For all of the meditation, yoga and positive thinking that I’ve done in my life, I’m still a competitive person.
I notice when others in my industry do something new and amazing.
I have moments of longing when I see others be “bigger” than me.
I occasionally find myself thinking, “That was my idea, so pissed she got there first.”
(I also love to win Scrabble and Boggle and any kind of race).
I am competitive. And actually, most people are.
There are some people who don’t have competition in their bones (my husband, for example, before meeting him I wouldn’t have even believed this type of person existed), but for the most part, competition is part of human nature.
And get this: it’s not a bad thing.
Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t listen to the folks out there that say competition is “wrong”. Don’t hate yourself for your competitive nature. Or feel ashamed. Or like you’re not “spiritual” enough because of it.
Actually, competition can be an amazing thing and used for immense good in the world and in your business. In its highest form, competition is a sacred energy.
Competition happens naturally in the animal world all the time (think: competing for food or shelter or a mate), and humans are animals, so it’s natural for us as well.
At its best, the sacred energy of competition can be a vehicle for creativity, productivity, transformation, positive change in the world, self-love and love for others. Don’t believe me? Think about how motivating it can be when you watch someone else who is doing well.
However, there are useful and then not-so-useful ways of handling your competitive streak. We do need to take a close look at that, or else you will find yourself feeling anxious, constantly comparing yourself to others, jealous, feeling bad about yourself, bitchy, and unable to play nice with joint venture partners or feel good about other people’s wins.
Those are the lowest expressions of competition, and they arise when you aren’t using this sacred energy consciously and wisely.
Jealousy, in particular, can rear its ugly head when competition goes wrong, and we all know how horrible that can feel.
So how do you manage your competitive nature and make it work for you and everyone else?
Step 1: Acknowledge it: Anything that you sweep under the rug just wants to get bigger and louder and nasty. Acknowledging your competitive feelings to yourself will immediately bring it out of hiding and blind spot and into the light where you can control it instead of it controlling you.
Step 2: Embrace it: Anything that you hate or reject wants to get bigger and louder and nasty, too (internally or externally). When you notice your competitive feelings come up, love yourself for them. Know that they don’t say anything negative about you, and that they are present to help you unleash your creativity and productivity.
Step 3: Let the sacred energy of competition be expressed in a safe container: Competition – like love or anger – is first experienced as an energy that wants to move through the body and be expressed. Allow this sacred energy to move through you. In a safe, private place, dance to music that will help you express your predatory impulses, or scream out loud, or write a nasty letter to whoever you feel competitive with. You can even move your body to pretend squashing the other person or punching them out.
Remember, it’s not that you want to do this in real life or would ever do this in real life. It’s just about letting the energy run its natural course through your body so that it doesn’t get stuck inside of you and fester into jealousy, hatred or self-judgment.
Step 4: Get Inspired and Creative: It’s incredible how free and open you will feel in your body when you let the sacred energy of competition flow. (When I lead clients through this process, their new energy is palpable, buoyant and empowered). After doing this, consciously connect in to yourself and sit down to write or take a walk and brainstorm on your next idea. You will be amazed at what comes through when you are this connected, open channel.
Step 5: Consider Collaborating: I get a little ticked off when teachers espouse “collaboration, not competition” if they are denying and shaming you for your competitive nature. But once you’ve harnessed the sacred energy of competition, then you actually want to collaborate with others. It feels good and aligned and you find possibilities that you haven’t seen before. The act of collaborating from this total self-love and love-of-others place allows you to have even more control over your competitive nature and receive even more grace and good from it.
Bottom Line: Don’t ever deny or hate on a part of yourself. Don’t be ashamed of competitive feelings. Love all of yourself and embrace it all. This is what I’ve found most helpful on my entrepreneurial path and my path in life. The more you can own your feelings and impulses, the more you can harness them in productive and loving ways.