Sunday, August 21, 2016

Not a Competition

For the past couple of weeks, people around the world have been watching the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Even if we don’t watch the actual games, we’re bombarded with news articles and social media posts praising all the record breakers and medal winners.  We admire the athletes’ competitive spirit, and root for our favorites (or our country) to win, win, win.

That drive to be the best, the fastest, the most, the everythingest carries over into other aspects of life, and that’s not always a good thing.  It’s not just about being the best we can be, it’s about being better than someone else (or everyone else) – surpassing the Joneses, so to speak.  While some simply take this inspiration and strive to do better, far too many minimize other people’s accomplishments in order to make themselves feel superior.  When taken too far, this can give the impression that whatever we do in life, if we’re not The Best, it’s not good enough.  That we’re not good enough.  And it completely negates the value of our effort, dedication, and accomplishment.

Oddly enough, there seems to be a similar competitiveness when it comes to bad things, as well.  Far too often when we are dealing with a difficult or challenging situation, instead of simply offering sympathy, people feel the need to state that their own crises are worse (whether that’s actually true or not). 
Oh, you sprained your ankle?  I broke my toe last year – now that was painful.
Oh, you lost your job?  I didn’t get that promotion I was hoping for – it’s so unfair. 
Oh, you’re getting divorced?  I still haven’t met anyone on match.com.
By suggesting that their suffering is worse than our suffering, what they are really doing is shutting down the conversation, preventing us from complaining, venting, or just talking about our problem.