Competition: How It’s Only Holding You Back

This past week we hosted an amazing discussion between several female leaders in fitness on Community Over Competition in our industry.


We covered topics ranging from sexism in the workplace to social media woes. We discussed our feelings about why women express more competitiveness than men and how we can expand our individual horizons by trying out new things in order to overcome personal insecurities.


If you’re interested, you can listen in on the entire conversation here.


But today I wanted to focus on the idea of competition YOU feel.

This can be felt in two-fold, the first being how you (1) compare yourself to others and the second being (2) how you compete with yourself.


In our Females in Fitness discussion, we brought up the notion of healthy competition and unhealthy competition. Although there can be ways to compete in a motivational way, I will specifically be speaking to the negative repercussions that come along with competition.


Firstly, competition with others.


We feel competitive with others when we compare ourselves to them. This can be physically, mentally, professionally, or even within relationships. Through this process, we pass judgments - judgments on others and judgments about ourselves.


This can be detrimental to your overall health and wellness for a multitude of reasons, some of which being:

  • You don’t have the full picture of someone else’s life, so you’re basing your judgments on a portion of the picture as opposed to the whole story.

  • The judgments you’re making are often based on the ideals of a society, upbringing, or culture, meaning they’re not inherently good or bad the way you’re defining them.

  • Your reflection upon yourself as not measuring up to meet another person’s standards creates feelings of self-doubt, lowered self-esteem, and a lack of confidence.


The way in which we feel we measure up to others creates unhealthy patterns in the way we think of ourselves in the world. When we’re younger, it’s healthy to compare as you build up your own sense of self. But as we’re adults, it becomes more important to reflect inward for standards than seeking validation or acknowledgment elsewhere.


Second, competition with yourself.


Again, there are healthy versions of competition that encourage motivated choices. But today, we’re honing in on the negative effects of competition. So when you compete internally with yourself, there are certain types of language or expectations that don’t serve you in the long run.


The ways in which solo competition can be detrimental to your health include:

  • Overtraining or physically damaging your body in order to meet unrealistic expectations.

  • Creating an unhealthy relationship with food in the hopes of transforming your body.

  • Using language that is harsh, critical, or even cruel towards yourself. (i.e. “You’ve never been good enough.” or “If you could just work harder, eat better, or be more disciplined you would reach your goals.”)

  • Your sense of self-worth tends to be lower if you’re constantly feeling like you’re not reaching your goals so that you have to keep competing.


When we compete with ourselves, we aren’t always able to set SMART goals, so we often feel like we’ve let ourselves down over and over again when they’re not reached.


When we compete with ourselves, the process of making healthy choices becomes no longer enjoyable but a forced mission to be accomplished.

So as you reflect on the competition you may feel within to continue striving, I hope that you’ll think critically about what it may be doing to you in the long run. Take some time to think about or journal on the language you use to encourage yourself.


We thrive when being motivated and encouraged in a positive way.


We strive for more when we’re being supported and held up, as opposed to being torn down by competitive language or imagery.


Your competitive nature might have served you before, but it might be the very thing that is holding you back now.


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