This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker based in Cleveland, Ohio. With experience in academic counseling and clinical supervision, Klare received her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983. She also holds a 2-Year Post-Graduate Certificate from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, as well as certification in Family Therapy, Supervision, Mediation, and Trauma Recovery and Treatment (EMDR).
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Being competitive can be good when it helps you push yourself. However, it can become a problem when taken too far. It puts you at odds with everyone, and it can be a product of low self-esteem. To stop being so competitive, try working through the emotions behind it. You can also work on your own self-esteem and try to learn how to celebrate successes in yourself and others.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Working Through Your Emotions Download Article
- 1Figure out your triggers. It's important to figure out what triggers your feelings of competitiveness and jealousy. Maybe you get jealous at work when someone else does better than you, or maybe you let losing at a board game get to you. Whatever your triggers are, starting to identify them can help you take control of situations where you're too competitive.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- When you feel yourself getting angry or irritable, ask yourself, "Is it because I'm jealous?"
- 2Figure out why something triggers your competitiveness. Next, it's important to identify why these things trigger your competitiveness. Maybe you get competitive at work because you never did very well in school, and you're trying to make up for it. Maybe you feel competitive at board games because you always felt less-than with siblings.XResearch source
- To figure out why things triggers, spend some time writing about it in a journal or talking about it with a trusted friend. Keep digging deeper to find the source.
- 3Re-think competitiveness at the moment. When you're feeling competitiveness rage up, take a moment to stop yourself and re-think. Is your competitiveness from jealousy? Is your jealousy merited? Try to remember where your jealousy is stemming from. It's usually not from the current situation, so reminding yourself of that fact can help you calm the jealous beast.
- 4Stop making comparisons. When you see other people doing well, it can be easy to want to compare your life with theirs. When you compare, you scrutinize both of your lives and tally up who is better. On the other hand, being competitive without the comparisons can spur you forward, as long as you aren't basing all your worth on the competition.XResearch source
- Instead, realize that no one succeeds at the same pace. You are right where you need to be right now, and you are enough.
- 5Check your black and white thinking. Often, people who are competitive or jealous will also think in absolute terms. In other words, you may think that if someone else gets praised at work, that means your work has been awful. In reality, someone else doing well doesn't mean you're not doing well, nor does it negate how well you're doing.XResearch source
- 6Stop thinking of love as finite. Sometimes, competitiveness springs from jealousy that other people are getting more attention or praise than you. In other words, if your boss praises someone else's work, you start to feel jealous and competitive because it makes you feel like your boss doesn't value your work. However, love and praise are not finite resources. Your boss or loved one can praise someone else and still value what you do, even if they don't say it at the same time.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Increasing Your Self-Esteem Download Article
- 1Be compassionate to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes or has times when they're feeling low. The important thing is to treat yourself with compassion, just as you'd treat a good friend. Don't beat yourself up for every little mistake. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and move on.XTrustworthy SourceGreater Good MagazineJournal published by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, which uses scientific research to promote happier livingGo to source
- For instance, you could say to yourself, "Yes, I made a mistake, but it's not the worst thing in the world. I'll do better next time."
- Increasing your self-esteem overall helps you become less competitive. Often, if you're a very competitive person, your self-esteem may be dependent on you doing well. If you fail at something, your self-esteem also falls. Learning to hold on to your self-worth no matter the situation can help you become less competitive.XResearch source
- 2Work on interpreting situations differently. Often, people with low self-esteem interpret situations in ways that continue to suppress their self-esteem. They often take a negative approach, when in reality, many people around them are looking at the situation differently.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- For instance, you may blow things out of proportion; you make a mistake and think that everyone sees you as a failure. Instead, try to put that in proportion. Was the mistake really that big a deal? Did anyone actually say that you are a failure or not up to the job?
- Other times, you may take your successes and turn them into failures. For example, you might say, "My boss praised that report, but it was only good because I used the numbers from accounting." Instead, it's important to celebrate your successes when they come.
- You might also think that what you're feeling is absolute fact. If you're feeling like an idiot, you may think everyone else sees you that way, too, when in reality, they all likely have respect for you.
