Are You Tired of Competing?
When it comes to competing with others, a little healthy competition can be a good thing. It’s often the spark that lights one’s fiery motivation or makes giving up seem like a non- option. All good things, right?
Unfortunately I don’t think our society today embraces just healthy competition alone. In fact, I believe that competition and the pressure to ‘succeed,’ is one of the key causes of stress among young people. Just think for a second about all the ways in which you are competing or have competitive natured thoughts throughout your day. Perhaps at work or school, you are consistently pushing yourself to surpass the efforts of those around you. We grew up in a society and academic system that rewards competition, winning, and being the best.
I’m not the type of person that believes we should get rid of score keeping at kids’ soccer games or abolish contests of all kinds. Teaching young minds that you need to work hard for things and that you can’t always get what you want are key to creating well rounded humans. What I am arguing though, is that we need to equip young people with tools for stress management, self compassion, and an understanding that a competitive mindset is suitable for some settings but not all.
If young adults are in an education stream that requires them to compete against classmates for the one job at graduation or for one of two spots in that masters program, it’s likely that the folks involved are going to be under a lot of stress. Then to top it off, I often hear stories about young workplaces where the mentality is to stay late or you’re not working hard enough; make the most sales or you aren’t as committed as everyone else. A ‘me against them’ mindset is developed even among teams that should be working together instead of divided.
Just as soon as you thought you had ditched the race to be the best, you’re back in a space where coming in at the top is rewarded.
And then in our social lives, we face strange elements of competition as well. Seeking validation via ‘likes’ and ‘followers.’ Marking our success with numbers of anonymous approval instead of real human to human connection. We feel rated, commented on, and constantly trying to portray ourselves in the most appealing way.
It’s an easy place to lost sight of yourself.
What are you competing for? Are you looking for ways to join forces with those around you or rise up as a champion while having left everyone behind? Frankly, I’m sick of this mindset and have set out to create spaces that are loving and non-competitive. Through meditation and deciding to change my own mindset, I have shifted how I see those around me who may be more ‘successful’ than I am.
The first key is standing true to my own journey. I can’t compare myself to anyone because my unique and individual life/career is completely my own and incomparable. Where I am will never look the same as someone else’s current stage and it isn’t worthwhile or healthy to think of all the ways in which that other person is doing better or worse than I am. There is no better or worse.
The second key is to meet my instinctive envy or competition-based mindset with compassion, love, and admiration. I know it sounds annoyingly sweet but this is how I intentionally let go of competition. The moment I hear my thoughts going to a place of envy or comparison, I stop myself dead in my tracks and flip the switch to thoughts of love, admiration, and compassion. I think about how wonderful that person is, how inspiring they are, and how happy I am for them. This key is rooted in the fact that my heart’s voice is stronger than any negative force.
The third key is to intentionally channel my competitive nature into a part of my life where it is healthy and productive. There is one place where this mentality is healthy — physical fitness and strength. If I am interested in pushing myself and competing, I will let my warrior flag fly at the gym or in a dance class. All while practicing detachment from outcomes of course! But studies show that the one place in a human’s life where competing with others actually works and is healthy, is when it comes to physical endeavours.
And lastly, my fourth key is to create the community and space I envision where competition is no longer a factor. I especially noticed the competition among females in my life and teamed up with a powerhouse twosome to put together an event called Fully Fearless. Our goal was to create a space for young women to sweat, connect, and grow in an honest, open, and non-judgemental way. So if you are in a space that feels unhealthily competitive, get out of there and make or find a space that isn’t.