We live in a society that is constantly telling us we need to be better, stronger, and more successful than everyone else. We are taught from a young age that the only way to succeed is through competition, and we are encouraged to constantly compare ourselves to others. This “I am stronger/better than you” mentality can be not only harmful to our relationships with others, but it can also drain our energy and leave us feeling exhausted. In this article, we will explore why this mentality is so damaging to our well-being and offer strategies for breaking free from it.
Understanding the “I Am Stronger/Better Than You” Mentality
The “I am stronger/better than you” mentality is rooted in a competitive mindset that values success above all else. We are told that the measure of our worth is based on our achievements, our status, and our possessions. In order to achieve these things, we are encouraged to view others as obstacles rather than allies. We may feel constant pressure to prove ourselves and to be better than those around us.
This type of mentality can be particularly draining because it requires a lot of energy to maintain. When we are focused on proving ourselves to others, we may expend a lot of mental and emotional energy trying to keep up appearances. We may also become preoccupied with comparing ourselves to others, which can be exhausting and distracting.
The Toll of the “I Am Stronger/Better Than You” Mentality
The “I am stronger/better than you” mentality can have a number of negative effects on our well-being. Here are just a few of the ways it can drain our energy:
1. Mental Exhaustion
Constantly striving to be better than others can be mentally exhausting. We may spend a lot of time and energy worrying about how we measure up to others, and this can take a toll on our mental health.
2. Emotional Drain
The pressure to succeed can also be emotionally draining. We may feel anxious, stressed, or irritable as we try to keep up with our competitors. We may also feel disappointed or frustrated when we don’t achieve the success we were hoping for.
3. Physical Fatigue
When we are mentally and emotionally exhausted, it can also affect our physical energy. We may feel tired, unmotivated, or lethargic as a result of constantly trying to prove ourselves to others.
Strategies for Breaking Free from the “I Am Stronger/Better Than You” Mentality
Breaking free from the “I am stronger/better than you” mentality can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, even when we make mistakes or fall short of our goals. By practicing self-compassion, we can learn to accept ourselves for who we are rather than constantly striving to be better than others.
2. Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude is the practice of acknowledging and appreciating the good things in our lives. By focusing on what we have rather than what we lack, we can break free from the constant pressure to compete with others. Take time each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for.
3. Connect with Others
Connecting with others can help us break free from the “I am stronger/better than you” mentality by reminding us of our shared humanity. Spend time with friends and family, join a community group, or volunteer for a cause you care about.
4. Embrace Vulnerability
Embracing vulnerability means being willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and imperfections. By doing so, we can learn to accept ourselves for who we are rather than constantly trying to prove ourselves to others.
5. Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals can help us break free from the constant pressure to compete with others. Rather than setting goals based on what others are achieving, focus on what is important to you and what feels achievable.
The “I am stronger/better than you” mentality can be exhausting and draining, but it is possible to break free from it. By practicing self-compassion, cultivating gratitude, connecting with others, embracing vulnerability, and setting realistic goals, we can learn to accept ourselves for who we are and find true fulfillment and happiness. Remember, success is not measured by our achievements or how we compare to others, but by our ability to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Here are 10 relevant authoritative citations on the harmful effects of the “I am stronger/better than you” mentality and strategies for breaking free from it:
- Neff, K.D., & Germer, C.K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28-44.
- Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
- Twenge, J.M., Campbell, W.K., & Gentile, B. (2012). Generational differences in psychological traits and their impact on the workplace. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27(3), 243-258.
- Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
- Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227-268.
- Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 141-166.
- Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 17(2), 297-314.
- Fredrickson, B.L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13(2), 172-175.
- Grant, A.M. (2013). Give and take: A revolutionary approach to success. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
- Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.