Years ago, a pretty woman in her twenties, approached me after I finished a bellydance show and asked me if she could ask me an unusual question. I must interject here that after I perform, I consistently receive an unbelievable assortment of questions and compliments: hilarious, flattering, way-too-personal, rude, and repetitive—you name it, I’ve heard it. I try my darndest to be polite and utter a quick thank-you but I often use one of my worn-out comebacks that I should really retire. I am aware that bellydance is provocative and some people are unsure of an appropriate response. But I digress…
She sheepishly asked me how old I was, but there was something odd in the way she asked me. I quickly assessed the situation and found that her boyfriend was sitting at their table watching us, waiting. I told her I was 26 and asked her, “Why?” She replied, “We have a bet. I said you were over 30.” She flippantly added a non-convincing, “You dance really well.” “Thanks,” I said and knew immediately that was definitely NOT a compliment. She walked back to her table and I filed it in my mind as, “Bitch” and let it go – or so I thought.
The ‘compliment’ she paid me reverberated throughout the night. During my second show, I shimmied right over to her and defiantly danced on top of her table. My mind alternated between doubting my dance ability, my looks and thinking she was a jealous tramp. I ranted on and on about it to another dancer as I entered the dressing room (also known as the broom closet). After I changed into my green cocktail dress, my bellydancer friend said that I looked good in green. I felt demeaned by the other woman and these kind words caught me off guard. Feeling confused and worried that I would be perceived as arrogant I quickly deflected her flattering remark with, “Really? I think it would look better on your complexion.”
I woke up with a philosophical hangover. It was only recently that I had created my company GoddessLife to empower women. I couldn’t coalesce my incongruous behavior from the previous night with GoddessLife’s message. I just finished filming my first Goddess Workout DVD and was teaching women-only classes. Up until then, my focus was to help women embrace their femininity and give them permission and a safe haven to move their bodies in a sensual way. These are still essential and vital aspects of GoddessLife. But I discovered there was more to add to the lifestyle. It was crucial that I address the importance of the unkind way women compare, compliment and compete with each other
That next morning, I wrote down:
I will learn how to give really good compliments that really make other women feel better about them selves.
I want to accept graciously when I receive a compliment. I don’t want to feel that I need to apologize as my reply to a compliment in fear that I will be considered conceited. I want to connect with the generosity of the person who's offered one!
Over time, I witnessed and learned more about the complexities of women’s relationships. I worked to create community at my studio. I enforced a supportive, no-gossiping, no self-criticizing policy. It had a significant effect on my students. They shared with me that these ideals began to spill out of confines of The Goddess Center and into their personal lives. They realized their friends, neighbors and co-workers were not their competition but that they, too, were Goddesses.
This philosophy became a cornerstone of GoddessLife.
It's easy to stay aloof from other women so you don't feel judged.But I recommend that you rise above any petty issues and reach out to other women. You'll find doors opening all around you as women soften and open up to you. A good way to start is by complimenting the women around you. Women often pay a flattering remark to complete strangers for their fashion sense with saying, “Nice purse, dress, shoes.” What if we took feminine attribute of kindness into other areas of our complex lives?
How about saying:
You inspire me
I trust your judgment
Your happiness is contagious
You're really good at your job
You've got great ideas
You have a beautiful spirit
You’re a good mother
You are brave
You have great abs
Try this Rx: Pay one woman a compliment per day for one week.
If you have trouble with this prescription, try writing down the best compliment you ever received. Allow the recognition to sink in and enjoy! Now that you have connected to the positive feelings you had, let it inspire you to give to another.
Known side effects of this Rx:
When you begin to see and acknowledge themany magnificent qualities in other women, you will begin to see them in yourself, building your confidence.
Giving a compliment can result in pleasurable feelings to giver and receiver.