The Reason Competition Keeps Us Small

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We live in an age where many of us are starting to follow our passions instead of formulas that were laid out for us. Our own dreams instead of those of our parents, friends, loved ones or even strangers expectations of us. While that’s so, so amazing, it doesn’t mean that our ingrained beliefs just suddenly change as well. Sure, some of the easier ones to recognize might, but those deeply rooted ones we had no idea we actually held? Following your own path is going to trigger those suckers like nothing you ever imagined.

 

While I held and could identify all the “normal” ones we talk about (not knowing how to say no, people pleasing, needing to have everything perfectly planned...) I had no idea that I was deeply competitive. I’ve been taught to compare myself to others, and to always be the best. My thing was always academics - my grades were usually the highest, I won quite a few awards with it, and it’s what I was known for. It was always framed in a way of being the best I could for me, but somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that if I’m not the best, then I’m not worthy. Also, it taught me that there’s only a limited about of success (whatever that means) to go around, and if I’m not the best then someone else is, and there won’t be enough left for me.

 

This belief has been triggered so subtly that I didn’t realize it was a thing until I started my business. I know it seems obvious writing it out, but for me it always showed up as fear of the future or the unknown. It was never an obvious “I need to be better than everyone else or there won’t be enough left for me”. And it was never an issue when it was strangers - I usually recognize that their success doesn’t impact mine. It took a friend doing something (sort of, not really) similar to what I do at a market I was at to smack me over the head and say “hey - pay attention”.

 

I want to cheer the people I love on! I want their successes to be celebrated as much as my own! I want to be happy for others and have that build on my own happiness, not take away from it. And yet I had all these uncomfortable feelings about my own worth coming up. Fear that people would choose their stuff over mine and that they wouldn’t have enough money or interest to buy from me. That I wouldn’t make enough at the market to pay our bills or expenses. That there will always be someone out there who trumps me and there won’t be “enough” for me.

 

But here’s the thing - the universe is endless. Truly. There is more than enough for all of us. What is meant to happen will happen. People choose different makers because there is something about them that draws them in, calls to them, makes them feel good. It’s not because their product is “better”, it’s just different, just as what we need or are looking for is different. And it’s not an all or nothing situation - there is balance and endless options. Being competitive keeps us small, it does not make us the best or the best version of ourselves. It makes us feel unworthy, unlovable, and isolated. My goal is to get down to that core belief that I am unworthy, and work on that sucker. Because really - that belief is at the root of all my anxieties, fears and worries. And it simply isn’t true.