Friday, April 27, 2012

Fear is NOT a Factor for You...Or Is It?

Since Girl Power Hour is in the middle of their 3rd Annual Mind-Body Challenge  I thought tackling the large phantom force of fear would be very appropriate.
Fear takes different forms for each of us. Some of us pretend we are not afraid of anything and others can’t make a move without finding something that scares them. I, perhaps like you, am somewhere in-between.
I came to this conclusion after seeing a commercial for the new season of Fear Factor a few months back. Fear Factor has always been a show that I have a hard time watching. And despite it’s reappearance on NBC this year, I still have yet to watch a single episode.
Bear in mind, this has nothing to do with Joe Rogan. How could it? He is a stand-up comedian, UFC host, and co-producer of the documentary, DMT: The Spirit Molecule (which highlights the potent psychedelic compound found in nearly every living organism); Who is this guy?! Obviously, not a scaredy-cat.
Unlike me, I can’t watch the show mainly because it’s scary. Yes, I am afraid of Fear Factor. In light of that confession, it is obvious that I could never eat a snake while underwater with my ankles tied to an eel-infested shark tank.
But do you know what scares me more than snake tartar in an eel-laden pool?  Letting people down.
OK, I know. This may sound like one of the biggest mistakes in the nice-girl handbook (especially in mine) How can we expect to get anywhere successfully if we care what other people think about us? But, this isn’t about being a pushover or wanting to impress others, instead it is about learning the importance of saying what’s on our minds when we have the chance to say it. Missing moments to do so can result in a whole underworld of misunderstanding.
I recently missed a moment of truth that led to a misunderstanding between a friend. This experience left me wondering what is worse? Being disliked or being unlikable?
While that may sound a little bit like the ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ ideology, here is what I mean. Being disliked is unavoidable- there are always going to be people that won’t like you regardless of what you have or haven’t done. Becoming unlikable happens when you change who you are or what you know to be right in order to avoid a conflict. Being intentional about every word we say (or don’t say) is a big part of becoming better women.
Fear of man (or woman) fuels a propensity to become chameleons. And while that skill is wonderful for Joe Rogan and many other names on the Hollywood walk of fame- it doesn’t serve us well in the reality of interpersonal one-on-one relationships. Stick to one skin- the one you are in.
Never fear being disliked- only fear making yourself unlikable by withholding the whole truth. Being true to you always outweighsbeing someone else for appearances.
Whether it is your health, your body, or your mind- don’t be afraid of becoming the absolute best version of you possible. Keep in mind that you may need to go through a few revisions to get it right. You 2.0? Totally legit.
PS- In my estimation, it is OK to fear snakes, eels and sharks (or a combo of all 3) That’s just common sense.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jolie vs. Jennifer and Other Pointless Comparisons

Yes, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally engaged according to The New York Post and many other sources as of last Friday. And no, Jennifer Aniston doesn’t care.

The ongoing tabloid tirade between Jolie and Jennifer has entertained most of us for the last seven years. In-between sprints on the treadmill and sips at Starbucks, more than a few of us have given way to turning pages dedicated to the tousle between these two. We have painted this dueling duo as the pout-lipped temptress vs. the unsuspecting good wife. However, the subsequent question always follows; how could Brad Pitt love such seemingly different women?

Maybe they aren’t all that different from one another. Sure, one is the cheated and one is the cheater- but who’s keeping track? (Sorry, I guess I am on Team Aniston)

But in all honesty, I could care less about the love triangle going on. What intrigues me is the comparison game between Hollywood’s ‘bad girl’ and Hollywood’s ‘good girl’. Jolie and Aniston provide a clear portrait of a real and present problem with modern-day female interaction. Both of these woman represent the constant pull between two polar opposite female personalities on the spectrum of friendship and foe.

One woman appears to be sunny, outgoing and BFF-ish. The other is stunning, intriguingly talented, and too sexy for her slit (Oh come on we’ve all seen Jolie’s awkward Oscar stance, right?) Sure, Jolie is a UN Refugee Envoy, but still the tabloids can’t seem to get past the Pitt husband-stealing thing. And Aniston has had a string of beaus and is now happy and (perhaps prego?) with Theroux.

The take-away from their tabloid popularity is this: it isn’t about them. It’s about us.

No matter where you fall in the spectrum of good girl vs. bad girl- we can not ignore the cache of comparisons we subject ourselves to on a daily basis. Maybe we aren’t comparing ourselves to Hollywood starlets, but a lot of women run headlong into comparisons with colleagues, friends, and foes; the masochist and the ego-head alike.

Comparison alone (without stress, financial trouble, love-life lulls, etc.) can cause isolation and insecurity. It can also cause us to demean ourselves and ultimately, become depressed. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. are suffering from depression. While there are many other factors present in the diagnoses of depression comparing ourselves unfairly to one another? It certainly can’t be helping.

My mom has always told me that comparing myself to anyone else is like trying to squeeze a glass of orange juice from a rock. Pointless. The beauty of being a woman is how multifaceted we all are. Angelina and Jennifer have both struggled in the love department and they have both had amazing careers. They are just different kinds of the same. Just as you and I.

I know what you’re thinking. Is this another bite-your-tongue-and-be-friends-with-everyone blog? Nope.

I understand that there is no way that every woman can be friends with every woman. There are certain reasons and common interests that allow us to click with some ladies and not with others- (note: lack of morality and modesty is a legitimate reason to nix happy-hour). Regardless of commonalities, there is a danger in comparing ourselves to someone else- to anyone else. Especially if the goal is to make ourselves feel better or worse than them. If we begin counting any woman as unimportant or less valuable (including ourselves), we are collectively lowering our own self worth simultaneously along with theirs.

One of the first books ever written in the history of the world was by a missionary and saint named Paul. He puts it this way. “We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.”

And that’s the root of the root. If we spend too much mental energy comparing ourselves with others we will have missed the point. Instead of competing in battles we can not win with one another, we should be each other’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

You don’t have to give a round of applause to the girl who stole your job by lying about her resume qualifications or the woman who is spreading lies about you around the office to get a promotion. Those aren’t the type of women you need in your life. Instead, take a cue from Aniston herself. If you happen to have an ‘Angelina Jolie’ in your life- do the good girl thing and go on living your life- fully. Happiness is reserved for those who don’t allow someone else to dictate who they are.

“Once you figure out who you are and what you love about yourself, I think it all kinda falls into place.” – Jennifer Aniston

Photo Courtesy of: La Baguette Magique