A Little Friendly Competition

Posted: July 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Whew. I feel so much better today. As much as I love being busy with fun things over the weekend, I always suffer the first day back to normal routine. The emotional side effects of Sunday night made it all harder too. Thank you all, though, for your support and kind words. Knowing there are people like each of you out there showing me love truly brightens my day. I adore the blogging community. For the friendship it provides, but also for the motivation. More on that in a moment.

Last night I was able to wind down by watching a train wreck in a relationship outside my father’s and mine. That would be Jake & Vienna’s breakup interview that was aired on The Bachelorette.

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Highly entertaining. And surprising. I never liked Vienna but I believe her over him after viewing his actions and attitude. Why do I care? I don’t. I just care to have some amusing background noise while I try to finish up my Jodi Picoult book. Book & TV at the same time? I’m a mom of a 20 month old. I am a queen of multi-tasking.

This morning I awoke refreshed and ready to hit up Power for a workout. The class was phenomenal because one of my favorite instructors was there unexpectedly. The instructor totally makes the class, wouldn’t you agree? During the class she also said something that got my wheels turning. She said we are not here to compete with anyone else in that room. That the class is not a competition, even a friendly one. It is to do our best and motivate each other to do so as well.

Have you ever been in competition with someone and claimed that it was a friendly competition? I honestly don’t believe that friendly competition exists. What a huge oxymoron anyways. Webster describes competition as a rivalry between competitors to earn or gain something over the opponent. I’ve had friendships where there is a sense of competition in the relationship. It is a never ending cycle of trying to one-up the other, ending in frustration with the other person instead of support and care. I’ve been a member of fitness forums where everyone is always trying to outdo the other members. It almost got to the point of a “who can be more disordered with their eating issues and exercise habits” game. I’ve been proud and had an attitude over people I crossed paths with because they weren’t as “healthy, fit, dedicated, ________” as me. People who didn’t even recognize I was in competition with them.

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After removing myself as much as possible from relationships which I constantly felt the need to prove myself and joining the blogging community, among other things, I realized friendly competition was for the birds. Instead, I adopted a mentality of doing things to be my best, happiest, and most balanced self and helping those I care about achieve the same. It is much more rewarding to be in companionship with another than in competition. How do you do that? Here’s what I think…

1. Recognize and stop competitive behaviors. Comparing yourself to someone else and a) thinking you’re not doing enough or b) pitying the other person for not being as wonderful as you are. Becoming overly proud or incessantly bragging to prove your worth to another person. Pushing yourself to achieve something you are not comfortable with, mentally or physically, for the sake of proving yourself to someone. When situations like these happen, consider how we are all different and have different goals and abilities.

2. Provide encouragement to others when they compliment you, ask how you are successful with something, or show frustration with their lack of progress. Always find a way to build someone up and offer help with their questions. You can even point out a strength of theirs.

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3. Accept support and positive statements from others. If you receive a compliment, don’t push it away. Being happy with yourself will help decrease the need to validate yourself in competitions.

4. Use the strengths you admire in other people to motivate you, but not as a yardstick to measure up to. If you read blogs about fabulous athletes running many miles a day or completing intense workouts, you can channel their energy (and advice) for your own workouts. Don’t let the fact you might not be running 5 or more miles at a time right now get you down. Remember we all have to start somewhere. Give yourself time to consistently work hard at your goals and don’t forget that they are YOUR goals. They must suit you. Not what you think they should be based on someone else’s abilities.

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5. Have fun! If you make your goals in life fun and fulfilling you don’t have to get caught up in the rat race because you are enjoying the journey. You will want others to feel that same happiness and will share it with them.

There will always be competition in certain situations and in some instances it is a good thing. For example, during a race you will inevitably face competition and you can use it to push you for that run. The difference, in my mind, is the competition we place on ourselves on a regular basis and with those we know personally and even care for. That is when support replacing competition can benefit us all.

  • What ways do you multitask? Is it hard or easy for you?
  • Do you believe friendly competition is useful or detrimental? What ways are you competitive?

