I used to be very competitive. Far too competitive most would say. People didn't want to play games with me because I would get mean about it. I was a sore loser, and a sore winner, so afterward I was always either gloating or pouting. This hard truth about myself was brought to my attention many years ago, and I began to make strides to change how I responded to actual or perceived competition.
Today I had a lovely conversation with a client about having a competitive nature, and that got me thinking about my own journey and how I learned to be competitive in a healthy way.
Here's the thing, I don't believe that competition is a bad thing. It allows us to be challenged, to become better, and to do greater things. Many of our greatest accomplishments can come out of competition. The problem with competition, or a competitive nature is how many of us learn it. We are taught to strive to be better than everyone else. We must outdo, outshine, outsmart, outwit... That is where we have gone wrong
The only person you should compete with is yourself (and even then it is alright if you don't win)!
In order to have healthy competition, I believe we need to stop comparing ourselves with others, and instead compare ourselves to where we have been. I have a wonderful yoga teacher who has helped to reinforce this idea. It is quite amazing to see the change in people who take her class. Many people start out by looking at other people and seeing their own weaknesses in other's strengths, but my teacher has a way of making them feel good about themselves and excited about their own progress that encourages them to rejoice in their own victories rather than see how they do or do not measure up to someone else's. What helps even more is that when one of us has a victory, we ALL rejoice in it. This helps to instill a healthy form of competition, one with our past selves rather than each other.
When we try to push ourselves past our own personal limits, we often cause more harm than good. There are very few people and very few things which can have extraordinary change overnight. If you are wanting to start mountain climbing, you shouldn't start with Everest. If you want to run a marathon, you shouldn't go from 0-26 miles in a day. So much of our own greatness is something that must be worked toward. If we try to start off at 110%, we are just setting ourselves up for failure, and potential injury.
When we strive to be just a little bit better than we were the day before, that is where we begin to see the healthiest kind of growth. No one should try to live up to being someone else, just to being their own best self. Sometimes we won't make it, and that is okay too, because we can try again the next day. I believe that this sort of healthy competition applies to nearly everything from sports to school work, to our careers. Be your best self, and you will grow to be one of the best.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.