These husbands care about their wives, but don’t know what to do when their wife constantly berates herself or feels low self-worth. These women constantly compare themselves to other women and just don’t measure up. We refer to it as “Comparison Sickness.”
Not only do the men not know what to do about it, neither do the women. They see it in themselves. They can’t stand it when they become so self-critical—but they continue doing it. Sometimes it started in middle school. By the time they are adults, they get triggered by almost anything: their son brings home a “D” grade in 4th grade math. “I’m a failure as a mother.” Their daughter gets caught shoplifting. “I’m such a terrible parent.”
We started interviewing women on this subject. We held focus groups with women and asked them why they are so hard on themselves. We started seeing repeating patterns with almost all women that we interviewed: somewhere along the line, as a child, they began to see themselves as inferior. They constantly compared their worst with someone else’s best. We saw a lot of unfairness in the comparisons: women compared themselves with somebody like Mother Teresa or Marjorie Hinckley and felt immediately inferior. We men compare ourselves with somebody like Adolf Hitler and we come off “smelling like a rose”!
After 3 years of research into the subject, and interviewing hundreds of women, we wrote a book on the whole issue. It’s called “I Am More Than Enough: Helping Women Silence Their Inner Critic and Celebrate Their Inner Voice.” (Go to www.iammorethanenough.org for more information.) Writing the book was fascinating. We learned volumes from women regarding why they do to themselves what they do. We learned, by their own admissions, that there seems to be a “default setting” in them that leads them to have a very poor self-image. Part One of the book paints the picture of what women are doing to themselves: the lies they tell themselves about themselves. Part Two of the book gives them 12 tools that they can use everyday to rescue themselves from jumping into “The Funnel.”
What is the “The Funnel”? This was a term many women in our focus groups told us about. They may be having a wonderful day—everything is going perfectly—until they somehow get triggered: the dress that used to fit, the fatigue, the new haircut, the mother-in-law, the failed diet. And the biggest one: the mirror. At that point they jump in the downward-spiraling funnel and end up in, as many women called it, their “dark place.” Triggers are always based on some event from your past.
The 12 tools are ways of combating the triggers and funnels of life. And they work. If a woman will even use one or two of the tools it can make a huge difference in how she begins to see herself. Women who have read the book have said things like, “Where was this book 30 years ago when I needed it?” and “I’m going to give this book to each of my daughters so they don’t do to themselves what I’ve been doing all these years.”
This is a serious issue. Women who have low self-esteem, low self-image, or low self-worth—call it whatever you want—they all start with “low self.” If that is perpetuated throughout a woman’s life, she is likely to be depressed and fatigued, and certainly not functioning up to her potential.
If you would like to read the first couple chapters of the book, go to www.iammorethanenough.org and you can get a more in depth look at the whole issue. You can see that the truth is: you are indeed more than enough.
Dr. Robert Jones is the Clinic Director at the Utah Wellness Institute in Draper, Utah. (801) 576 -1155