Category: Inspired Mind Views: 2483
Though I don’t really love to admit to it, I’m a pretty competitive person. It’s funny because I’m not overtly competitive, but the Scorpio within me often feels driven towards competition, comparison, and striving to come out on top. It’s a quality that’s honestly not my favorite, but just like anything else I learn from it, I grow from it, and I’m constantly working through it.
When I was a kid, I played tennis competitively. I was a skilled player from a young age. I had the technique and physical capability, but at that time my mental game was completely messed up, and this ultimately lead to the demise of my tennis career.
I would let the competition, the comparison, and the rankings, completely get the best of me. If I had an off day or if I made a mistake, I would tank. Matches felt so difficult for me because I constantly felt massive pressure to win, and when that didn’t happen, it was incredibly challenging to overcome the emotions that went along with that. So much so, I even threw my racket a handful of times in fits of anger. Though it’s completely inappropriate, the mental image I have of young Michelle tossing a racket for missing a shot makes me laugh.
I will never forget the many lectures I received from my parents and coaches alike, trying to teach me the importance of sportsmanship and the value of losing, gracefully. I would feel so embarrassed and ashamed when I’d have to sit through these lectures, because deep down I knew it didn’t feel good to live in that space, but at that time it felt so difficult to manage.
Ultimately my competitive nature and inability to really cope with it all led me to leave the sport. When it became clear that I wasn’t going to be the next Serena Williams, I decided to follow other dreams, but to this day I wonder what could have unfolded if my mental game had been as finely tuned as the physical.
Over time the nature of my need to compete and compare has changed. While I no longer strive to win matches, I find that my competitive nature seeps into my life, both professionally and personally. Which truthfully, feels even worse than the whole racket throwing thing.
Self-imposed adult competition and comparison is a pretty destructive habit. It not only makes you feel less than and unworthy, but it also drives wedges between us humans who are just trying to do our best every day. But I know that I’m not the only one who falls into the game. Society feeds us the necessity of competition, instills the value of being on top of any game, and now, with social media, comparison feels like second nature.
While I would love to be able to write this post and say that I no longer allow competition and comparison to be apart of my life, it’s simply just not true. I still have moments from time to time where I’ll catch myself, in fact I had a moment this past week where I was comparing myself to a peer.
Luckily, I’m more equipped to handle this pesky habit than I was back in my tennis days. As with most habits, having an awareness of it’s presence is the best first step towards finding a solution, and in case you need some reminders from time to time to break you competitive urges, I’ve compiled a list of ones that have always been beneficial to me:
1. Staying in your own lane will always get you where you want to go. We all have unique purposes and paths in this life. Focus on what you are here to do, and allow others to do the same.
2. Comparing yourself to others distracts you from the work that you are here to do.
3. By cultivating gratitude for what you’ve already accomplished and for all that you are will help you to be and achieve that much more.
4. Remember that other people’s successes don’t take away from your own possibilities.
5. You don’t have to compete with anyone (not even yourself) to be successful, valid, and worthy in this world.
I would love to hear your experiences with comparison and competition! How do you best manage both in your day-to-day lives?
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!
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