There are people out there who are competitive at all costs.
“Ultra-competitors,” as used on this page, are those who seemingly seek to make every aspect of existence a competition. Anything that you do around them will be outdone, and you’ll constantly feel them tugging at your competitive strings.
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 those same traits run amok.
There are cons to being ultra-competitive. The fact that someone aims to win all games within life does not make them a winner at life as a whole. Your competitive spirit should have a direct and fruitful focus. It should not be a wide-ranging, all encompassing trait which is powered by swallowing all the joy in life.
This article is about dealing with people who go out of their way to create competitions at your contentment’s expense.
The Ultra-Competitor That Ultra-Stresses Everyone Out
Knowing when to turn our competitive traits off is a hard line to draw in the sand. The people who do not have such lines defined are stressful to others; as they will scurry to win short-term competitions which you get dragged into for no reason other than to fulfill that person’s competitive desires.
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 as they don’t have a tuned ability to intrinsically motivate themselves. They thereby use people as punching bags in their own journey toward self-improvement. At its core, it is a habit predicated on leaching others’ joy and motivation.
Such individuals 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 overall sense of peace.
Creating New 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 such individuals regularly, you’ve likely already noticed them sizing you up, making comments on your progress, and voicing tidbits which serve to place them ahead of you in a goal you both share. 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 an effort to entice the ultra-competitor to latch on. As achieving success in these side competitions would be meaningless, you’d rid yourself of the stress involved in losing the games you conjure. The ultra competitor in your life would get their satisfaction of winning against you, whilst you serve to take a little bit of focus away from your efforts to enjoy other things you enjoy.
If you want to go for some extra benefit in this regard, create competitions which benefit yourself and other parties involved. 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.
Re-framing Which Bush Yields Better Fruit
Challenging traditional metrics of what success in a particular field entails is another effective method in limiting the pressure these people exhibit on you. As the earlier section mentioned creating other competitions as distractions, this section is about re-framing what makes someone successful in the current competitions.
For instance, you may experience another student in your class bragging about how many pages in the textbook they’ve read and asking you about your results. Re-framing the competition to value how much of the information you’ve actually retained from reading what you read is a good strategy to counter their emphasis on pages read.
You may thereby say that you only read a small amount of material, but that you tested yourself on that material with a multiple choice quiz, or a challenging yourself to write out a summary of what you’ve read.
In doing so, you’d thereby re-frame the competition to something this competitor does not see value in competing for, and thereby give yourself some breathing room to operate on your own.
That competitor would either double down on reading the most amount of pages, or they’d start competing with you on emphasizing how much information they’ve retained. Either way, you’d have lowered the pressure, and would give yourself room to always operate according to metrics opposite to theirs.
Being Unpredictable in Your Acts of Self-Improvement
Ultra-competitors latch onto behavior they see patterns in and try to beat you at those patterns. They do so by moving the goalposts and redefining the metrics of what makes someone successful at doing what you do.
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 fluffier cakes will less sugar, and more love. If you ask a good question at a work meeting, they’ll turn into an inquisitive correspondent for the day.
Ultra-competitors often latch onto the behaviors they see others doing which shine a light on an area of themselves that needs improvement. They’ll not only be bothered by the other person’s desire to improve. They’ll also hate the fact that another person’s improvement highlights a thing they’ve neglected about themselves.
Keeping individuals who drag you away from being intrinsically motivated at bay may be important to you. You may value the peaceful process of getting better at something because you want to, without the added pressure of the commentary and parading someone else may exhibit in an effort to place themselves above you.
In an attempt to limit those subtle comments and demeaning dialogue in an effort to drag you into a competition, being unpredictable in your actions may help.
Limit the information about your behavior that these competitors receive. The key is to not show there to be a pattern in your behavior to improve yourself.
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.