- Comparing yourself to others, and feeling you've won only when you beat them.
- Comparing yourself to yourself, and feeling you've won with self-improvement.
He also asked for comments, which I posted there, and am posting here as well:
I relate to both sets and find them compatible, as follows:
My self-esteem comes from Q's, Placement, & Titles. To achieve those, I have to be improving, and keeping my dogs engaged by having fun. Placement in dog agility doesn't have anything to do with "beating other people", but it serves as a good measuring rod for my own self-improvement. How can I know if I'm as good as I can be if I don't compare myself to what others are succeeding in doing? Maybe I can learn to go a little faster, get tighter turns, straighter lines, more focus, better acceleration, improved body language, etc. I am never jealous of others' achievement, just envigorated to try harder, practice more. I am only competing with myself.
This may sound strange, but my biggest life win, by far, has been figuring out how to let people off the hook, and let my dogs fulfill my great lifelong desire for loyal companionship, undivided attention, and someone to share life with, teach and caretake. All the people in my life are busy doing their own things, ambitious with their own achievements, they rarely look me in the eye and say "what do you want me to do now, let's go". They can't give me what my dogs give me, and that is finally OK. After years of disappointment that family and friends were so busy with themselves they didn't seem to notice what I achieved, didn't want to listen or learn from me, I have finally beat the system!
Which brings up this important point. I love it that AKC provides a framework for competing, and keeps a record of our Q's and Titles. It makes me feel that someone besides myself is watching me, caring how we do, providing benchmarks for measuring our progress, and thinks I'm achieving something "certificate worthy" when I do. My wins are their wins! Hooking into that venue has been very satisfying, and I am always walking around with gratitude in my heart for their significant efforts in organizing this sport. (I only compete in AKC but I presume other clubs provide similar support.)
Thinking this through has been helpful with my mental game, so that's another Upwards and onward for me!