“One of the reasons many of us have trouble getting our work out into the world is that unconsciously we’re competing instead of creating, which short-circuits the flow of inspiration.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
What drives you forward, motivates you toward success, keeps your actions in line with your intentions? Is it the passion in your heart? The urging of your soul? Or is it a sense of wanting to be better than someone else?
From the time we are small, we are taught to compete. Not only are we taught to strive to do better than those around us, we learn that this is a healthy way to live, and that we will always have to outdo someone else in order to succeed. We’re told that it’s a “dog eat dog world,” that we need to “win at all costs,” and that “life is a struggle.” We compete athletically in the gymnasium, academically in the classroom and socially in the hallways. We learn to be crushed by defeat and feel superior when we win.
In high school we are led to believe that we need to achieve the highest standards of grades and accumulate extracurricular points because of the competitive nature of college admissions, and that we have to attend the “right” college because of the scarcity of jobs. Then, once we find the “right” job, we are always striving to be one step ahead of our colleagues and other businesses so that we can prove our worth and get the promotions and raises we deserve. And of course, we need those raises and promotions so that we can afford the best in gadgets, cars and homes to keep up with our neighbors and peers.
So how’s that “healthy competition” working out for you?
Buying into the belief that you have to be better than someone else not only creates unnecessary stress, it negates and overrides the driving force of our true passions and gifts. We all come into the world with a divine light to shine, and that light is the truth of our soul. When we get caught up in the social construct of constantly having to be wary and suspicious of the success of others, we create enemies where there may have been friends. When we believe that our worth is tied up with how successful we are in comparison to our peers, we lose sight of what truly makes us happy. When we measure abundance solely with accumulated possessions, we miss out on our daily joys.
As a spiritual practitioner in a small community, I surprised at how often I find myself faced with others whose lives reflect this fear-based sense of competition, since I believe that our small spiritual community could be just that; a community of people who promote and support each other with the understanding that we each have a unique light to shine for a common collective aim. My idea of success is based on how I’m feeling about the work I’m doing, and not how well I’m doing in comparison to others. There are more than enough clients for all the practitioners in the world; those who need to hear from me will find me, and those who will resonate with someone else will be drawn to them. Knowing this allows me the freedom to progress in my business based on the direction of my heart and my intention to serve, while still earning a living which allows me to thrive.
Imagine how you would feel if you dropped the need to compete in every area of your life. What doors would that new-found liberation open for you? How much self-love could you gain by choosing to measure your personal success with the barometer of your feelings, rather than how you think you’re looking to others? How would your work, your personal relationships, your body image, your self-confidence change if your focus was redirected to celebrating your personal triumphs, rather than suspiciously guarding them? How would it feel to cheer on your colleagues, rather than feel envious of them? How much better would you feel about yourself if you dropped the need to live up to the standards of others?
Competing with others causes us stress because it is counter to the truth of our soul, which recognizes that we are each a unique aspect of the divine. If you are finding yourself dragged down by stress, take a look at your beliefs about competition and understand that you can choose a better truth; one that resonates with your inner knowing and leads you to a healthier state of experiencing peace with others, a higher understanding of the true meaning of self-worth and a more resonant definition of success.