I've always been a competitive person. My parents brought me up to have high standards, and to aim high, to try to be the best, and to work hard to achieve that. I'm not saying that is bad, but one result of this is that it has taken me many years to learn the lesson that people aren't judging you all the time by what you achieve.
The revelation has come from two sources:
1. I recently attended an Enneagram workshop run by Oxford Unitarian Josephine Seccombe, and she lent me a book about the different personality types. I am definitely a 3 "Achiever", who is motivated by success and by the praise of others. One key phrase in the personal development section brought me up standing: "Realise that love comes from being, not from doing and having."
"Realise that love comes from being, not from doing and having."
That is such an important message for all of us, but particularly for driven types like me. What? People like me for who I am, not just for what I do? A real Eureka moment.
And then I start to think that this has broader ramifications - I must also return the compliment to others, and love them for who they are, not for what they achieve. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, love as you would be loved.
2. Six weeks ago, I gave up smoking and started running again. Running for me is not about exercise, it's not about winning races, it's not about being the fastest or the best, it is for the pure love of being able to put one foot in front of the other and run a certain distance, knowing that the only person you are competing against is yourself. And often, I'm not even competing against myself, I just go out because it's a nice day, and I need to feel the sunlight on my skin and the wind in my hair, and experience the effort of running for itself. After a good run, I feel like God on the seventh day - just uplifted and good and the sense of achievement doesn't need to be validated by anyone else. It touches parts of my soul that nothing else does.
So I will continue to do my best, and to value success, and bask in the praise of others, but will try to remember that I am worthy for myself, and so is everyone else. "There is that of God in everyone"