Competition as A Way To Take Care of Myself

Picture of an archery competition at Mönchengl...

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Self-Care Tip #183 – Compete to be a friend to yourself.

Competition is not always thought to be a friendly word.  Pictures of hair-pulling, whining, learned helplessness, failure or success come to mind.  However I’m happy to say that we can put away that old grudge and open our arms to what competition can offer.

We are sharper intellectually when we compete.  It is stimulating and good brain exercise.

We feel better when we compete.  It releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter (brain messenger.)

We are more likely to win in self-care when we include competition.  Some people call it, “Making a game out of it.”  But that is really just saying, get competitive in a friendly way.  For example, this is one of the few successful ways to get long-term success with weight loss.

We are able to connect with others easier when we compete, believe it or not.  Competition is in fact a way to get out of isolation.  Pretty cool.

Competition can increase productivity – a boost to one’s quality of life and self-esteem.

Today I was speaking with my daughter’s teacher about bits of this concept.  I am hoping that more competition is integrated into her school curriculum.  For example, her daily writing could be shared with two fellow students of like abilities and vice versa.  She would read what they wrote, coalesce the information into her own thoughts, and write her response.

She would be working on:

  1. Writing
  2. Reading
  3. Interpretive thinking
  4. Learning how to let her thoughts travel the sometimes seemingly endless road between her mind and out her fingers.
  5. Productivity
  6. Connecting with peers/socialization
  7. Personal achievement/self-esteem/confidence
  8. more….

Question:  What role has competition played in your own self-care?  Please tell me your story.

15 thoughts on “Competition as A Way To Take Care of Myself

  1. This is a big, big topic…. So many directions I want to go in my response. Acknowledging that competition is biologically hardwired and therefore will always exist, I have very strong feelings about when and where competition is appropriate. It is appropriate with oneself (beating a personal best time during a swim workout, focusing better on that second essay of Kant’s more than the first, a recipe that is better the third time, etc). It is also appropriate in designated venues (speech competitions, soccer field, Kindle v. Nook, etc). Other than that, I am not a fan… In academics, yes, competition happens. Some good, some very bad. I believe we ultimately take the honest route, learn for ourselves, do our best, meet a standard. I have seen many a student believe that academics is a venue for competition in which anything goes, including cheating and lying. One student even told me that he believes cheating and lying are acceptable in the business world because in a competition, anything goes in pursuit of winning. Obviously this is not the kind of competition you are talking about….but competition in the wrong hands goes awry. With your daughter’s work, it seems you are emphasizing more of a collaboration, perhaps. Outside of sports and actual competitions I’ve signed up for (speech, Mock Trial, etc), I tend to stay away from it as a frame of mind. I think competition outside a proper sphere leads to envy and covetousness, especially if one person is competing with someone else who doesn’t know it. We in the “mom” world know this well…moms get so competitive, sometimes I can hear it just eavesdropping at the park (bad to eavesdrop, I know). I do appreciate what you are saying about competition being a connection…yet I really think that should happen only between parties who mutually agree, with set boundaries and rules, and for a fixed time. I can’t get around the fact that there will always be competition for natural resources…if only I could!

    • u said this well. thanks sarah.
      i have to tell the world though, i’ve never seen someone compete quite as prettily, eloquently and articulately as u do in front of a crowd or on paper. i spose that’s a mutual agreement as u say when u do it as i will always gladly listen.
      “cheating and lying” are tough to take really as u said in any arena. competition is one of many. keep on.

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  3. I have mixed emotions on competition. I’m ok with healthy/friendly competition, but there are always those who know how to take it to the extreme…those are the ones I don’t like to “play” with. Seriously, I know people who don’t let things go…and I was not always a gracefulor gracious loser if it was thrown in my face. I still have difficulty with my own self esteem when I lose. I think it might be based on that I felt my worth came in the form of “being the best” at what I was doing. I have long since let go of this competitive phase, however, I do find that it hinders me from completing a a project I really want (but don’t have the confidence) to do. Maybe I am afraid of falling on my face, maybe a small part of me fears success. I’ve been trying to put myself in a competitive mode with myself to get it done. I feel it’s a losing battle to compare myself with someone else because I am not them, I am me. This is really not about the competitive nature of your post, but this was the nerve it struck with me…Yes, it struck a nerve deep within me, and dang it, I really don’t want to explore it, but……

  4. In a sense, if we look at the list you’ve made about what your daughter would be doing in competing with her classmates, we who are responding to the subjects and questions brought up in this blog site are competing – for our own self care. It certainly has been helpful to me to read your thoughts and those of others who comment here, to assmble my memories and feelings and to put them into writing. I never considered it competing but I guess if we are interacting in any way, perhaps it is a competition.

    For the past three years I have been playing bridge with seven other “senior citizens”. 🙂 Now, that’s competition! They are all excellent players and I’ve learned a lot. However, the socialization has been the healing (self care) part of this experience, and the people I play with have become a strong support system, not only for me but for each of the players involved. The fact that this is a friendly group of elderly women (I’m by far the youngest) who just want to be “out” and playing bridge is healthy and fun and good for our minds and our competive spirit. Good self care for each of us!

  5. I received an email asking me to post an anonymous comment:
    The rumbling echoes beating against the cliff lined shore…Infiltrating through all permissible avenues…the rock and sand formations are an ever changing sculpturing; that are treasured for their moment in time…The gulls encircle just above the intrusive crevasses; frantically cawing; as they flight between the unmerciful natures of wind & sea. The air is crisp; with its layering salten mist. The vast array of colors are dissipating behind the finale of the afternoon sun. As the horizon is blanketed with a thickened advancing fog. My view point is high above the oceans torrent demands…upon a lofted cliff plateau; I safely am guarded against the harsh elements of the mighty non-rendering forces. The upper landscape is forested with strange formations of windswept brush vegetation; resembling a frozen tundra that lost its upright stance…With the rushing clouds racing above me; the whistling winds wisp around me; as a invisible game of tag. Yet, I am surely footed and endeavoring upon my towering rock. The evening hues are ever so changing..the sky is deepened in color as a few specks of light reflect in contrast. Across the cliff jetted barrier.. standing alone… with purposed valor; as a knighted soldier… The beams of his victorious entry break-forth diminishing the darkness. No threats; no diversities are able to overtake this guardian’s post. While the lighted majestic beams are the assurance to the waywardness of the sea’s troubled captives…the lighthouse is an armored reflection of hope and answer to all who are in need…

    ***JESUS represents the safe comforter: ( lighthouse); who offers hope in the mist of the storms- we definately face in this world. CHRIST JESUS offers a rich loving assurance of HIS Heart to Yours….”You My Child; Are So Very Precious” 2 HIM!!!…Take HIS Hand & Let HIM Show You.HIS LOVE….You already have HIS Heart- now… Give HIM Yours….

  6. Had to go and dig out an old notebook to find this:

    “When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill. If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets — He is out of his mind! His skill has not changed. But the prize divides him. He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting— And the need to win drains him of power.”
    Chuang Tzu

    Have a good weekend, Doc.

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