Are Competition Commandos Controlling Your Brain?

By Guest Blogger   |  18Comments|

It’s safe to say that I’ve been known to have a bad attitude when it comes to meeting new people. And though I’ve become more open over time, my husband is still programmed to say, “Babe, I know you don’t like new people, but there is someone you really have to meet.” Bizarre, right? What’s up with that? I’m a happy, outgoing, easy with a smile, kind of a person. I like people. My job revolves around supporting, listening and inspiring people. So why the bizarre wave of uncomfortability with new interactions?

One word, my dearie … competition. Oy dear lawd, not this topic … again! No one likes to look at their emotional junk, and yes, we all have junk. It’s tough work slogging through the stuff and honestly, this murky pile o’mess stinks.

As a food and body coach, I’d like to think I’m up there with being accountable and open with what’s going on with me. I’ve got to walk my talk, right? But this thing, this competition thing, still twists and ties me up like nothing else. And it’s why I used to avoid new people, especially new women. What if they were smarter than me, more successful than me, happier than me, thinner than me, richer than me, and (God forbid!) funnier than me? Well, that was just way too much for my delicate flower soul to handle. Nope, I decided it was much safer to just keep to myself, do my work and not be intimidated by the outside world.

Seems brilliant in theory, right? You know, conquer the world all by yourself from your home office. But as it turns out, you simply can’t. Any happy, deeply contented, authentic and yes, emotionally (and physically) healthy person is well connected. I’m not talking about my grandmother’s version of well connected, which means having the Marchioness of Bath in your Rolodex (true story), though those connections certainly don’t hurt. But rather, to live a wondrous, inspiring and truly fulfilling life you’ve got to be well connected to a group of open, authentic rock-star women who have your best interests at heart.

These are women who love and support you when you just don’t have the strength to do so yourself. And we all, no matter how enlightened and how Zen we are, have those moments when it seems impossible to love ourselves.These women feed off your innate awesomeness and give it back ten-fold. They are the ones magically armed and ready with tissues and dark chocolate when it’s breakdown time. And these are the women who hold the space and inspire you to create, express and shine as the unique woman you are! Sometimes you’ve got to search for these beautiful women and sometimes they simply fall into your lap. But first, you’ve got to be open to creating genuine connection, which means, big shocker, unleashing the real YOU.

News flash — Being the real you is scary as hell. Believe me, I know. I thought I was being the real me for years until I realized my perpetual undercurrent of self-flagellation, judgment and resentment was a symptom of the real me (my authentic self) trying to get out. (It’s complicated but we will get there.) Exposing the truest pieces of YOU is undeniably  liberating; however, in doing so, you open yourself up to questions, comments and (oy!) judgmental concerns!

OK, let’s take a deep breath. I’m not talking about vomiting your life story onto every female passerby. That would be over-sharing. But telling your carefully selected, trusted wonder-women what’s really going on behind that giant stone wall you’ve erected around yourself is essential in fully loving your body, your food, your family and your many imperfections.

So here’s what you are going to do. Rather than stay small and stoic, simultaneously believing you know everything and nothing and don’t need support because you are a smart woman and can figure it all out by yourself, thank you very much, you are going to seek out a lady friend and share your current feelings. This might be nails-on-a- chalkboard uncomfortable at first. Keep going. A touch of emotional pain is the sign we are gettin’ to the good stuff. And as I like to say, you’ve got to go through the pain and fright to taste the love and light!

Now notice, once you do this, how easily you swap out the repressive feelings of competition for connection. It’s almost as if they do it on their own. And how is that?

Because destructive competition cannot survive among authentic connection. With competition peeled away, suddenly there is enough for all and the need to compare your body, your health, your business and your life to everyone with a va-jay-jay, melts away. It’s a freakin’ miracle!

This is a HUGE topic that we women rarely let ourselves discuss. So tell me … where have you seen competition halt your health, business and body love? What do you do to calm the cracked-out, competitive commandos in your brain?

