Not All Competitive Mindsets Are Healthy — Here's How To Reverse Damaging Thoughts

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Lindsay Hattrick/TZR; Stocksy

“There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.” The old adage certainly holds some truth as it can push one to strive to improve and not remain complacent. However, with the meteoric and all-encompassing domination of social media, a more unhealthy competition mindset has quickly come into focus, particularly among millennials and Gen-Zers. Constant scrolling is leading to obsessive thoughts of comparison with many feeling inadequate because they aren’t taking flawless (filtered) images on the Amalfi Coast or announcing an engagement or job promotion. As it happens, often, competitive thoughts and subsequent envy can do longterm damage to your mental health as comparison is truly the thief of joy. Just ask an expert.

“With social media, we are being constantly shown things that are actually designed to make us feel jealous,” explains Roxie Nafousi, self-development coach⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣, manifestation expert, and author of Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life, to TZR . “We're trying to want something that someone else has enough that we buy into it. So it's actually being curated to fuel our envy and our jealousy. And we are constantly seeing people's successes. Competition and this envy is a very low vibrational response and it becomes a scarcity mindset.”

Instead of inspiring one to feel confident in moving within their own path or “lane,” this fear-based comparison game can actually hinder growth and become destructive. “Energy is directional,” says Nafousi. “If you are running a race and you are trying to get to the finish line, you cannot be looking over your shoulder at how far the person next to you is because you will trip and fall and you will not get to your goal.”

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The manifestation guru goes on to explain that the constant scrolling of social media feeds and the need for knowledge about where other people are at in their lives and careers is a sure sign that you are focusing your attention on everybody else and not enough on yourself.

“Inspiration says there is enough for us all,” says Nafousi. “There is an abundance of love, success, money in the universe for everybody. And that's very high vibrational as a response.” But how does one go about reversing their unhealthy and deeply rooted thoughts on competition? Ahead, Nafousi offers three core steps to help you go from envious to inspired.

Own It

Like any other bad habit or personal issue, the first step to correcting something is simply acknowledging its existence in your life. Nafousi suggests becoming more aware of your thoughts and reactions to things. “Take ownership of your feelings towards other people, OK?” she says. “Because it is a signal of what you want more of in your life. You see someone on Instagram chatting to a camera or whatever and you’re like, ‘Ugh, she's so cringe.’ That's not cringe. What that is stemming from is envy or jealousy that they have the confidence to express themselves however they want.”

The author adds that whatever someone chooses to post or share has nothing to do with you, as long as it’s not harming you or others. “You might see a couple kissing on a roof,” she says, offering another example. “And you go, ‘Ugh, get a room.’ Actually, it might be that you wish you had a passionate relationship like that.”

Celebrate, Don’t Compete

Once you’ve become aware of your thoughts and feelings towards others, the next step is shifting them in the moment. “Instead of competing with the people around us, start really celebrating them, supporting them, it's such a high vibration response,” says Nafousi. “It says to the universe, I'm so happy for this person and I know there is enough for me, too. And I think that it's just so empowering for us.”

So, the next time you’re scrolling through IG or TikTok, and your mind is gravitating toward a thought like, That girl's so arrogant, Nafousi suggests stopping that thought in its tracks. “I want you to say to yourself, ‘Good for her. I can't wait to feel that way about myself,’” she instructs. “You will feel better for it.”

Make this practice a regular one and see how it manifests in your life and produces more positive thinking. As the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu once said, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Nafousi seconds this notion, explaining, “It might be a bit tricky at first, but that's OK,” she says. “And the more you do it and the more that you practice, the easier this stuff will come.”

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Show Compassion For Yourself

The final, and arguably most important, piece of the puzzle when dealing with unhealthy competitiveness is showing yourself some love, patience, and compassion along the way. As you consciously notice negative thoughts or spot envy, try not to judge yourself. “[Instead, think] ‘I'm sorry that you don't feel you're worthy of that yourself,’” suggests Nafousi. “‘Now, how can we turn that [negative thought] into inspiration?’”

So, the next time you see someone on holiday on IG, and you feel that jealousy creep in, think on how this post can inspire something positive in your own life. “[Think about going] somewhere like that,” says Nafousi. “Or you know what? That's a real sign [you’re] craving some travel or some free time at the moment. Maybe you need to take a break, plan something, even if it's a year in advance. But instantly you're giving yourself these constant opportunities throughout the day to shift your envy and turn it into inspiration.”