It’s fun to earn a trophy, a medal, or a new belt. I have won a few throughout my experiences with music and sports activities, and each time I feel a rush of pride and achievement. It feels good to win or complete a difficult challenge. Consider your own competitive tendencies. When do you compete in energizing, healthy ways, and when do you cross a line and begin competing in ways that are unhealthy?
The following suggestions may keep you competing in ways that benefit rather than harm you and your relationships with other people:
- Remain able and willing to cheer for others when they achieve more or do better in a particular area than you do. Healthy competitors can appreciate and cheer for others’ strengths without being threatened or excessively envious.
- Let losses be lessons, not definitions of your worth or identity. Whether you win, lose, or fall somewhere in between, be self-reflective and let your weaker performances be learning experiences that shape future behaviors.
- Push yourself, but not in ways that tear you down physically or emotionally. Being excessively self-critical or continuing to compete when you have an injury are decisions that will hurt, not help, your long-term performance.
- Remember that your worth and your life are multidimensional. We are complex people who are always doing better in some areas and struggling in other areas. Celebrate and embrace your successes, and realize that your strengths will shift over time.
- Keep things in balance. When you compete, do not neglect other aspects of your life. Keep the foundational pieces in place and revisit how you are doing spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Basic self-care in each of those areas of life creates a healthy foundation upon which to build competitive successes.