When is it OK NOT to win? It depends on how you view yourself. Why do you need to win? How does it make you feel? How does winning or losing change you? There are many times when winning is simply not important. It’s the pleasure, stimulation and insights you get when you participate.
I play cards with a woman who is very competitive (we’ll talk about why in a minute) It’s a game that requires some strategy but it’s also based on the luck of the draw. I win a lot. And some of my fellow card players got grumpy about that. I noticed how much happier this woman is when she does win and how important it is for her to be in the lead from the very beginning of the game. When she is not winning, she wants to quit early. The need to be competitive colors her entire experience.
Why winning should take second place
Winning has never been very important to me, but learning to do something better is always interesting. The only competition I have is with me. I think I win at this card game because I stay focused, I have a strategy and I am flexible, I respond to the opportunities that show up. Those are all are good life lessons. If learning, greater self-awareness and experiencing positive change are the objective in participation, there are many opportunities to participate. What can I learn that will make me a better writer, live a more meaningful life, be a better friend, or have a greater impact? When you immerse yourself in the pleasure of the process, it becomes a positive experience no matter what the outcome.
Why do you feel competitive?
Only you can answer that. My observation of this woman is that she is very insecure and judges her ok-ness by winning. That extends to a strong need to be the most liked, the beset host, etc. Is it possible that you could feel less competitive if you stop depending on others for how you feel about yourself? We’re not speaking of testing a skill or deliberately setting out to participate in a competition, we’re looking at what you do to yourself if you feel competitive in situations where you don’t need to compete.
You need to learn to accept yourself for all your uniqueness, weirdness, and power. An over-active need to be competitive may be anchored in a need for greater self-love and self-acceptance. As an example, I really, really like being alone. I love my mind and all the fun things we do together. It would be unsupportive of who I am to go try to be the most outgoing, or have the most friends, or attend the most acclivities. It’s not me. I have no feeling of competition because being social is not a goal I want to achieve. I love me just the way I am. Do what you love to do. Do it the best you can and let all thoughts of competing go. Enjoy the opportunity to stretch and grow.
Why are you competitive?
When do you feel competitive when there really is no need to compete? Can you let that go? Notice the acknowledgements that come your way. Savor them. Accept them as evidence that you are contributing to the lives of those around you. When you are aware of how deeply you affect others, you can simply immerse yourself in the pleasure of the activity and forget all about competing.