Now I'm off for a lady's night with my mom and sister! I'm super excited for it. Any guesses??? :D

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17 Comments to “A Little Friendly Competition”
  1. i always have the TV in the background when i work from home…for some reason it keeps things from getting waaaaaaaaay too boring! i am extremely competitive…but most of the time it’s internal (i’ll think to myself that i won’t let that person beat me to the next tree…stuff like that). in sports though? i can’t help it! that’s what sports are for, right? :)

  2. I love your points – such a great reminder. Especially the first one – A and B are equally bad for different reasons, and neither are attractive habits or, in my opinion, healthy habits. I don’t think it exists either, and unfortunately, I don’t think people who compete with me, whether it’s “friendly” or not, are very good friends, and that sucks. :(

  3. homecookedem says:

    I used to be really bad about “friendly competition” and like you said, often the other person didn’t even have a clue! That was a big part of why I developed disordered eating and exercise obsession. I think I was trying to out-do many people who I felt had always out-done me and I was determined to finally be better than them once and for all. Did it work? No way. I only made myself even more unhappy and just plain miserable.

    I can honestly say that now I’m at a point where I’m always soooooo genuinely happy for everyone around me when good things happen to them. It makes my heart happy to see others succeed, even if I’m not good at whatever it is they are. I accept that I will never be a size 2 like some of my friends are and that is OK.

  4. So glad you had a great class today. That always makes me feel good. I’ve never thought about friendly competition to be honest. I don’t really compete with anyone but myself unless it’s a race. Maybe if I went to more classes I might though – I’m fairly competitive. ;-)

  5. I think competition CAN be friendly sometimes and as long as it comes from a positive attitude, I think it’s ok. I view friendly competition though as pushing each other in a workout, not necesarily trying to BEAT the other person, if that makes sense.

  6. Alyssa says:

    Haha, my hubby and I watched that interview last night. Highly comical. How much do you think they were paid to do it?? :-)

    ~Alyssa

  7. I really needed to read this right now! I am trying so hard to clean up my diet and get back on track with workouts and I have been being REALLY competitive with myself and with others, at least internally. While friendly competition with yourself can help (I just mean pushing yourself harder, trying to reach certain goals, etc.), comparison and competition with others always just ends in ME feeling worse about myself. It does not do any good. I was praying about this this morning, so great to read your post today! Something to work on, as always!

  8. I don’t really think that friendly competition exists either. I mean I think some level of competition can be healthy but I also think it depends on the type of person you are. I will fully admit that I am super competitive and I usually don’t find it be a “friendly” quality. It drives Keith nuts sometimes because sometimes I find myself being competitive with him. Those are the times when he has to remind me that he and I are a team…we are not working against one another but together. (Sigh…he is such a good man)

  9. I am such a multi-tasker! My husband laughs at me and wonders how I do it!

  10. Ameena says:

    I am also the queen of reading and watching TV at the same time…there isn’t enough time in the day to separate the two out!

    Just finished Erin Hildebrand’s (sp?) latest book Winter Garden. A bit slow in the beginning but really fascinating. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for something to read after Jodi Picoult’s book!

  11. I really like this post. I think that sometimes I am guilty of some of the negative thought patterns that you listed (thinking that I am better then people who don’t workout ior eat healthy is a big one! Shameful but true). I should definitely make more of an effort to curb this unhealthy behavior and find more pride and happiness from within. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Rachel says:

    I always multi-task. Like right now. Eating lunch and commenting on your blog!

    I’m a paralegal and the receptionist at my office so I am ALWAYS juggling a hundred things at once.

    In fact, I sort of have anxiety when I only have one thing to do.

  13. Nichole says:

    Fantastic post!! First, that top gun jerkface bachelor is such a certifiable cheese-ball. However, due to the overwhelming drama between them, maybe they deserve each other:)

    I Use the strengths you admire in other people to motivate you, but not as a yardstick to measure up to.

    My husband is such a naturally healthy, fit person, I have to keep my friendly competition hat and support up for him because I am easily frustrated when things don’t go easy for me.

    Great thoughts!

  14. Ah, I kind of believe in friendly competition when it comes to workout motivation. Running with Stephen always makes me faster because I feel motivated to not give up and run faster. But in all other aspects of life, competition is not my fave. It only makes me compare myself to others and feel down on myself for not measuring up.

  15. Holly says:

    I agree, 100%! I have a friend who is competitive with me when it comes to working out, and I’ve definitely had to distance myself from her. It was just really starting to make me feel bad about myself. If we are just trying to challenge ourselves, that is one thing, but I think when we talk about “competing” that includes comparing…and (for me, at least), that usually doesn’t end well.

    I ALSO agree about Vienna. I was never a fan, but after watching that, I completely believe her and think he’s…well…a jerk (I have a stronger word, but I’ll refrain)! He seemed so smug and cocky. And honestly, I don’t think she’s THAT good of an actress, so I definitely believe what she said! Ahhhh….the drama. :-)

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