- Another way you may interpret situations negatively is to take small, non-relevant indicators as proof that something is wrong. For instance, if you text someone and they don't text back for a few days, you may think, "My friend must hate me at the moment," when in reality, there are plenty of reasons they might not have replied, including they may not have seen the text.
- 3Remember no one is perfect. With every mistake you make, you may want to kick yourself. However, remember that no one can achieve perfection. You have to realize that everyone makes mistakes. When you realize that, it makes it easier to live on your own, knowing that perfection is impossible.XResearch source
- Don't forget to adjust your vision of yourself. You change and grow over time, and so do your abilities. That means that you can't judge yourself by a past version of yourself. For instance, maybe you were once stellar at science, but you've let those skills slide in favor of other ones. That's fine, just keep in mind you're not the scientist you once were, but now you can make a killer omelet or write an amazing article.XResearch source
- 4Focus on the positive. If you have low self-esteem, you probably notice what's wrong in every situation or how you could have done better. However, you also need to pat yourself on your back for what you did right. Focusing on what you did right can help build your confidence and remind you how far you've come.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- For instance, maybe you wrote a paper for class. You may find yourself focusing on all the mistakes you made. Instead, think about how far you've come. Read a paper from a year ago, and you're bound to see how you've improved.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Learning to Celebrate Instead of Compete Download Article
- 1Have admiration instead of jealousy. If you see qualities or successes you like in another person, try striving to admire the person rather than be jealous of them. In other words, use their success as a way to set a goal for yourself, rather than letting it turn into envy.XResearch source
- When you start feeling jealous, which can lead to competitiveness, think about all that person did to get where they are. Admire their hard work and determination. You can even ask them how they achieved what they did, so you can learn from them.
- For instance, maybe a friend is getting a book published, a long time dream of yours. You could choose to be jealous, and turn that jealousy into competitiveness. On the other hand, you could choose admiration. Your friend has accomplished something amazing, and you can use that to inspire you to finish your own novel.
- 2Compliment others sincerely. If you're competitive, you may have problems reveling in other's success. Learning to be non-competitive means learning to celebrate those successes with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you see someone doing something great, compliment them. You may not always feel the sentiment, but just voicing it can help you work towards being genuinely supportive.XResearch source
- For instance, if you notice your co-worker has done an excellent job on a project, you could say, "Thanks for putting all of this together, Janine. You're really great at organizing!"
- Don't limit yourself to people you know. If you read an article online that you love, tell the author. If you notice someone doing a good job at a store, tell them. It never hurts to make someone's day better.
- 3Remember we're all connected. When you want to compete with others all the time, you likely see them as outside of your experience. You may not see the trials they go through to get there, making you feel like a failure. Therefore, acknowledging your own pain as something that's common can help you see where others work hard, too. You're not alone in your experiences, and therefore, you have people to take the journey with, not just compete against.XTrustworthy SourceGreater Good MagazineJournal published by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, which uses scientific research to promote happier livingGo to source
- 4Practice gratitude. A competitive nature often comes from counting other's blessings more than your own. Then you end up feeling jealous and wanting to get ahead. Instead, learn to be grateful for what you do have by incorporating gratitude into your everyday life.XResearch source
- Try thinking about all the things you're grateful for before you get out of bed in the morning.
- You could also try a gratitude journal. Take the time to write down 5 things you're grateful for every day. You can do it in a private journal, or you can even do it on social media, making a post each day about the things you're grateful for.
About This Article
It can be hard to deal with being competitive, but if you work through what you're feeling, it’ll be easier to overcome. Competitive people are often too hard on themselves, so try to be kinder to yourself when you make mistakes. For instance, you could tell yourself, “I didn’t win this time, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’ll do better next time.” If you’re jealous of someone else’s accomplishments, try to be happy for them instead. It may be hard, but giving them a sincere compliment can help you turn your competitiveness into admiration. If you're still feeling competitive, try practicing gratitude so you'll feel less inclined to prove yourself to other people. You could think about things you're grateful for every morning when you wake up or keep track of them in a journal. To learn how to work on improving your self-esteem, read on.