Competition – What is it Doing to Our Health?

There is a phrase common to us in society that talks about ‘healthy competition’. What is this competition though, and how is it truly affecting our health?

Competition starts with comparison, or perceiving ourselves as less or more than another. There are myriad reasons why we start to feel less or more than those around us and it begins very young.

When we are born we are whole and complete & everything that is for us to be is naturally inside us. We are allowed to just sit and be – and in fact are marvelled for our beauty and stillness as we lie, sleep and simply just be. As we grow the ideals and beliefs of those around us, if we take them on, start to dictate how we behave. We often learn from our observations and those around us that this natural and innate way of being is actually not the norm, and we most often lack the reflection of what it is to remain true to ourselves for our whole lives.

We get reflected that we need to say things or do things in a certain way in order to be accepted, and we step away from the knowing that we are complete already with nothing outside of us that we are required to gain to be and function successfully in this life.

This paragraph in itself may seem very foreign to those reading it, because it is so far from how we are now conditioned to be, and how our world operates.

Once we have departed from the knowing of who we are, and our completeness, we look for anything outside of us that is going to allow us to feel whole again – but this will never in truth occur as a search external to us never replaces the magic and beauty we actually are inside.

Comparison and competition is one way for us to search externally. In the striving to be better than another we can create goals, attain them and feel that we are better within ourselves. Likewise, if someone is doing worse than us it makes us feel ok as we are a step ‘up’ in some way.

Competition has become second nature, if not first nature to many and is breeding the disharmonious society we live in. It has become normal, and is vastly unnatural.

How does competition affect our bodies?

Competition allows us to say yes to sports, movements and careers that ask us to compromise our bodies. For example teens who participate in sport and train 5 mornings a week before going to school for a long day – in addition to all the pressures that school currently has, not to mention the possible turmoil of the surrounding relationships teenagers find themselves in today. What effect does this have on the body?

Likewise in pushing ourselves to extraordinary lengths to obtain ‘top marks’ or get the grades needed to please our parents, or get into the university course that will get us the most secure job also takes a toll on our bodies.

There are ways we can exercise, study and work that do not require push or compromise, and yet this has evidently become the norm.

We wonder why our young are eating sugar and consuming energy drinks like there is no tomorrow, or withdrawing and becoming hugely anxious. Is it any surprise with what they are bombarded with in just their daily living requirements? This is just one example of the many, many effects competition has and is having on our health.

It’s fairly clear that competition creates disharmony, so what do we get out of staying in competition? It keeps us in the constant search of betterment and attaining goals that in truth do not better us. It allows us to not feel the reason we entered into competition in the first place – the fact that we felt hurt and not met for who we are innately.

How do we stop the ill effect that competition has on all of us? It requires each of us first of all to recognise the competition we have said ‘yes’ to and come back to the place where we actually feel settled within ourselves. This process can take some time, as it asks us to completely appreciate who we are – without the accolades, awards, titles, PHDs and positions that we have accumulated.

The appreciation comes from feeling ourselves as we were as a baby – the joy and wisdom we so naturally shared with our eyes, our expression and our laughter. We still carry this magic inside of us today, and it is all that we need to be.

When we feel this in ourselves, we reflect to others, and especially our young that there is a way to be that does not need to push, drive and ruin our bodies in order to be something or achieve.

This is a responsibility we all carry, if we can see the world we live in, the state of our health, and wish it to change.


  1. Competition is insidious but usually we are completely unaware of this and even charities use competition for the ‘good of a cause’ but in effect the competition is causing more unhealthy bodies. All of this occurs because we don’t want to feel the hurts that our body is feeling, but the paradox is that if we felt these hurts then they can be released and healed instead of being amplified by actions without feeling how our bodies are actually coping with competition.

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    1. It is a paradox Susan, because a lot of so-called ‘healthy competition’ keeps us in an adenaline flow that is numbing to the body. The process of allowing ourselves to actually recognise that, for example, our morning ‘power walk’ or run is also a competition with self and a means of numbing a feeling we want to avoid takes an enormous amount of honesty. For me this has been an unfolding process rather than an instant knowing.

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  2. Learning to appreciate myself just for who I am and not for achievements is an unfolding process, but is so worthwhile. It is beautiful to rest in the body and be at ease with oneself, not needing to constantly see if I measure up or not.

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  3. Amelia as I feel more deeply into your blog I realise how competition is introduced to us very early in our life. If the parents are feeling lesser or greater than others then these values are transmitted. I have clear memories of which families in the street were deemed lesser and those that were neutral. As a child it was never clear to me why, though on reflection it was about economic status. And in the social groups I could also feel a ranking. Attributes and behaviours and even physical appearance were ranked. And all this before school, where academic and sports performance entered the equation. It left me not knowing who I was and feeling adrift, then taking on behaviours to numb that feeling. Competition is a slow poison that is typically drip fed us from birth. This exposes to me the responsibility we all carry to honestly appraise the competition we still carry within us so that we do not unknowingly transmit it others and can instead reflect the joyfulness of knowing the beauty and power that we all innately are, equally so.

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  4. I work in the tertiary education industry and see first hand the devastation to the bodies of young people. This is particularly evident in some cultures where the young are put under enormous pressure from a very early age to excel in study and thereby pave a better future for their family and selves.

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  5. Thank you,this was beautiful to read,I love how you say we can come back to that place of being settled within ourselves,this helped me so much this morning Amelia.


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