I'm prone toward feeling competitive. That was obvious when I was playing competitive tennis. I didn't like to lose. It's been less obvious now.
But today when I started reading Be Water, My Friend, a book written by Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee's daughter, after putting it aside for a while, I came across her description of how Bruce Lee viewed a competitive attitude in everyday relationships and situations.
I saw myself in these Six Diseases. Maybe you will also. Shannon Lee says: (the indented passages are from Bruce Lee)
If we want to look at how we practice all forms of rivalry, there are six diseases my father wrote about, all of which stem from the desire we have to win at all costs. These diseases rely on being in competition, which is typically where we go in a relationship the moment any discord pops up.
When we relate to others in these ways, we are disconnecting from them and disconnecting from our true selves in order to access some form of outside validation. In other words, there is no relationship, no collaboration, no cocreation. There is only the victor and the loser.
The Six Diseases are:
The desire for victory
I have to be the winner. If I don't win, I'm a loser. If I win, everybody else is a loser.
The desire to resort to technical cunning
I rely on the power of my wits to show you how great I am. Who cares about people or their feelings as long as everyone can see how clever I am?
The desire to display all that has been learned
Check me out. I know lots of things. I can speak at length about anything. It doesn't matter what anyone else has to say (especially if it's dumb).
The desire to awe the enemy
I am a force to be reckoned with. Look out! I will wow you to get your approval even if I have to do something shocking and wild to get your attention.
The desire to play the passive role
I am so easy to get along with. Who wouldn't like me? I am so unobtrusive and sweet. I will put anything that's important to me aside to make sure that you see how likeable and wonderful I am. How could you not like me when I sacrifice everything just for you?
The desire to rid oneself of whatever disease one is affected by
I am not okay as I am. I will perform constant self-work and read as many books as I can and take so many classes to make myself good that you will see that I am always trying to be a good person even if I continue to do lots of shitty things. I know I'm not okay as I am. And I know you know that I know I'm not okay as I am, which makes it okay not to get truly better as long as it looks like I'm trying.
With all of these pitfalls, there's an attachment to an outside outcome, which ultimately disconnects us from people and situations. There is only the desire to manipulate or shock and awe the "opponent." Even in the noble desire to be rid of the disease, there is a characterization of oneself as "the afflicted one" and therefore a denial of your own power.
I offer you these six diseases to consider as possible avenues of self-exploration because we have all participated in them when relating to another person or a situation. Can you recognize any of these in yourself?
If you were to dig a little deeper, where would you find the wounding perception that motivates the disease and where could the healing begin? Allow yourself the awareness to notice your tactics and the freedom to feel your pain points. Realize that the diseases are just a delusion of the mind and the ego.
You complain about how judgmental people are? Guess what you're being -- judgmental. You give someone the cold shoulder for not being nicer to you? Guess what -- you're not being nice. You gossip about what a gossip someone is? You're a gossip yourself. You get mad at someone for not loving you the "right" way -- that's not very loving.
Take a look in the mirror and see how you are extending the life of the disease rather than finding the cure and, ultimately, the healing.
These diseases are traps. They will keep you locked in isolation and stagnate your growth. They will keep your success always outside of yourself and out of your hands as you chase victory and validation through the eyes of someone else.
And what's more, they will keep you from being fully yourself. Attachment to outcome is denial of one's true commitment to self.
The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of an engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. See that there is no one to fight, only an illusion to see through.