Life is full of choices. Each day of our lives, there is a decision to make. There is a decision to make on our health development. There is a decision to make on building our career, building a coagulated family, making wise financial investment, and improving on our value. Additionally, there is a choice to make concerning the people we allow into the space of our subsists. At every stage in my life’s pursuit, I do a lifestyle-audit to assess the people around me. This I do through an inquisitorial engagement. Do the people who get closer to me add value to my life? If they do, I keep them. Furthermore, do the people I encounter subtract from my worth?
Do such people divide my attention from my core vision in life? People who subtract or detract from my core values and divide my attention automatically serve as distractive tools. Such people do not warrant a space in my life unlike those who help multiply my value. This does not suggest total aversion for people, but identifying what suits us as people on a mission. Thus, it is imperative to weigh the thoughts of people as you move along with them. In fact, the question about the right people needed to help you achieve an all-inclusive vision and those to be placed outside one’s vision bracket should be weighed in everyone’s assessment engagement. Regardless of any decision to make in life, being unable to know who we are, what we are, and the gifts and potentials we possess makes us live a despondent life, entangled with sullenness, self-regret, antagonism, jealousy and being obsessed with destructive criticism(s).
It’s unfortunate how most people see life. Some see life as a competitive race. For instance, the sight of a colleague in a new house, a new car, attaining another academic qualification, or travelling abroad becomes a headache for most people, especially in our part of the world. In that sense, these emotionally weak people easily break down due to the fact that they assume some are taking the speed race in life while they are left behind. What a tragedy! Those who are competitive live in misery. Until we know who we are, what we are, what we are composed of, where we are, where we want to be, and what God wants us to do in life, the exploits of others may make us live in depression, unhappiness or disgruntlement. In other words, competitive people are restless and indecisive in life.
Competition may also be debated from an angle of being good, as without it man would have little to achieve. In the school setting, for example, the crave for an award – either in the form of scholarship or for recognition in class – may be a student’s aspiration. In that case, his/her input may be competitive with others for the ultimate prize. In a corporate organization, too, workers may compete among themselves for higher salaries or promotions. In this sense, they stay longer to do additional time, pursue further studies to earn more money or get promoted to a higher office. But there is a price to pay if you suffer from the sickness of ‘competition anxiety’ that takes the form of either the fear of failure or the fear of success. This ‘competition anxiety’ is what I call unhealthy antagonism. It is unhealthy because it leads to unnecessary emotional disturbances or responsive disproportions.
The fear of failure stifles unwholesome competition because a person will be afraid to proceed or get involved with his line of action. In that case, his achievement will be curtailed, and he will suffer loss of identity. Unhealthy competition makes one compete with his co-worker, neighbours, friends or extended family, trying to prove that he/she is more successful or highly recognised. Consequently, one wastes his energy and time running after frolicsome or frivolous stuffs at the expense of focusing on one’s path.
The problem with unhealthy competition is that it is an unending cycle. It keeps on moving in a vicious cycle, especially when one is highly projected than the other. The outcome of this emotional imbalance is its aberrant jealousy or uneasiness. Thus, one becomes unhappy at the mention of the exploits of his/her competitor. But truth cannot be buried – there will always be people ahead of you in terms of wealth, material possessions or even high academic qualification.
Some people are more abrasive, scratchy or uncomfortable because they pay more attention to what others are, what others have, what they do, where they are, what they earn, what they wear or what they drive. To overcome this, one must do some very serious reality-check to know what this unhealthy competition really is, and not what his delusions and imaginations tell him.
You must change your own self-concept in accordance with reality. Until you learn to stay focused on your dream, the negative emotional antiphons or responses you receive when you hear of the strides of your competitors will make you feel inferior, jealous or uneasy.
The fear of success has also crippled a lot of leaders. A person with this kind of psychosis or phobia will develop increasingly guilty feelings as he/she and the organisation move toward achieving their goal. This kind of person may strive hard but will usually falter before the actual achievement. He/she will often find some excuses to block the realisation of the ultimate goal.
A person must find the proper balance between providing enough competition to motivate himself to achieve his goals and yet not having so much antagonism that a spirit of rivalry rules between him and others. Therefore, if you are competitive and always looking for ways to outsmart others, you may never know who you are, what you have and what you can do. Automatically, you may fail in your life’s pursuit because of the unhealthy competitive spirit you possess. So, identify your area of specialty and stay there till you succeed.
Furthermore, other people also see life from a different angle. It is the viewpoint of patience, which is premised on the attitude of the tortoise. They believe that with that gradual effort of making impact in their little corner, destiny has a unique way of magnifying their steps and showcasing them to the world view. So, the choice is yours. Either your become competitive and live in misery, or you become patient in your life’s pursuit while working behind the scenes but trusting providence to give you a miracle.
