Too often, women feel a sense of competition with other women and tear each other down instead of supporting each other. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing my dear friend, and a genuine inspiration to me and countless others, Caroline Adams Miller, an expert in, among other things, utilizing positive psychology research to help people find success, and how we as women can support and uplift each other.
When Caroline was young she struggled with competition with other women. Her awareness of unhealthy competition among women continued over the years, and as she spoke with more and more women, she learned that every women seems to have had experiences of other women tearing them down or engaging in forms of unhealthy competitiveness with them.
There are many reasons why women engage in this unhealthy competition with each other. For some, it’s driven by jealousy. For others it’s scarcity theory, the fear that there’s only “one seat at the table,” or that there isn’t enough success to go around. For others it might have a cause rooted in evolutionary biology. And for others, watching another woman go after her dreams in a big way triggers FOMO, a Fear Of Missing Out.
Caroline shares research that says that 84% of women confess to being surrounded by “frenemies,” friends who are really enemies, and women often keep these people around out of fear of standing out and standing up for themselves. But keeping them in your life is a huge danger, because they bring you down and make it much more likely that you’ll give up on going after your dreams. Research by Shelly Gable at UCLA on Active Constructive Responding teaches us that the way people around us respond to us greatly increases the chances that we’ll abandon our goals or interpret our progress as negative. We need to be much more selective and intentional about who we allow into our “inner circle.” The people who are “in” should be the people who are enthusiastic about our dreams, our goals, and our ideas.
We also discuss Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, and what we can learn from it about giving to others, and the concept of “relational grit,” which Caroline and Lee Waters, the current president of the International Positive Psychology Association, have come up with.
Caroline and I are both huge supporters of dialogue with other like-minded women, participation in masterminds to uplift each other and support each other’s efforts towards goals, and we talk about the importance of developing these support systems.
As Caroline learned more about this issue she eventually came to the point where she decided that talking about it wasn’t enough; she needed to DO something about it! So she came up with a multi-pronged approach drawing on Shelly Gable’s research on Active Construcive Responding and on Peter Gollwitzer’s work on implementation intentions (which involves creating if-then scenarios to prompt you to do things that are difficult for you).
Caroline has created a simple way for women to uplift other women, which she calls Share 2 To 2. Every week, Caroline shares the successes of two women, each on two different social media platforms, and she uses the hashtag, #Share222. She often doesn’t know the women she uplifts personally; she finds them on LinkedIn, or on some other platform, and shares their successes with others. She firmly believes that by uplifting other women and highlighting their successes, there will be more women at the table in positions of authority, and there will be less of an effect of scarcity theory, less fear from some women of other women succeeding, and it will be a positive spiral.
I end with a few Purpose Power Tips, including learning about Active Constructive Responding, using the hastag #Share222, and “I’ll have what she’s having!”
Click here to learn more about the summit in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2019, in which Caroline will be participating with the founder of Appreciative Inquiry as they explore, using the tools of positive psychology, how women can uplift and inspire other women in the best possible ways.
To learn more about Shelly Gable’s work on Active Constructive Responding, here’s an article summarizing it, and here’s her original research.
To learn more about Caroline, go to CarolineMiller.com, and for more background into #Share222, take a look at her LinkedIn articles on it. And check out some her books: Getting Grit, Creating Your Best Life, and My Name Is Caroline.
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May you live purposefully, may you love yourself, and may you love life.
Bye for now!
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