General Question

janbb's avatar

When is being competitive unhealthy or obnoxious?

Asked by janbb (51212points) March 17th, 2011

At the pool this morning in Aquacise, the teacher had us do kicking races across the pool. I won several times; being a good swimmer is on of my few athletic accomplishments. Someone next to me said “you’re very competitive” and I felt kinda ashamed. On another occasion, a friend has called me very competitive, I think that was in verbal matters. When is it healthy and when is it “too much”?

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32 Answers

Seelix's avatar

I feel that competition can be healthy. It drives you to do your best, especially in a situation like you’ve described, where fitness is the goal.

I don’t think it becomes obnoxious until you become a sore loser or a sore winner. Be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t throw them in others’ faces, and if someone beats you at your own game, congratulate them sincerely and try harder next time.

Cruiser's avatar

When you are 2nd to last in a race and at the finish line you turn around and yell….“Ha!!! I BEAT YOU!” <<something Lucille would do to me!>> ;))

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Like @Seelix said, a competitive nature is great unless you become arrogant about it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

As @Seelix stated, there is nothing wrong with healthy pride in accomplishments. It’s the attitude after the fact that makes the difference. A dash of humility along with the cup of pride will go a long way to keeping things in check.

gailcalled's avatar

Say something jocular about an area where you don’t do so well. “I am a strong swimmer, but you should see me in the pie-crust-making contest.”

Don’t you dare feel shame. No one is handing out medals or gold ingots, I don’t think?

12Oaks's avatar

Never be ashamed of winning. Put this to good use and start wagering and try to win some bets. It only becomes a problem if you start losing too much. Try going to new pools and try your hand at hustling.

blueiiznh's avatar

Your swim example is completely ok. In fact when doing that kind of thing you want to push yourself as best you can. Thats the whole purpose of exercise!
If your competitive spirit has you racing to finish your meal first or knocking down kids and little old ladies to get the next ticket at the deli counter, then that may be a bit far.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Competitions are great when you have a willing partner to compete with! Competing with yourself is fine too…then there are people whose @$$ you can easily kick…right Cruiser?? Yawn

Cruiser's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Yes you are quite right there! It is also nice to let someone win to show good sportsmanship like I have done for you many times! ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Cruiser Wake up! You’re dreaming again! I would wipe the floor with you in any competition.Even when I’ve tried to let you win,I win!—Very,very frustrating ;)

janbb's avatar

Uh, folks – “General.”

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Competition is one of 34 Strengths identified by The Gallup Organization. We all have it, just in widely varying degrees.

Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.Gallup Organization

According to Gallup, a Strength can become a Weakness when overused. In the case of Competition, it becomes a weakness when the winner rubs it in the face of others or pouts when they lose. Other then that, competition is a good trait.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Gee, @janbb , I don’t see it as competetive when you do something well that you’re good at. I only see it as sensible.

Disc2021's avatar

I think it becomes unhealthy when it trickles into obsession. There are people that are so obsessed with being “The Best” or “Better” than everyone that they actually forget how to just relax, let go and be human.

It’s one thing to make improvements or focuses in a particular area, it’s another when a person is so heavily affixed on the idea of being on top that it begins to affect their mental/psychological health.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@janbb Someone next to me said “you’re very competitive” I would have responded “Yes, I am. I always tell myself I can do better than I did yesterday!”

I would never be ashamed if I could do something well, because I know how many things I either have no clue how to do or am horrible at.

Blueroses's avatar

How do you ever improve if there’s no competition?
We had the competitive shame driven into us in Little League with the politically correct but misguided “Everybody’s a Winner!” concept.
Well, no. No, not everybody or there wouldn’t even be a word for “winner”.

I actually think that attitude was invented to control the obnoxious parents rather than to build self-esteem in the kids.

janbb's avatar

Starting to feel better about it, guys. Thanks!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

One other thought…maybe those that are making these comments to you are highly competitive. We seem to be good at identifying our own characteristics in others, whether it is true or not. I’d be curious to hear why they feel that way in those specific situations. Unless they know you well and see this as a reoccurring pattern, they really have no grounds for making such statements.

One final thought: Basketball professional Michael Jordan once said, “There is no “I” in team; but there is in “Winner”.

janbb's avatar

Well, the friend who made the verbal comment is a self-professed “know-it-all.” The swimming woman I never met before.

lloydbird's avatar

For survival.

Just look at the mess the world is in.
All stemming from competition.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t know. Maybe when someone wants to “race” on how much Lurve you have. (grins)

janbb's avatar

@filmfann Oh you’re just pissed because I’m beating you. :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

In my experience, people with low self esteem often try to belittle the accomplishments of others, especially by using labels that can be derogatory.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I think it’s only “too much” if you push yourself to dangerous/unhealthy situations for the sake of winning.

cockswain's avatar

I’d say when your “competition” isn’t actually trying to compete at the moment, or you keep pouring it full on when you’re clearly way better and dominating in a competition. Specifically, I’m thinking of playing in rec leagues, and some ex-college player steps in and destroys everyone to the last second of the game.

mattbrowne's avatar

Since you used a sports example, here’s a situation when being competitive is obnoxious:

Two offensive players of the same soccer team approaching the goal one with the ball, facing two defensive ones from the other team. The position of the second offensive player is better, but number one is competitive even within his own team. He wants to score the next goal. Be the hero. He misses.

cockswain's avatar

I would say he’s an asshole whether he scores or not.

My work sponsors an indoor soccer league. We’re not that good, but not terrible. Anyways, sometimes there aren’t enough teams so the gold and silver leagues are combined (we finish in the middle of the silver usually). There are gold teams we play that will be beating us 7–0 by the end of the first half and not let up in the second half. You’ll seriously see these guys trying to blast it in from half-field and still playing their hardest with 1 minute left, and now they are up like 14–2. Those are real douchebags.

mattbrowne's avatar

I agree, but maybe narcissist is a better word.

cockswain's avatar

Maybe more civilized, but you’d be challenged to remain so if you saw the looks on their faces.

picante's avatar

Wanting to succeed (win) is healthy. Having to win is unhealthy.

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