“She can’t, or she won’t. Regardless, she doesn’t.”
These were the pained words my client uttered while sobbing, struggling to comprehend why her supposedly close friend of many years refused to acknowledge any of her recent accomplishments. My client was completely mystified and heartbroken. In that instant, I felt my chest ache and my breath catch. I knew and have felt similar trauma in friendship. It’s excruciating.
Women’s friendships and connections have the power to be incredibly comforting, supportive, and magical. When able to truly stand behind and celebrate each other, women create fierce forces of transformation. To have a friend who believes in you without a doubt and expresses this openly, especially when you’re experiencing success — this is a gift beyond measure. We spread our wings even farther under this kind of glow.
I believe that as women, we grow exponentially to the degree that we can ask for and receive support from others. I bet you’ll agree, dear Sisters — we all massively benefit from having special women in our lives who aren’t threatened by our victories, and who also won’t distance when we struggle.
However, as with my client above, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Sometimes, we look down from a successful mountain climb only to discover the friend we trusted, the one who would always be there rooting for us, has disappeared.
What Makes It Hard
I’ve always been curious about what contributes to the difficulty for some women to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of friends. Competition, for instance, is highly encouraged in our society, and often between women. Magazines, media, and modern culture communicate that one “should” always reach for more — a more beautiful body, tighter skin, nicer clothes, a better relationship, or up-leveled career. As women strive toward success, culturally-driven comparisons too frequently result in feelings of insecurity, sadness, inadequacy, or low self-esteem.
For women who perceive their own cup to be half-empty, the likelihood of being able to celebrate a friend’s talent or achievement dims dramatically. From this negative vantage point, complimenting a friend’s win is much less natural. How sad, yes? Comparing oneself to others all too often fuels feelings of dissatisfaction, jealousy, and bitterness. For there will always be someone you can find who will be — in your opinion — doing more, creating better, producing faster, looking grander. Personal comparisons typically lead us into a shit-storm of envy and despair. So, I warn my coaching clients: don’t go there.
A second reason I believe it’s hard for certain women to recognize other women’s accomplishments has to do with what author Pat Heim termed the “power dead-even rule.” This is a subconscious rule that, unfortunately, damages relationships, power, and self-esteem. “The self-esteem and power of one, must be, in the eyes of each woman, similar in weight to the self-esteem and power of the other,” Heim wrote. In other words, dead-even.
If this balance shifts — for instance, with one person rising in career status — then other women may belittle, ghost, or ostracize the rising star. This behavior is an invisible process many are unaware of, yet deeply hurt by. It’s dysfunctional behavior aimed at trying to maintain one’s sense of equilibrium and “OK-ness.” Instead, previously healthy, strong, significant relationships can be destroyed by this.
Empowering Yourself and Your Friends
There are a multitude of ways we can support and champion ourselves and our female friends. If comparing has been your game and nemesis, why not instead of pitting yourself against another friend’s brilliance, compare who you were yesterday to who you are today. Challenge yourself a bit each day to step further into the direction you wish to grow. Move toward your vision from the inside out. Focus on yourself. Put your attention there. Walk those couple extra blocks, read that next chapter, listen to a new self-development podcast, create that next masterpiece! Turn your sweet, nurturing energy, first and foremost, onto you own glorious evolution.
There is no need to measure our worth against others. Absolutely nothing good comes from this. Instead, stay the path, love yourself, and celebrate heading more and more in the direction of your highest purpose and biggest dream. When we can cheer ourselves on, we are more filled up, internally satisfied — and then, of course, better able to cheer on our friends as well.
Rooting for our friends then becomes infectious, with the benefits of offering genuine support multiplying tenfold. When you believe in and care about a friend’s progress, you are letting them know that you truly see them, wish them well, and want them to rise. And it’s a funny thing: when others triumph, so do you!
The law of attraction kicks into full gear, drawing into our own lives that which we carry in thought. Think and feel loving and supportive of a friend’s success and prosperity, and surprise-of-surprises, watch your own achievements grow as well. That’s not even to mention the heart expansion and powerful feelings of connection that manifest when we witness and truly celebrate a friend’s positive outcome. Even the most accomplished of women you know — those friends who appear to have it all figured out — even these brilliant, sweet souls need your support, and deeply appreciate it.
Deeper Bonds and Unexpected Riches
The process of recognizing a friend’s superstar moment can’t help but nourish the relationship and depth of your bond. Lasting friendships are built on trust and the feeling of truly being seen, known, and understood. When you witness a friend’s thriving, you honor them. Their crown shines brighter, and so does yours!
Generosity of spirit is a compelling force, and always raises our energetic frequency and ability to have incredible impact in the world. A woman who can powerfully honor, love, and support another in her full glory is a strong woman. So, why not be the kind of woman who offers this beautiful gift to a friend? For another woman’s happiness, beauty, or success cannot, in any way, dilute your own — unless you let it. Attitude is everything. Go big, not small, in the cheering section. Watch your friendships, and yourself, thrive there!
This article was also published in The Brick Magazine.