One-upmanship, For the Love of You (part 2)


We’re so busy aren’t we? So much going on, we’ve barely got time for each other. And it’s all got so damn competitive hasn’t it? Back-biting, backstabbing, bitching, scraping, scheming, gossiping, it’s all going on, and these are just some of the things we’re conscious of, never mind the subtle stuff we barely recognise. Is this just the way of it? The way of the world? The way things are?

“It all seems like a desperate fight for survival. A dog-eat-dog world, the self-preservation society, the land of the fittest. Everyone seems to be playing the game of one-upmanship to its utmost, and if you don’t know the rules of the game, and can’t seem to make any sense of the confusion this brings, then basically, you’re screwed.”

It could well be that the vast majority of us are now playing the game of one-upmanship so well, we could describe our game playing skills as having become: unconscious competence. In the same way we learn to drive a car, initially it feels very awkward and unsystematic, yet now, if we’ve been driving for some time, it becomes unthinking and automatic.

“In other words, we’ve being playing the game for so long, we rarely think about the rules, and how to play on any kind of conscious level.”

There is a major problem here though. If we’re no longer conscious of playing a game, then the game itself, is out of control. How we play has become sloppy and slovenly. For example, consider what a driving examiner would make of your driving, if you took a test now. There’s a good chance many drivers would fail this test, perhaps the examiner would be appalled at how aggressive or nonchalant and lazy it has all become.

For further example, imagine a game of chess where the players no longer gently think things over, and then move their pieces into place, instead they smash them around the board in an aggressive and unthinking way. The manner in which they take their opponent’s pieces, is to simply discard them, and throw them on the ground. Definitely not how a game of chess should be played.

Coming back to the analogy of driving for a moment, along with failing to pass a test, an added problem is, if we drive in a slovenly lazy or aggressive way, we wear out our cars more quickly, and experience accidents or near misses more often.

And so what of this out of control game of one-upmanship? An overly competitive world, where we often feel threatened by newcomers, strangers or even people we know, is part of the problem. In such instances, we often act in a dismissive or rude manner, in order to gain the advantage.

A world where we must fight for the advantage, in any way we can, leaves us living in a place filled with lack, and to a degree, sadness. It feels like such a sad place when we’ve lost our kindness and time for each other because we fear, either being taken advantage of, or indeed losing the advantage.

“One-upmanship can be as subtle as not even bothering to say hello when we know this will have a negative effect on a kind and warm person. We may look to bring people down in order to gain the advantage. Why should we say hello? Why should we call and wish someone happy birthday? Why should we give anyone the time of day?”

Any moments of unkindness or coldness toward our fellow man – because we fear it may place us at disadvantage – are wasted opportunities. Any time we’re not living as independently as we can, dependant on others, feeding illusions of control, harbouring feelings of inferiority, are misguided moments.

Furthermore, when the mind – at an unconscious level – sees dis-ease as the answer to gaining control over others, and winning the pointless, hateful game of one-upmanship, this, is heartbreaking to see. In fact, we could say: our failing awareness of the competitive, ego-driven, fighting-for-the-top world, we currently live in, is killing us.

If we stop reaching for the top, and reach within instead, we’ll find something interesting: our higher self. Beyond our destructive, game-playing-ego, there’s an awareness and a cleverness waiting patiently. Hello.

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