Who doesn’t love a good competition – whether it be a ballgame, quest for expertise, or to have a physical edge? We have been conditioned to be in pursuit of excellence, and to admire achievement in ourselves and others. This is the stuff the modern world is made of. And it has its roots deep throughout history: War games, hunting parties, territorial superiority – competition is in our blood and DNA. Leaders were chosen for their physical prowess, and their ability to overcome an opponent.
Although I loved to play this masculine game in worldly affairs, it was not native to my makeup. I never liked group sports because competition wasn’t very strong in my nature. But I learned to compete in areas where I could excel, namely academic, and worked my way up to medicine. I learned to put on the edge physically, and took up running and working out. I tried to polish the exterior to perhaps look just a bit better than the girls I was hanging out with.
Have you ever noticed when you are in pursuit of a goal or in competition how your adrenaline flows? The stress hormones course throughout your system to keep you on edge. This is a great testosterone booster, but can absolutely destroy a woman’s receptivity. Competition and goal setting are not estrogen-dominated games. In fact, the goal of a child is counter to our fertility. My last conception, the most challenging one, occurred not the month that I got everything right, but when everything had gone wrong.
When I was in medical school, my most challenging class was pathology. I usually made high B’s on my exams. The best grade I ever got, however, was on a test I planned to “toss out” because I had a migraine headache the night before and was unable to study for the exam. I was given a pill that knocked me out, and woke up just in time to make it for class, unprepared and unstudied. I was not on my edge, I was not in competitive mode, I was in “Oh well, this won’t count” mode. I took the exam in minutes, and found out I had aced it.
There is another way to open up to what we want most, and that is to let go and become receptive. This is not an effort-based game. Effort is a sign of conflict between incompatible desires. Every time we are in pursuit of something, fear of not achieving it is equally strong, contracting access to our creative powers within. It can push us into conquering the world, but we don’t conquer the source of life we carry. We open up to it, leave it alone, and let it flow.
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