Awareness, Ayurveda, Psychology, Spiritual Journey, Yoga

Working With Competitive Mind + The Compulsion To Compare

Hey fiery pittas!

This one’s for you!

It’s also for those with a lot of fire in their astrological charts, Type A personalities, and anyone who notices their own flaming competitiveness, ambition, drive, and passion.

So you have a competitive mind?

Join the club.

You’re in GREAT company.

Lots of CEOs and powerful people here.

And it’s all good.

Until it’s not…

I notice my competitive mind working even in relatively non-competitive environments.

At an old job, I used to watch my mind.

My mind wanted to be the best.

It wanted me to work the fastest, hardest, smartest, and most efficiently.

It wanted to be recognized for its hard work and given more and more responsibility.

At times, it wanted to compare itself to other employees. It wanted to make itself feel superior by looking down others.

Now drive and ambition can be quite awesome…don’t get me wrong.

But, hopefully you see how this can be neurotic and unhealthy.

I noticed my competitive mind sought to isolate me from my co-workers. It sought to create more separation between us and to erect barriers to connection.

For me, that was a red flag. It was a sign to notice how this pattern is deeply karmically entrenched in my history.

The pattern has cropped up in body comparisons since adolescence, getting sick over my need to win in competitive horse back riding as a child and adolescent, feeling like crap about myself in college because I perceived everyone to be smarter than me, and having a terrible time at grad school because I could not skillfully work with my need to be the best.

So how does one work with competitive mind?

Step one, as usual, is to notice that competitive mind is operating.

Notice the thoughts. Notice the judgments and comparisons.

Usually, after awareness enters the picture, things get interesting.

Those barriers the competitive mind erected to separate you from others fall away.

Relaxed energy replaces nervousness, anxiety, and neurosis.

Step two is to get really present with the task at hand.

Really drop into the moment.

Drop into the process.

Be where you are riding the horse, doing your job, writing your paper, or giving your presentation.

If the competitiveness was manifesting as body comparisons, be entirely present in your body. Shift the focus back to yourself, and notice what’s happening inside you.

Step three is to repeat as needed. And trust me, you will need to do this again and again.

Every time this competitive energy and compulsion to compare manifests, I do my best to be aware that it is arising, and to be present to whatever I’m doing.

Ride the energy, rather than let it ride you.

When it happens in yoga class, I will literally fall over if I can’t bring the focus back to myself and my practice. Yoga forces me to let go of my compulsion to compare my body or my practice to others.

And, I get so much more benefit out of my practice when I can focus.

If needed, tweak your lifestyle and environment to support your fiery disposition.

My Ayurveda teacher in India recommended that those of us with pitta minds choose to spend time in nature, work in noncompetitive environments, be our own bosses, and/or work with children.

I find all of these to be very helpful.

Advanced Practice

The most advanced practice of working with competitive energy is to channel it for good.

Channel it into your creative work, your own business, your fitness routine, a grand challenge or adventure, raising awareness for a cause, or simply your ability to be present with others (healing work).

But notice when it becomes neurotic, unhealthy, or unsustainable.

Notice when it damages your health or your relationships.

Notice when it separates you from other people.

The advanced practice is to dance the line between harnessing the competitive energy to create a force for good and letting it burn you out.

Awareness, acceptance, nonjudgment/compassion, and patience are critical qualities to cultivate. They will protect you from being burnt by the fires of competitiveness and comparison.

Final Thoughts

Don’t feel compelled to squash or dampen your fire.

And don’t hang around people who suggest that you should.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of here.

You were blessed with this fire energy in the first place to do good.

Now it’s time to learn to masterfully work with it.

Namaste, friend.

How do you skillfully work with the energy of competition and the compulsion to compare yourself to others? Let me know in the comments below!

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