There are people out there who are competitive at all costs.
Ultra-competitors, as defined by this article, are those who seemingly seek to make every aspect of existence a competition. Anything that you do around them will be met with a challenge, and you will be thrown into competition without expressed agreement. Becoming “successful” in comparison to others, is often perceived as being built on an ultra-competitive mindset and utmost dedication to your craft. These traits are positive influences toward reaching your goals, but are also a precursor to a life filled with altercation and deception, if they go unchecked.
There are cons to being ultra-competitive, and the fact that you aim to win at all things in life does not make you a winner at life. Your competitive spirit should have a direct focus, and not be a wide-ranging, all encompassing trait. You must know who to compete against, what to compete for, and what constitutes victory. The people who do not have these things defined are dangerous, as they will do anything to win short-term conjured up competitions which you did not know you were participating in.
A pillar tactic of ultra-competitive people is to entice you into competition they know they have an advantage in. They feed off others to better themselves and do not have a tuned ability to intrinsically motivate themselves. Rather, they have an instinct of measuring improvement as it compares to others. If you live, work, or go to school with people like this, it creates a miserable experience for you. Though they may not explicitly voice their competitive stance against you, their interactions with you often show subtle signs of a competition taking place.
What makes them dangerous to your mental well-being, is that they often begin competing with you in something which you personally identify with. They will begin to challenge your dedication to a craft you perceived yourself to be dedicated toward, and will downplay your achievements in a hobby you’re proud of. Especially if you can’t ignore these individuals (roommates, family, coworkers, etc.) navigating around them can be a strain on your contentment.
Create Competitions Which Distract
There are things we like doing which we prefer not to always be on edge about and competing in. Things like going to the gym, enjoying a yoga session, or reading a book are activities conducive to self-improvement which ultra-competitors can latch onto and begin competing against you in. If you see them regularly, they will begin sizing you up, making comments on your progress, and attempt to voice information which serves to place them ahead of you in a mutual goal. Their constant need for competition however, can be used to create some space for you to enjoy leisurely activities.
People like this are likely to latch onto any form of competition, a fact which you can utilize to distract from the things you’d rather not be thrown into competition for. Create competitions unrelated to things you enjoy doing in order to entice the ultra-competitor to latch onto. You will likely lose these faux-competitions you conjure up in an effort to distract the other person. As such they’d get their satisfaction of winning against you, whilst the competitions they win will be of little meaning to you.
If you want to gain extra benefit in this regard, create competitions which benefit you. For example, create a competitive environment with your roommate when cleaning around the house. It will allow them to release their competitive juices as well as provide benefit for the greater whole.
Be Unpredictable in Your Acts of Self-Improvement
Ultra-competitors latch onto behavior they see patterns in and try to beat you at those patterns. If you begin jogging in the morning, an ultra-competitor will start jogging earlier in the morning than you. If you begin baking your own cakes, an ultra-competitor will begin baking better cakes. If you ask a good question at a meeting, they’ll begin attempting to seem more valuable to the meeting than you seem to be. Ultra-competitors often latch onto the behaviors they see others doing in an effort to improve themselves, and will be bothered by the other person’s desire to improve.
In order to keep ultra-competitors away from enticing you to compete in things you are doing to improve yourself via intrinsic motivators, you should be unpredictable in your actions and motivations when around them. Limit the information about your behavior that these competitors receive. Being thrown into a competition you did not sign up for is not a fun time, especially if it surrounds a hobby or trait which you hold personal pride in. The other person has already won if they get you to compete for something you merely enjoyed doing for leisure.
If you live with these people or see them every day, limit how predictable your behavior is in their eyes. Be covert about your goals for self-improvement and limit how much you brag about running all those kilometers or reading all those pages. Be unpredictable and limited in your prideful discourse to ensure you don’t have anybody breathing down your neck aiming to run more kilometers and read more pages.