Reflections on competition in the Olympics
Reflecting on an award I got when I was in grade eight some years ago: I was voted the Student most likely to achieve. Remembering this I was reflecting on the negative emotions that losing brings to most people. There’s been much discussion about the positive aspects of competition in these last three weeks. Rarely do we hear anyone speaking out against the whole idea of. It’s always nice to win of course. But for every one who wins, there’s a heck of a lot of losers.
Now spiritually speaking, one needs eventually to be able to come to the point where one has such inner equanimity that winning or losing can be treated the same – they’re both illusions after all in this game of life we play. To engage your emotions either way to the extent that you become “out of yourself” is to be caught up in the illusion that things outside you have a reality.
You see this to a certain extent in the Olympians’ training, a good portion of which centres on attitude, mindset, and developing a resistance to the vagaries of others opinions, others unwarranted negative comments. Most try to develop a clear quiet mind not disturbed by fears and negative expectations. In the ancient Taoist text The Seven Toaist Masters one of the ancients, expounding on how we need to control our emotions says that you need to arrive at the point where you can have a mountain crash before you and still be able to keep your inner equanimity.
So I would posit that competition is detrimental to growth. One child in the class of 30 that has something no one else has but everyone wants. That only increases feelings of not being good enough and lowers one’s self esteem. Losing increases fears more often than it increases ones’ determination to want to do better. The old theory used to be that for a child to succeed they need to be given lots of failure. It’s true for those few whose self-esteem is already at a healthy level. For most it’s another nail in the coffin of self-worth. Re-reading Ramtha, it’s interesting that he points to competition as the one thing that began the downward spiral of the human race. We need more “WE” thinking and less “you v.s. me thinking.”
M.B. is a retired school teacher, who is working on a book on the effects of low level violence and the scaring of young children. Visit the website FrightFree.com