Embracing Wholeness

Beyond competitiveness is a place where we can accept and embrace our wholeness with compassion.

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I’ve been known to be competitive at times as a defensive reaction.

It’s not necessarily a word that I would want to say about myself but I do recognise that I can turn things into a competition.

I will never forget this ridiculous example one weekend when the kids were small. My husband and I ended up having a discussion about how many nappies we had both changed and who’s turn it was to do the next one. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?

What drives defensive competitive behaviour?

I get competitive when I feel I’ve got something to prove.

I’m not talking the kind of competitive that's healthy, going for a shared goal, collaborative competition.

I mean the kind of competitive that is because I'm reacting to something.

For example, when I’m scared and I hold the belief that I need to prove that I’m enough, I become increasingly competitive with those around me. I need to be better than the rest.

This notion of mine is fundamentally flawed because if I accept myself, and show up as perfectly imperfect, there are no hoops to jump through!

Can we accept ourselves as we are?

I’ve been reading Kristin Neff, Self Compassion and was taken by one of the exercises in it and wanted to share it with you.

The Exercise is called Seeing Yourself as You Are and it asks you to...

  1. List five culturally valued traits for which you’re above average
  2. List five culturally valued traits for which you’re just average
  3. List five culturally valued traits for which you’re below average.
The last part of the exercise is to consider if you can accept all these facets of yourself. Kristin writes, “ Being human doesn’t mean being better than others. Being human means you encompass the full range of human experience, the positive, the negative and the neutral.” At work

We’re surrounded by performance cultures that encourage us to strive to achieve outstanding results. These assessments are likely to rate both what we achieve and how we do it.

They reinforce this myth that to be outstanding and receive the performance related pay that we desire, we need to be above average at everything. Unwittingly it has us own the parts of ourselves where we excel, and pushes into the shadow the aspects where we are below average.

At home

When we come from the place of needing to prove our worth, we create unnecessary competition.

Think about the last argument you had with a loved one. Did you find yourself needing to prove your point of view? Do you get caught up in conversations about who's turn it is to take the rubbish out or who's cooking dinner tonight?

The solution?

The only solution is to embrace our wholeness.

I remember co-leading a session with senior leaders and my co-leader turned to the group and said, “Vanessa’s rubbish at detail.” As soon as she said it I felt my muscles clench and an instant desire to fight back.

I took a breath and suddenly laughed. There was absolutely no way I could argue with this statement. It wasn’t personal. I am rubbish with the small print. I said, “You know what, that’s true and knowing and owning that fact helps me develop strategies to mitigate it.”

It’s why I love working with strengths. We begin to look at ourselves through the lens of appreciative enquiry and from that place we can accept not just where we’re brilliant but also where we’re not.

If this post resonates with you, why not try the exercise and consider if there are aspects of you that are harder to take ownership of.

Being human means we are average in lots of ways.

Accepting it makes the journey of aliveness much more fun!

Vanessa Anstee

Life Coach

I'm inspired by who you can be without apology and I want to help you let your real self shine. I've been a life coach for 10 years. I've always been a seeker trying to discover a way of being in life that feels soulful, authentic and aligned to what my heart wants not what my head thinks I should have, be or do. I spent 20+ year career in HR, OD, talent management and executive coaching. My kids were my biggest wake up. I saw the way I was working wasn't working anymore. I couldn't keep pushing myself harder. I had to accept I couldn't attain this perfected version of myself that I had strived most of my life to achieve. I had to find love not from accolades and other people's acceptance but from deep inside me. That's when I learnt to connect to my heart, heal my childhood wounds and fears of never being enough and set light to my passion in a completely new way. I want one thing for my clients. Be real. Be themselves, fall madly in love with that person and honour their soul's calling.