Comparing, Belittling and Competing

I have always thought that being a little competitive is always good for myself. However, it is a thin line between healthy comparison and belittling yourself. There is a saying in Chinese, 长他人志气 灭自己威风, meaning: lauding the spirit of your competitor and belittle that of your own. I always believe the biggest enemy is oneself but that doesn’t mean I don’t compare myself with others, even subconsciously.

When I was working my way up in my career ladder, I compared myself with peers around my age group and education level. Whether I am on par or do I exceed the average. It’s like having an invisible bar to cross in order to feel accomplished. In my own time and methods, I manage to relinquished such thoughts and kept it from affecting my performance. You see, such thoughts can be detrimental. If I surpass the invisible bar, I will feel smug and complacent. If I don’t, I’ll end up feeling miserable. Either way, it’s never a win-win situation.

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Even when I’m a freelancer, the competitive streak in me surface by my obsession to be better and quicker than all those freelancers in the same field, offering the same service. I stress myself on my rates and the amount of work I can intake before realising it is not about the quantity but the quality of work I produce that bring customers back again and again. It is always better to have returning customers than to be on the hunt for new customers everyday. Fortunately for me, I am able to put in place self-corrective measures and enjoy what freelancing is all about – freedom.

Having said that, even as I embrace my new lifestyle status, I couldn’t help but compare whether my baby is heavier /prettier / healthier than other babies. Whether she is eating as much as other babies or is she reaching milestones faster than others. It is a habit hard to quit but I do applaud myself for chiding myself in my mind whenever my thoughts stray towards comparing and competing. Oh yes, I do have a menacing voice in my head. There is nothing to compare and compete in motherhood. In fact, it is downright silly, not to mention harmful to do so because every individual child grows up differently from the next child.

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So avoid saying or thinking ‘he is better at graphs than me’ and ‘I believe she has what it takes to complete the project unlike me’. Instead, ask yourself what can you do to be better at graphs and what you can do to improve yourself to meet the requirements of that project.

Give yourself a break when you find yourself competing against someone else. Nobody is better than you until you allow them to be. Everyone is different, you are different. So celebrate your uniqueness today.

After all, they say your biggest enemy is yourself.

Do you agree? Do you put yourself down as well? Come and share with us your thoughts.


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