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How to make sure your competitive streak doesn't get ugly

You can be 'top' of your game, without bringing others down.

Behavioural psychologist Dr Helgo Schomer advises that there's a nastiness to competitiveness, no matter what the field.

It's vital to recognise when your competitive streak becomes unhealthy.

When we feel we have to pull someone else down and discredit them so that we feel better, that's the nastiness.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Competitiveness is a double-edged sword: it can be destructive and instructive, Dr. Schomer explains.

When it is destructive and unhealthy, people want to destroy and diminish anything standing in their way.

But when it is instructive and healthy, people can learn and grow from others.

Dr. Schomer warns that ugly competitiveness can become synonymous with greed, envy, narcissism, self-denial and jealously.

He advises that when competing, people must 'let go' and stop obsessing about the outcome, and rather focus on the creative process.

There may always be someone taller, smarter, prettier, stronger, faster or more skilled in life - but we must always participate and accept the need for balance.

How to stay on the right track when pursing your desires and ambitions:

  • do not compete with the best, surround yourself with the best
  • relax and harness calm energy
  • show generosity
  • focus on self-growth and strength

When the competition is shared, and seen as necessary social event to bring out the best in us, then it's healthy.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

When competition only glorifies one part or person, it's not healthy.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Signs of healthy competitiveness:

  • appreciation for a challenge
  • generosity
  • positive thoughts
  • praise and encouragement

Signs of unhealthy competitiveness:

  • lying and scheming
  • self-sabotage
  • diminishing others
  • sinister thoughts
  • creating a false image of yourself

Listeners called in to share their experiences and questions about competitiveness.

Listen to Dr Schomer's expert advice here:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How to make sure your competitive streak doesn't get ugly


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