Jamie G. Dougherty is a food and body coach who empowers savvy women to finally break through their body barriers and see their life, body luv and business fully bloom! She is the author two wildly popular digital cookbooks, is a columnist for SpaWeek.com and has been featured on Martha Stewart Radio and ABC’s “View from the Bay.”

Photo credit: pamhule

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18 responses to Are Competition Commandos Controlling Your Brain?
  1. Ani said on July 30, 2012

    Hi Jamie,

    Awesome post, brilliant timing!! I am a nutritionist and I support women who want to explore their emotional eating patterns……and I also, still, find it challenging and uncomfortable to meet new people. In terms of competition I tend to look at other women and feel as though they are ‘doing it better than me’ and I cannot compete with that – which I know, (and I teach), isn’t true….but that voice tends to show up and seed some self doubt! At the moment I am building my business and these thoughts are showing up a lot. However, I am a constant student of radical self-love and so I am feeling the fear and doing it anyway! This weekend I had a wedding reception to attend and almost didn’t go (you can choeck out my blog for more about this story) but I did go and I survived with a smile!!!

    Thanks again for this great post
    Loving regards
    -England UK

  2. This is so true with me too!!! Since I started my blog I’m more “me” than I’ve been in a long time, and people (especially at work) get to know new sides of me… it’s freeing, but I still feel that I’m not 100% me all the time… but I’m working on it!! Great Post, thanks!!

  3. Ani, I completely get where you are coming from and many congrats on feeling the fear and doing it anyway! With fear, I also like to think about it like this. Fear is simply excitement without the breath. See how that may change your fear and let me know how it goes!

    Ulli, sharing more of “you” is certainly difficult in the beginning. It feels vulnerable yet it really is the best way to connect with those around you. As you know, the more you do it the more free you will feel. Much love!

  4. I devoured this. Thank your for the very inspiring post.

    Sometimes we think other women are more in touch with their authentic selves and that can be intimidating. But, we all have so much so share with the world, we need only follow our intuition and dreams. By sharing and not shying away from other women we get to know different parts of ourselves and help lift each other to new heights and challenges.

    Great reminder Jamie. Thank you again.

  5. Exactly Nicholette. Very well said. Much love and I’m thrilled you got so much out of the post!

  6. WOW!!! This was so enlightening! I TOTALLY do this! And I could never figure out why. I HATE meeting new people and am always anxious and even cantankerous when I have to do it. I couldn’t understand why. It feels, and is, so irrational and self-defeating! Now it all makes sense! AH! I can deal with this now that I know what it is! Thank you, Jamie! Sincerely!

  7. Hi Jamie,
    Love this post! I was thinking that this did not apply to me… then realized (with a laugh) that I am a crazy, competitive MOMMY! I feel confident about my parenting skills… that is until I see the perfect highlights, perfect hair cut, lulu lemon-wearing mommy pusing the $700 stroller with the perfectly behaved dog at her side and the clean, designer-dressed, UVA protection bonnet-wearing baby in the stroller. This mommy from hell is walking (not running!) to drop her older, clean, designer-dressed child at school ON TIME. I go nuts!

    I think you are suggesting that it is time to let those feelings go?

  8. This article was so spot on, it actually hurts {in a totally great way}. Too often, especially as an entrepreneur I thought people were just trying to snag ideas. Until recently, I realize that a community of women who are thriving in their industries are the exact community I thrive in! Thank you for sharing this…it’s truly a gem and one that I will surely be thinking about for quite some time!!

  9. Jeana, I’m thrilled the article was able to shed some light on how you’ve been feeling. Now that you know where the “cantankerousness” is coming from, you will be able to see and shift it. Notice if it is easier to meet and engage with new people. Best of luck!

    Kris, holy goodness do I know this. I’m not even a mommy yet and I sometimes get wigged out on the “perfect looking” mommy. I wonder how her child is only 3 months old and she looks like she never had one. Oh ladies, we’ve got to cool our jets and just send out the love!

    Chelsea, I’m so glad the article “hurt so good” for you 😉 Being a female entrepreneur is tough especially when the very people we need for community are those we feel competitive with. But just as you said, realizing you thrive around awesome women and surrounding yourself with them will only make you stronger and mellow that comparison muscle. Much love and thanks again for your thoughtful comment!

