The difference between unhealthy and healthy competition

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

I was doing my yoga practice today when this word came to my mind, so I decided to write about it today. I observed competition first in Hatha and Kundilini Yoga class and learned a lot about myself from this aspect. As a graduated economist, competition is in my studies and profession, but I have come across competition much earlier in my life: in primary school in contests and races, in writing my tests to get into a better high school and when composing an essay to win a scholarship to live in the States.

I am sure you can make your own list about competitive situations in your life. My yoga practice showed me other, less obvious places where I compete:

Competition is part of our lives, but seeing the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition was a true eye-opener for me. Striving to do better can motivate us to move beyond our known capabilities, but if the motive of the game is to defeat the other (e.g. in a conversation with a loved one where we compete for the last word or for who is right) than it can be destructive.

As a grown-up person now I know I do not have to compete for my mother’s attention with my sister – we both get her attention. Competing with my fellow yoga students distracted me from my own experience – I was more interested in their performance than my trials, so competition obstructed my learning. Competing with colleagues can have its benefits for a career, but definitely hindrances teamwork. And my ever challenging competition arena: my children know everything better than your children – what is the purpose of these sentences? To make me feel proud, which leaves the other parent to feel bad. And does it serve the children to push them into a nonsense competition? You guessed it right, no.

Now it is your turn, write a list of competition in your life! Here are some starting questions, as always, feel free to add your own:

Now that you have observed competition in your life, look at your list and mark which is a healthy competition, and what is unhealthy – meaning it blocks you from something important (learning, cooperation, peace, etc.). Harvest your learning points.


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