Do you have that person in your life that has that undeniable competitive streak? Sometimes it’s healthy to have that drive but when it’s about pretty much everything it can be a bit much.
What Pisses Me Off: People Who Constantly Compete!
“Comparison is the thief of joy” this quote by Theodore Roosevelt is so good it should be broadcast on a megaphone. From a mental and spiritual standpoint, no good comes from the jealousy and pressure that can spew from living in a state of comparison and as mental health issues continue to rise, what pisses me off these days are people who constantly compete.
We all have that friend that turns everything into a competition, no matter what is happening, they have a way to make the situation about them. You buy a new car, they talk about buying a better one, you buy a house, they talk about their renovations, you go on a date, they talk about their “perfect” marriage, etc. Comparison isn’t limited to positive experiences, some people even compete when it comes to hardships, your car broke down, they don’t even have a car, you have a bad date, they can’t even get one, etc. In fairness, competing can be a habit that we all (myself included) may do unintentionally at times but why have we become accustomed to it? Why does it at times feel like no matter what we achieve, some aunty, uncle, friend or frenemy turns our celebration into a “one-upping” conversation?
Read on as we explore some of the reasons people compete and provide suggestions on how to deal with this drama:
Reason: Upbringing and/or cultural norms
Many of us may have grown up experiencing competitive reinforcement on a regular basis. Particularly in the South Asian culture, it seems common practice for people (especially elders) to guide us on what we should do based on what other people are doing. The attitude on success can at times feel like its less about one’s own, personal accomplishments and more on how those achievements compare to that of others (e.g. condescending aunty example “oh you got all A’s on your report card, that’s nice beta, but if you need help ask my daughter, she got all A+ on hers, she’s just naturally very smart”).
Suggestion: Focus on yourself
Don’t engage in comparative conversations; smile, dust off your shoulders and move the conversation in a different direction. Break the cycle by not speaking in comparative language and politely shutting down conversations that put you (or others) down. Don’t just complain about comparisons, be the change you want to see by demonstrating theirs tons of other things to talk about.
Reason: They think competition is healthy
Some may argue competition can push people to do their best but unless it’s a sport or game, if your ambition is linked to beating others, it won’t be long before it beats down your spirit. Why? Because there will always be someone stronger, faster, better (even if that’s you, it may just last for a moment in time). When we link our self-worth to where we rank among others, it becomes something linked to external factors and can negatively impact our self-esteem.
Suggestion: Compete but with yourself; commit to your own improvement. Always try your best, be gentle with yourself and engage in positive self-talk. Celebrate your progress instead of punishing where you fall short; that’s what’s healthy.
Though I understand this habit in young adults (and again plead guilty to have behaved this way as a teenager), it boggles my mind that as people mature into adulthood, they still feel high making others feel low. When people aren’t happy with themselves, putting others down can become a form of self-validation and/or instant gratification. It’s not that they are a bad person, perhaps they want you to do well just not better than them. This is there own deeply-rooted issue and likely doesn’t have much to do with you.
Suggestion: Choose your friends wisely.
Your circle should help you grow and reach new heights, not pull you down. Confrontation can be hard but if you’re constantly being hurt by someone in your life, you need to carefully communicate how they make you feel to them. If the behavior doesn’t change, consider it may be time to peacefully move on from the relationship (if it’s a family member that you cannot avoid, limit your interactions with them).
Reason: They have a scarcity mindset
Some people stay stuck in a competitive mindset because they think there’s not enough success to go around. The pressure to be perfect to fulfill their needs, desires and wants as fast as possible, may make them think they have to push other people out of there way. The truth is, there’s more than enough resources to go around and our energy gets consumed trying to outdo others, we lose the opportunity to put it into something more productive.
Suggestion: Lead by example with an abundant mindset
The best way to inspire others to let go of the scarcity mentality, is to adopt one of abundance yourself. On the road to your own success, you don’t have to walk alone; network with others who have similar desires and goals and you will likely move down your path faster due to the support. Learn more on how to adopt an abundant mindset here.
Reason: Fueled by good intentions, they don’t want you to feel alone
Another reason some people constantly come off as competitive is to help others feel they are not alone, especially when it comes to life’s challenges. For example, perhaps your friend is expressing he/she is feeling depressed about their career. In you attempt to help console them, you start to share how hard your job is or how sad you’ve been lately to demonstrate you can relate to what they are going through. Despite good intentions, what you’re doing in that moment is shifting attention away from your friends’ issue and highlighting your own.
Suggestion: Remember there may be good intentions at the root of it
If you know the person has good intentions, don’t take their comparisons personally. Though it can be frustrating, they are likely driven by their desire to help make you feel better and are doing their best based on their level of awareness. Gently ask them if they would be willing to just listen; reassure them their presence while you vent, or share is all the support you need.
Main Image Photo Credit: https://truthrevoloution.com
Rachna (@mindfullyyours)is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfulness...
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