  10. I love this post, Jamie. As a natural introvert I’ve been pushing myself to attend events that get me out of my comfort zone, but then inevitably I find myself comparing me to other people with similar skill sets (consultants, designers, writers) I met at the events.

    I’ve had to work to overcome this mindset and embrace the beauty of what can happen through true collaboration. The result is getting to do more of what I love (with creating websites – I design and work with a developer vs. “doing it all” start to finish; or in writing I perform the initial research/drafts and then have a skilled editor make the revisions). An even better final product is created through collaboration. The team approach makes the end of a project a celebration that can be shared in by me and my partners. It isn’t to say that the feelings of competition never arise again, but I’m learning to shake those feelings with each passing project. And earn the trust of my peers.

    In addition, I organize a group in Los Angles that seeks to address the very issues and feelings you’ve outlined (Young Female Entrepreneurs). Learning that we can grow together instead of compete is a far better path for peace and our pocket books :)

  11. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and being so authentic! You’re so brave. It was a joy to hear about your personal story and where you come from in meeting new people and especially all these kick ass women! Such a great post.

    Much love,

  12. I love this & need to work on this! I get very nervous and cynical when I’m
    around new women because I’m worried they take away from
    people liking me too. Yet I want new friends and have a hard time making new girlfriends! I have no problem around men but definitely this is why!

    Thank you for this. I need to explore this more

  13. Insightful post, Jamie!! Thank you!! Yes, this is definitely one of those shadow discussions that is rarely brought to light – so appreciative of you shining the light on this topic! I am so working on not comparing myself to other women who are thriving in their business, have a ‘sexy, perfect’ body, and are what I deem ‘super’ intelligent. It’s so easy for my thoughts to go to ‘ohh I wish I was like…’ or ‘man she has such an awesome website…’ and MANY other limiting beliefs swirl around my brain. To calm these thoughts, I acknowledge that I am having them and then send loving-kindness phrases to the person (this type of meditation has helped me tremendously). If I see a beautiful woman wearing an outfit which I think won’t look good on me, I first start to feel kind of down – feel it in my body- and then silently wish them: may you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you live with ease (these are the loving-kindness phrases).

    So appreciative of your post, Jamie!!

    Sending loving-kindness to you,

  14. Thank you kindly for this inspiring post. I was just watching an interview with the lovely Lucia René whereas she mentioned competition among women. I never had thought about how competitive I have been with other females, and how this really takes away my strength! Very interesting. Here is the interview…



  15. Erin- I am so impressed by you putting yourself out there. There’s a great book called
    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain that’s just for you and will help you further see your strengths as an introvert. And way to go on starting the Young Female Entrepreneurs group. Fab!

    Robyn- Thanks for all the love. You are definitely one of my kick-ass women!

    Sita- I’m thrilled this resonated with you and you are right, competition certainly is a conversation in the shadows. I also LOVE the phrases you send out to the woman you are feeling competitive with. One of my personal favorites is, “May she love her body as much as I am learning to love my own.”

    Olivia- Thank you for sharing this video. I’m going to check it out right now!

  16. You’d think that by this age–you do not want to know (!)–I would have learned better. You would be wrong. I still find myself comparing myself to other women & feeling like they must be judging me, and while I have no trouble meeting people I tend not to follow up because it means I’ll open myself up to possible rejection. Good post, Jamie!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing Sandy. No matter what age, we all work on this stuff. It’s crazy right, especially when we think we should already know this then berate ourselves for not doing better. Oy the cycles we put ourselves through. 😉 I recommend following up with the women you meet. Though there is the possibility of rejection, what’s more likely is you will receive tremendous support from women who legitimately find your interesting and want to learn more. Much love!

  18. Its hard as heck isn’t it, trying to be successful and moving forward but also trying so hard not to be seen as a liability, as someone weak that others can’t count on 100%. But what I’ve learned is that sometimes others are just waiting to see that no matter how great you are, you’ve got your bad days too. And if you can show that you can keep going even in the tough times, I think that just makes you that much more credible and that much more real.