Everything is a competition, right? I mean it can’t just be me who’s been fed decades of American lawyer series where the most prominent is the one who never loses, season after season of crime dramas with the ‘good’ officers always in the end reading the criminals their rights and endless variants of sit-coms where the laughing stock is the one who can never get a win? I’m sure I can’t be the only one cultured into a sense of success being equal to winning.
You can see it in children too. Already before starting school and being indoctrinated heavily into the culture they live in they incorporate competition into their daily life. You know, who gets from point a to b the fastest, who won a game, who has the most toys. Ah, and my favourite one of course, the competition that no-one else knew about, which is when the child suddenly says “Ha – I won! I finished my meal the first!” or “I finished brushing my teeth before you – ha ha, I won!”. When in fact there was no prior information to the competition taking place. And even if there was you would have been likely to think it a strange area to compete in anyway.
But then, what makes it interesting with kids is that it doesn’t always seem they have an opponent in their competitions. Which is what I think accounts for the made up, non priorly communicated competitions that happen. Sure, they use everybody around them as opponents, including some that aren’t aware of it, but it doesn’t really strike me as if they think the ones who according to them didn’t win are worse or has lesser worth. They simply conclude they themselves won. And if they didn’t win, they decide that everybody’s in the same team so everybody won. A pretty straight forward, non condescending way of seeing it if you think about it. That there can be competition with only winners. Even if everybody didn’t actually win. Or even enter the competition. They just think it’s nice to win, it’s not actually about the opponent not winning.
So I have been noticing the efficiency of using that same reasoning for myself. That is, the idea of a chosen competition with only winners. Let’s say for example when running or walking, swimming, or any type of activity where you are moving alongside other people. You choose who to compete with. So when you are closing up on someone, you enter competition mode and you silently cheer and give yourself an inner high five for overtaking the person. And on days when you are feeling strong and are faster than ever you compete with every back you are approaching. And on days when you are feeling a bit slow and low you choose your victims more thoroughly, ending up hurraying and whistling in your head when you actually ran past someone nearly walking. And you feel good about it. Real good. No second thoughts. But you don’t think less of the other person in either scenario. Cause, one you are too busy feeling great about winning and two deep down you probably realise that another day the roles will be reversed.
But I dare say it’s a very usable strategy. Compete to win, but choose your opponents carefully, so that it helps you build yourself and your own self esteem. But do it without forgetting that the roles could be reversed. That way everybody’s a winner and we actually allow for all of us to help each other to become winners.
Or, of course, I’m maybe just one of those really bad losers but can’t even face that. How does your winning instinct work?