From External to Internal: The Advantages of Prioritizing Internal Competition in Competitive Sports
By it’s nature, sports are designed to force us to compete. As competitive athletes, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of constantly competing against other athletes, but what if instead of focusing on external competition, you shifted your focus to internal competition? This means competing against yourself and striving to improve your own performance, rather than trying to beat others.
First and foremost, internal competition helps to shift the focus from external validation to internal validation. When we base our self-worth on external factors, such as winning or being better than others, we are placing our self-worth in the hands of others. This can lead to feelings of incompetence and low self-esteem. But by focusing on internal competition, we are placing the focus on our own progress and achievements. This allows us to build self-confidence based on our own personal growth and progress, rather than relying on external validation. This shift in focus can help us to develop a more positive self-image and a greater sense of self-worth.
Additionally, internal competition promotes a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that we can improve and grow through effort and learning. By focusing on internal competition, we are placing the focus on our own growth and progress. This promotes a belief in our own abilities and potential, which can have a positive impact on self-confidence. A growth mindset can help us to view failures and setbacks as opportunities for learning and development, rather than as personal failures. This can help us to build a more resilient and positive attitude towards challenges.
Another benefit of internal competition is that it promotes self-awareness. When we are focused on internal competition, we are more likely to reflect on our own performance and be honest with ourselves. An important part of growth is the ability to look in the mirror and know whether we gave it our best shot or not. You can lie to everyone else, but you can’t lie to the man in the mirror. This allows us to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and set realistic and achievable goals for improvement in the areas that follow. It can also help us to understand our own limitations and work on our mental and physical abilities. It can help us to develop a better understanding of our own capabilities and potential, which can have a positive impact on self-confidence.
Furthermore, internal competition can help to reduce stress and anxiety. When we are solely focused on winning or beating others, the pressure to succeed can become overwhelming. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact our performance. By shifting the focus to internal competition, we are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the pressure to win. Instead, we are more likely to focus on the things we can control, such as our own training and preparation. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can lead to competing in a state of free flow. When in a state of free flow, athletes experience a heightened sense of focus, concentration, and enjoyment. We feel as if we are in complete control of our movements, and our actions feel effortless and automatic. Also, our perception of time is altered, and we feel as if we are in a state of timelessness.
The mental state of free flow is optimal for performance, as athletes in this state are better able to access their full range of abilities and perform at our best. This is because we are not hampered by distractions, anxiety, or negative thoughts. The mental state of free flow is also associated with better decision-making. In this state, we are better able to process information and react quickly.
It’s also important to remember that building self-confidence is not only about achieving external success, it’s also about developing a positive relationship with yourself. This means learning to accept and embrace your own imperfections, being kind and compassionate towards yourself, and developing a positive self-talk.
Learning to focus on internal competition is an ongoing process that requires time, patience, and consistency. By focusing on internal competition and staying consistent in your daily process, you can take steps towards building self-confidence and improving your overall mental health and well-being. Remember that this skill is not something that you can acquire overnight, it’s something that you have to work on consistently. Start by defining specific, attainable and realistic objectives. Monitor progress, evaluate performance, solicit feedback, maintain a positive attitude and stay consistent. Build upon your successes, one step at a time, each day. Continuously strive for improvement.
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