Life often seems like one big competition. It starts young. As children we compare ourselves to siblings, classmates, and friends. As we grow older it gets worse. We see images in the media of flawless celebrities with red carpet wardrobes; we notice neighbors with fancy cars. It’s hard not to compare yourself to those around you and want the same things too.
Competition is a sensitive beast. It can be a healthy way to motivate change and achieve personal goals, but it can also trigger feelings of inadequacy and in some cases lead to depression or anger.
Keep yourself in check by drawing attention to your motivation.
- What do I want from this situation?
- How will competing benefit me?
- Am I choosing to compete due to pressure from others?
- If I lose will I become angry or depressed?
Answering these questions can help you determine whether or not your instinct to compete is healthy. This self-awareness may even help minimize feelings of jealousy toward others.
Compete With Yourself
If your competitive nature causes friction with those around you, turn inward. Work is one setting where competition can create problems. Several employees may vie for the same promotion or trip over each other trying to prove their worth.
You can tune out the external noise, however, by focusing on yourself. Find ways to improve your own performance that align with your team goals. Competing with yourself can be less stressful and promote a healthier approach to work. If you set yourself up to do the best possible job you can each day, you have no one else to blame for your successes or failures.
Observe Without Judgment
On the flip side, when you see others achieve big things, learn to observe without judgment. Competitive people have the tendency to judge from the sidelines. In sports, for example, an out-of-balance Pitta may heckle from the sidelines and get worked up over a missed play. This type of negative reaction carries over into everyday life. Maybe your spouse spent hours cleaning the entire house but all you can see are the things he or she did wrong; you can’t help thinking you would have done it better. This judgment is unhealthy for you and those around you.
When you have nothing to do with the task at hand, check yourself and try to respond in a positive way instead of a competitive way.
The bottom line: Competition can be fun and produce positive results. The trick is to meet the challenge with self-awareness and positivity.