"She's doing that for attention."
"She probably doesn't eat."
"She has good genetics."
These were just a few of the sentences that would go through my head daily. If I saw a female in the fitness industry demonstrating an exercise in just a sports bra, I immediately judged her as, "attention-seeking." If I saw a woman walking down the street who was very lean, I would instantly think, "she probably never eats."
I have never considered myself a malicious or hurtful person, but the thoughts I was having about other women were starting to make me wonder if maybe I had just been lying to myself about being a nice person all these years. Looking back it's very clear why I would have these thoughts. I was jealous - but not necessarily in the way you would think. I was jealous because these women were confident. Sure they may have also had physical features that I desired for myself, but that wasn't what drove me to have these negative thoughts.
The reality was that when I would see another confident female, it would make me immediately wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn't I love my body too? Why couldn't I feel confident in my own skin? But instead of addressing these issues with myself, it was easier to pawn off my own self-hatred onto other women. Instead of sitting with those difficult thoughts such as, "why can't I love my body?" (which would have been a much longer, deeper conversation with myself than I ever felt like having) I took the easy way out. Letting my thoughts drift to "she's just showing off" was an easier pill for me to swallow.
When I finally recognized what was going on, I worked on shifting my internal dialogue toward other women. What I found was that doing so actually helped me to address some of my own self-worth issues. When I would catch myself saying some of the aforementioned not-so-nice sentences, I would ask myself why I was having that thought. Inevitably it was my own insecurities, and I would allow myself to sit with that. Sometimes just recognizing that I was doing this helped me to reflect and take some time to work on myself rather than silently tear other women down for having the confidence that I craved. Eventually it became natural to applaud - rather than judge - women for displaying confidence and for feeling good in their own skin.
After years of working on this, I can now look at another female and think, "she's really beautiful," or "she's so strong" without letting it affect how I feel about myself.
It was extremely difficult to recognize that I was being negative toward other women in the first place, especially since I've always considered myself a feminist and someone who wants women to succeed in every way! It was definitely not easy to accept that this was how my mind was working, but I'm so glad that I did, and that I have taken the time to work on reprogramming it!
To all my confident women out there, you're amazing! Thank you for inspiring me to be better. To my women who are struggling with self-confidence - I see you. And I hope that my story can provide some hope for you that change is possible, and that you can allow yourself to feel good without comparing yourself to others!