Does Someone Always Have to Win?

The words sound inviting enough. 'Darling, it's a lovely day, let's go for a bike ride in the country'. But what starts out as a pleasant few hours together may all too quickly turn sour if one person can't bear to come 'second' and is in desperate need of being the fastest, fittest, always having to win every stretch of the journey.

You may remember coverage of the race where the runner in second position saw the person in front of him stop, clearly thinking that he'd crossed the finishing line. Not wanting to win the race that way he pushed the man in front over the finish line, afterwards saying he felt that it was the right thing to do.

How exhausting is it when someone always has to be right and win?

- Some people always need to have the last word, not realising that over time they become figures of fun and derision. Others soon recognise how ridiculous they are with their insistence at being the ones to constantly end every discussion. It can become almost a joke to continue the conversation and bait them!

- Then there are those interminable exchanges that devolve into rounds of examples and evidence-based recollections, all aimed at winning each point by justifying their opinions, behaviour or comments. 'I only did that because you did this' volleys can last ages, rehashing old ground and recollections from way back in time. How tedious is that need to win!

- A combination of little things can fuel the desire to always have to win. The niggles and discourtesies that over time escalate, becoming increasingly annoying and proof of ways we feel we're taken for granted and not sufficiently valued or respected. Big things are often dealt with immediately they happen, but smaller hurts and irritations can fester and gradually accumulate until they erupt, sometimes over something that appears trivial.

- Eventually feeling compelled to address those ongoing minor issues can start to feel like a battle we need to win. But what if the other person is dismissive or disagrees with our viewpoint? It can prompt a more serious exchange about who's in the right and who's wrong.

- And actually, being right doesn't always feel so good. Some people become habituated to continually nit-pick and find fault but many life-experiences are a compromise. When we go out for a meal with friends do we want to focus on the speed of the service, whether the cutlery is on the table, if it's too noisy at the next table, or does it make for a happier experience to relax, enjoy being out of the house and choose to go with the flow. Our critical observations may be correct but do we really need to regard it as a win when we're constantly on the look out, complaining, ruining everyone's evening, possibly hoping to get money deducted from the bill.

- Always having to win may well be evidence of underlying issues and concerns. Those who consistently feel compelled to prove a point may struggle with their confidence, be insecure or not feel in control of their life. They may think that by being vigilant they'll appear more knowledgeable, important and will win the respect of others, not necessarily realising that their behaviour makes others feel stressed and uncomfortable.

- Sometimes it's important to ask ourselves, 'do I want to be right or would I rather be happy?' It's not always a positive decision to be smug and shout, 'see, I told you I was right!' It's not always essential to win.

Winning can sometimes be a personal victory, noting privately that we're correct, in the right, have succeeded, but not needing to shout about every fault, flaw or shortcoming that we've witnessed. If others scrutionised us that rigorously we'd be stressed, uncomfortable and protest that we're only human. Remember that being along for the ride, letting some things go and enjoying the experience, relaxing in each other's company is a win in itself.

Of course, there are times when it's appropriate to compete, push ourselves and try our best to win, but equally it's good to recognise those times when winning is a more subtle, low-key result. Winning is only one aspect of a successful life.


Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

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