Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is Your Competitive Spirit Helping or Hindering You
Recently an acquantance related a personal experience concerning their competitive spirit and I immediately knew I wanted to share it.

This person played a recreational sport. He played weekly. Once weekly. Despite playing so infrequently he had a picture in his mind that needed to play like a professional. He need to win!
Unfortunately when you play any sport once a week your chances of excelling and winning aren't terribly high. So when his score would be less than he thought it would, or he missed a shot he thought he should hit he would become angry. This anger didn't stay internal and he would yell, throw things in an effort to vent his self anger. Since he was playing this recreational sport with others his anger impacted their enjoyment of the game.

He realized that he wasn't enjoying this nor were his buddies. So he did an amazing thing. He removed himself from the sport for several years and when he knew he could relate to it in a more healthy way he returned. He no longer gets angry with himself because he doesn't have any false ideas about what he can achieve.

Misguided Competitive Spirit can turn you into a couch potato. Say you love swimming but you're always mentally carrying around the stats from 30 years ago when you were on the college swim team. It could set you up to strive for a goal you might never reach. How much fun is it to strive for an impossible goal? I personally think that it's healthier to acknowledge where you are right now, set some realistic goals and enjoy finding out where regular swimming will take you over time. Who knows? You may surprise yourself and hit those stats but your enjoyment of reconnecting with swimming is not dependent upon it.

Competive spirit can be great when it drives us to achieve more than we thought we could. But in order to be healthy we need to be balanced and realistic about competition.

Take me and running. Let's face it. I'm a short legged woman of a certain age who loves distance running but has little time to train these days. Chances of me winning races are nil. If I approach running with an "only winning counts" attitude and "every run must be fast and long" I'm setting myself up for frustration and mostly likely injury. Could I be faster? With plenty of time to train and recover - maybe but it's just not realistic with that I have going on in my life right now. So I tell myself that I am grateful for being a slow runner because it gives me the chance to take in the scenery that is just a blur to the fast runners. I enjoy the sport despite not being particularly gifted. I acknowledge my imperfect perfection where it comes to running.

How about you? Are you at a place in your life where you can embrace your imperfectly perfect self?

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