Do you know that there are some people who are comfortable with working at a place of higher learning while others are more comfortable with working at a basic level? There are some focused people who make it in life, regardless of any level of the educational pursuit. Thus, it is wrong to think that someone working at the tertiary level is better than a person at the basic level. It is a matter of choice. Life will be better if we know who we are and what we want to achieve in life.
The assessment of life by a materialistic standpoint makes an unstable person live in regret. It is better to know yourself through the assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Many years ago, while pursuing my second Master’s degree, I learnt a great deal of wisdom from one of my lecturers whose highest academic attainment was a Master’s degree. I asked him why he never wanted to have a doctorate degree or pursue any other higher academic programme? His response was captivating. He said, ‘in my middle age, it is better to invest in my children’s education, help them climb the academic ladder to the PhD level, and even do far better in life than me.’ Woow! I reasoned as such. That is impressive!
That day, I learnt about placing our lens under the right perspective. Though I believe that we should learn to enhance our development in every area of our lives, one’s present state of actualisation should not make others feel inferior. In fact, you may have something others may not have. It is, therefore, an irrational act to think that some people are ahead of you or better than you. That is mental depression. On the other hand, it is also absurdity to brag about your academic laurel, or the higher institution you work with, thinking you are better off than others.
In my opinion, life is about helping make lives better, and not the social class you find yourself in. When you think you are superior to others, you miss the essence of life. Wisdom demands that wherever you find yourself, you must strive to shine. Thus, you should find your rhythm in life. Find out what actually makes you happy in life. Identify and maximise your gifts and potentials, thereby making lives better.
Find out, what makes you fulfilled in life. What gives you a sense of joy and belonging? Tune your guitar strings to a convenient spot in order to produce the right harmony in your musical life. What I mean is you should rearrange your thoughts in identifying your axiom, truism, platitude or maxim. Your heart will ‘ache’ if you fail to identify your individualism. In fact, you will break down if you allow the negative attitudes of some people to sway you off from your original purpose in life.
As a principle, I do not make time to read negative messages on social media, or respond to text messages which are of no value to my life. Furthermore, I do not allow any negative occurrence to take seat in my soul. My life is programmed for positivity, instead of living in unpleasantness or acrimony. In life, I have come to know that you cannot be better in your approach if you surround yourself with proud people whose hearts are full of unforgiveness and abhorrence – check the lifecycle of such undesirable people and you will identify the rhythm of backwardness in their thinking. Life is a school, and the events and processes we face, come to teach us a lesson. We have a choice to relearn to be better people or to allow the conditions we find ourselves in make us live in bitterness.
Many people, due to different experiences or persuasions, have lost their bearing in life as a result of following unwarranted needs. Sometimes, you would never know who people are until an issue crops up which actually reveals their true identity. Like the colour of the tea bag, it only shows up under intense temperature. Outwardly, such people may look presentable, but precariously shrunken in their thinking as a result of depression. Knowing yourself may take time, but under good guidance and humility, the right people in your life can redirect your course to the right path. So, appreciate the people God sends your way to help you. Until you learn to humbly appreciate these good people around you, you will continue to wallow in the pool of qualms or misgivings.
Do you know that quite a lot of marriages are breaking apart because the partners involved in the union fail to appreciate who they are, what they have, and honour each other? With this crack in the union, a third force drills to find his or her way to collapse that holy matrimony. The challenge with most people is we easily exchange solid unification for fantasies and pleasurable haven until our true value is totally wiped off. The example on marriage is not the only one. There are several happenings in life; most people under unclear vision miss great opportunities. One of the key reasons may be our inability to know who we are and adequately prepare to grab great opportunities. There are some people, who, until they fall into the ditch of disgrace, do not learn about the wisdom that guides life’s success. Begin to rethink about your actuality, and be the person designed to make a difference in life.
It is unwise to bemoan your present state and live in the utopia of indignity, self-reject, jealousy and self-destruction. A person enjoys fulfilment in life if he or she identifies who he/she is, the gifts or skills he/she possesses, where he/she has reached in life, and the efforts needed for the next phase in his/her pursuit. The state of inertia, at a point in life, is irrelevant. Growth is the only requirement for a successful living. As you move on, do away with a competitive lifestyle. Furthermore, you are too glorious to mingle with detractors. Separate yourself to be in the company of right thinkers. Be content with what you have and trust providence to control your life’s steering wheel till you get to the finishing line of greatness.
Grab copies of the writer’s books from Kingdom Bookshop, KNUST, Kumasi and in Accra, contact: Mrs. Justina Asempa (Phoenix Insurance, Ringway Estates, Osu) on 0244 20 88 43 and Pastor Stephen Gyamfi (ICGC, Asylum Down, 054 679 7323). In Obuasi, contact: Sammy on 024 77 3 78 11.
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with WordSprings City Church, Kumasi – Ghana.
Email: [email protected]