Last one inside is a rotten egg. Remember when you used to say that? That line would get you up and running full-speed ahead, and even now, the thought of ‘beating’ everyone else and being first can still get your adrenaline going.
Back then, not being a rotten egg was just about fun. Now, it can cause you to ‘run yuh blood to water’, overworking, or crushing others. To be competitive, according to the Oxford dictionary, is “having or displaying a strong desire to be more successful than others”, and for many of us that is a natural phenomenon. We associate competition with positive traits like motivation and ambition. But where does it all come from? Our parents? Are we born with a competitive streak or do we do it out of a need to belong?
There is nothing wrong with having the desire to want to do better and improve oneself; that’s what we refer to as ‘healthy competition’. While some of us veer on the healthy side of competition, others don’t. Thing is… some folks don’t realize when they’ve crossed the line from healthy behaviour to unhealthy tactics. More importantly, they don’t realize that even when they manage to beat the competition, they’ve compromised themselves in some other way.
I’m no Dr Phil, but I think there are a few ways to identify when you’ve crossed the line. First, ask yourself, how do you feel about defeat? Do you need to win ALL the time? Do you find it difficult to cope when others have outdone you? Are you competitive only when it comes to professional accomplishments or do you compete with your loved ones too? In other words, are you too competitive? Let’s find out.
1. You lose sight of your real goals
Many of us spend years working toward a brighter future. We invest time, energy and money in school, with the hopes of landing good jobs to sustain us through life. We need that competitive streak in order to do so. The problem, though, occurs when people get distracted. We get so caught up with what others are doing around us that we lose sight of what our real goals are. It’s called “keeping up with the Jones” – that urgent need to upgrade your car from Japanese to German or renovate your house because the Jones down the road did so. This new and distorted focus is not only costly to the bank account, but also to your well-being.
2. You’re happy when others fail and you shine
Ok. So you won and you’re happy. Totally understandable. However, do you get a sick sense of accomplishment when you see someone else fail? Does it make you feel “betta dan dem”? Do you get really angry (like smash windows and hyperventilate) when someone else succeeds, as opposed to just disappointed that you didn’t achieve? When a friend tells you they’re going after a goal, do you hope they don’t do well? If so, then Houston we have a problem.
If you’re angry with others, especially your loved ones when they’re a success, then your problem isn’t about you not achieving your goals. You’re either too competitive or have serious issues with seeing others do well. Now, I’m not saying this to make you look like a villain, because you probably aren’t. However, ask yourself, “why am I so upset”?
3. You panic when others do well
If you find yourself experiencing an anxiety attack or getting upset because someone else is ‘shining’ at something you’re good at – oh let’s say at a board game, on the playing field or with some task at work – then you need to ask the question, why are their skills making me ‘sweat’ and should their abilities mean that mine are inferior? Basically, you’re feeling threatened and rather than own those negative feelings, perhaps you could consider the fact that this world IS big enough for the both of you to shine.
4. You see friends as an adversary rather than a team-mate
So you’re out with your crew on a Saturday night and everything is going well until a ‘fine looking’ girl/guy shows up. What seems like a nice lime suddenly becomes an unspoken declaration of war and you start obsessing about your friends being there, and cramping your style, because by default they’ve become the competition or even worse the enemy. Now, it’s natural to want to put your best foot forward in this situation; after all, that’s how we find life partners. However, when you take it to another ‘ugly’ level with your friends, and feel the need to ‘beat’ them down because of it, then I’d say, “Yep, you have a problem!”
5. Get (really) bummy when you don’t win
There are so many instances in life where this occurs, but I’ll narrow it down to relationships. If you’re in a relationship where you have to win every disagreement/argument in order to feel good about yourself, most likely your ‘better half’ is thinking that this partnership ‘sucks’. Your behaviour could be viewed as childish, very self-centred and too competitive. You need to ask yourself some deeper questions such as, why do I need to win at all costs rather than do the mature thing like be more willing to hear some hard truths about myself or compromise on situations? Ultimately, if you both can be winners, then the reward will be tenfold.
We’ve all been told to do ‘our best’, but for some there seems to be a real struggle with whatever the outcome of that is, mostly because they are not able to cope with feelings of defeat, be it on the job, in their relationships or on the playing field. The sad truth is that in ignoring those emotions, not only will you make yourself miserable, but somewhere down the road you will also risk the chance of losing yourself. Being able to set goals and going after them in a healthy competitive way without having to compromise your ethics, financial security, health or the relationships you’ve developed is the greatest win you could ever shoot for.
Image courtesy iStockphoto.com
Check out the rest of this week’s issue (29/11/10, Issue 34):
- Maxi Taxi Tales: When Hysteria, Survivors and Justice Reigned
- Living with STDs: No Laughing Matter
- Nicole Greene: Macaroni Kid at Heart
- An Open Letter to Mayor Louis Lee Sing: Kudos on the Vagrants
- Oversharing with Friends: When Relationship Secrets get Busted
Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday.