As I am lucky enough that I don’t have to work, I have been mostly able to avoid competitiveness when it comes to my friends. I say this because most competitiveness seems to come in the workplace, either through vying for more pay, a fancier office or job title, or actually competing for a promoted position. However, I have experienced snippets of competitiveness outside the workplace too, in terms of who has the best house, the best spouse, the nicer car, the smarter kids or the fanciest holidays.
Thankfully I am not competitive by nature, and I never have been. As a child my father would get upset during sports or games, as he wanted to teach me to be better, to increase my chances of winning. Although I can appreciate this now, as a parent myself, back then I just wanted to play the game and enjoy it… winning was an added bonus, but not something I was overly concerned about. (Note, this does not mean I was a gracious loser?! Lol) Perhaps this was because I expected to fail and wanted to avoid the pressures that come with being good at things, I’m not too sure.
That’s not to say I have never felt envious. Of course, I have. A good friend of mine is currently on a wonderful holiday, who wouldn’t want that?!! The thing is though, I know we also go on wonderful holidays, and I could go ahead and book my own if I really wanted to. Another friend has been very successful in her weight loss journey and maintaining the size that keeps her happy. As always, I continue to fluctuate, and often feel a little jealous that she has been able to keep the weight off! Once again, however, I know if I made better choices, which I could potentially do, although it is extremely unlikely, that I could have similar results.
Then there are the issues that I probably couldn’t change, like my friend with the incredibly bright children. Hard as my children try, they never seem to achieve the seemingly effortless academic awards and sporting trophies that my friend’s children do. The thing is, because I love my kids unconditionally, I don’t need them to be as good as my friend's kids, only as good as they can be. In the end their only competition is with themselves.
I have come to accept we all have our strengths, weaknesses, defeats and triumphs, and I want my friends to have the best they can have to find the happiness and fulfillment they deserve. Just because a successful career isn’t on my priority list, doesn’t mean I don’t understand my ambitious friends for example. I want them to achieve the best they can, and will do what I can to support them. At the end of the day, I know they will be better friends, and better able to support me in my own pursuit of happiness, if they themselves are happy. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
So what can you do if you feel you have a friend who is always putting you down when you succeed, is openly jealous in a negative context, or who seems to need to one up you every step of the way? The simple answer is don’t play her game. Accept your friend’s nature and understand it is likely coming from a place of insecurity within herself. If she needs to feel better than you, than everyone, then let her. If you are genuinely happy and secure with where you are in life,nobody can make you feel less than by having more.
Perhaps you feel she looks down on you in some way, because her lifestyle is more extravagant than your own, but if you consider what you value and what would make you happy, her lifestyle probably isn’t really for you anyway. If she has to go on the same holidays as you do, but stay in the better hotels for example, accept that those luxuries are something she values that make her happy. Don’t look at it as bragging or putting you down when she mentions it, just be happy that she is living her life in a way that makes her happiest, where as you are happier saving the money for use elsewhere. And if you really would like to stay in those hotels, but don’t seem to have the finances to accommodate it, consider either her level of debt, or how you could increase your cash flow. Not to be better than her, but to be happier.
Sometimes you may have a friend who seems to need to bring you down rather than get above you. For example you might buy a new car and she is the first to tell you she read that it didn’t measure up in the safety standards than the other models, or says that sort of car would be too small for her etc…. consider her motives. Perhaps she is the motherly type, who is genuinely concerned for you? If so, consider asking her opinion before you do things, even if you don’t take her advice. She may just value being asked and feeling important even about things that don’t particularly concern her. Otherwise, consider that she is stating her own preference rather than crapping on yours. So that type of car would be too small for her, that doesn’t mean it is wrong for you.
Embrace yourselves and your friends’ differences. Know that sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down. We are all on our own journey’s and what we seek for fulfillment isn’t the same. What we value isn’t the same. If you are pretty happy with your life, you wont feel the need to get dragged into competition. If you aren’t happy with it…. Change it for yourself and compete with your past self, not your friends.
Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so help your friends achieve their best, and be happy to join in the celebrations with them when they do, and don’t forget to include them in your successes too.
Your Best Friend ForNever