself. Focus more on the amazing things you offer to the world and less on how you show up in the world – although that’s still ok from time to time.
If you find yourself struggling to compliment yourself every time you see a mirror or you are avoiding mirrors altogether like I did after giving birth to my first baby, consider a gratitude practice. I shared my Daily Gratitude Practice which includes giving yourself three compliments each day. If that’s the only time you compliment yourself, that’s still likely more than you are doing now. I’ll take that as a win.
Use Your Voice
Speak Up. The act of finding your voice can be incredibly challenging, especially if you’ve endured some trauma in your life. And the act of using your voice can be even more challenging. But we love a good challenge, right? It helps to build our confidence and shows us how capable we are.
Even if you start all alone, even if you start with a whisper, even if your voice shakes, start speaking up. It’s a practice, a muscle that we need to strengthen with routine and intentional effort. When I think about this, I immediately think about the game, The Sims. And how your little Sims character gains points in charisma by speaking to themselves in the mirror. It feels silly at first, but a lot of people actually do this before giving speeches or speaking in public. I mean… hey, don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Set a Boundary
Another uncomfortable practice if you have consistently put others needs before your own is setting boundaries. But you deserve to have boundaries. Boundaries can be incredibly healthy – both for us and our own mental health and for others and our relationship with them. So whether this boundary is with someone else, with your work hours, or with yourself – set a boundary where you feel you are lacking in one.
The act of identifying where you need a boundary, acknowledging what you deserve, and setting that boundary is empowering in itself. By not having boundaries, you are handing over your power to others. You are allowing others’ needs to come before your own. But in putting yourself first and setting appropriate boundaries, you are taking your power back. And notice I said your power. Boundaries are set in place for you – and not to take away or manipulate another person.
Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Another amazing way to empower yourself is by setting realistic goals for yourself. Ones that you can easily achieve each day or each week. With every goal you achieve, your pride and sense of accompaniment rises. You begin to see what you are capable of. And you build your confidence up.
I shared actionable steps that you can take for small and large goals in my article on Continued Personal Growth in New Years Resolutions. Even if you are nowhere near that new year when you are reading to this go check it out, it is about goals that you set throughout the year and steps you can take to make them happen – small or large.
Find Your Passion or Joy in Life
The more you live in your passion or joy, the more fulfilled you will feel. Consider the person that you want to be. I have Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery for you to dive deeper into this vision. But ask yourself what would you do as that person you want to be? How would you show up in the world?
Now start making steps each day to be that person. I have an entire article with steps to help you Follow Your Dreams. I don’t want to shift the focus of this one, so go check that out after this.
Be your biggest fan. Cheer yourself on as you accomplish goals. And celebrate every win – no matter how small it is. Got out of bed on a day you felt depressed? Celebrate it. Had a difficult conversation you wanted to avoid but know needed to happen? Celebrate it. Remembered to take your medicine or water the plants? Celebrate it. Those are all just as worthy of celebration as bigger accomplishments.
Worry About Yourself
You know you are doing this right when you are so focused on yourself, that you don’t have the time to spend picking apart other women or trying to bring them down. Because you are directing that energy towards building yourself up. It’s filling your own empowerment cup which can then finally start to pour over into building other women up.
How can we empower other women?
Look for the Good in Others
Once we feel more empowered ourselves, it’s much more comfortable to look for the good in other women. We are no longer threatened by it. And we don’t feel “less than” for them having something we perceive as “good”. Looking for the good in others is a wonderful place to start empowering other women. But we also need to act on that.
Acknowledge Other Women
We can do that by simply acknowledging other women. Most people want to be acknowledged. Even if it’s not in some loud or grand way. It’s nice to have someone recognize the effort we’ve put into anything – our outfits, our work, our parenting, our homes.
If you notice something you like or admire about them, whether it’s their outfit, their energy, or something they said – acknowledge it. I compliment strangers all of the time. If I notice something about them that I like or admire, I’m absolutely telling them. Not only does this put more good into the world, but a lot of times it opens up a conversation and can lead to a moment of bonding. Just warm fuzzy feelings all around.
Support Other Women
Offer your support. Be generous with them. Share resources, contacts, information, tips, advice, or wisdom. Help build them up and lift them up a little higher in life. Another woman’s success is not your failure. You probably want that same level of support in life, right? For someone to come and offer you a leg up to where you are trying to go. Be that for someone else. Karma will come back around and help you out, I can promise you that. This is what it looks like to empower other women.
Stand Up for Women
Speak up when you see women being mistreated. Empower other women to have a voice. Protect them and their mental health. A lot of times, women feel scared to speak up for themselves. Of course, this is not all women, but a lot of them do in certain circumstances. Maybe they don’t feel safe speaking up. Or maybe they’ve gotten so used to being ignored, trampled over, or having low enough self-worth they don’t feel they deserve to have a voice. Encourage their voice and stand up for them when needed.
Help Women Up
If you see another woman fall or fail, help them. Don’t sit there in amusement or be glad you aren’t the one suffering. When one woman falls, we all fall. Help her get back up. Offer her assistance. Comfort her. You don’t need to be besties with her to respect her in a time of need. Or to empower other women.
Celebrate Other Womens’ Success
Be happy for their wins. When one woman wins, we all win. Again, another woman’s success is not your failure. There is enough success, love, money, or power for all of us. To quote our queen T.Swift, “We all know now, we’ve all got crowns.“
You get a crown, I get a crown, we all get crowns.
Let’s make a promise moving forward to start empowering other women. Let’s lift other women up and stop tearing them down. What can you do today to empower someone else? Even if it’s just starting with my journal prompts for empowering yourself, that’s a wonderful place to start empowering other women.
You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Check out these articles:
- Stop Playing Small & Start Living Authentically
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- Overcoming Perfectionism & Being “Good Enough”
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