According to YourDictionary.Com the act of one-upmanship is the practice of, or skill in, seizing an advantage or gaining superiority over others. It is the art of outdoing or showing up a rival or competitor, as in exploits, privileges, or honors. Some ruthless personality types will stop at nothing to get the upper hand and establish dominance over others. They will use every unscrupulous and dispiriting means they can think of to achieve a phony sense of pre-eminence.
The majority of us can recall at sometime in our youth engaging in the childish attempt of one-upping our playmates. We would make the most ridiculous comparisons by fabricating differences to make ourselves appear as if we were superior to one another, when in actuality, we really weren’t. I remember my brother and I would sometimes battle each other in this way for hours on end, trying to outdo one another with the most unrelenting focus. He was three years older so he generally won out.
I have a girlfriend who calls me quite frequently. She is burdened with a highly-competitive streak. She always reminds me of how much better she feels she is doing than I am. I marvel at her all consuming efforts and her full-fledged commitment to make me feel inferior to her on some level or another. She goes on and on and it seems as if I can never get a word in edgewise. I suppose she sees me as some kind of rival – someone with whom she feels a need to control by claiming to have outnumbered every one of my recent accomplishments. Anyone in his or her right mind would not listen to someone so determined to outdo them, but I am always fascinated by the underlying reason why she is so intent on doing this to me. Underneath all of her boasting, I believe is someone who desperately needs approval. It is that person who I love and cherish because of her vulnerability. I suppose, she makes these comments of one-upmanship for the promise of enhanced self-esteem, but this false sense of empowerment is only temporary it seems and when it wears off I hear from her again.
Certainly, we are all far from perfect – I being least of all, yet recently I have made the decision to not go along with these types of demoralizing conversations any longer. I think in the end, the constant undercurrent of competition is unhealthy emotionally for both of us.
More Resources –
Book: One-upmanship – How to Win Life’s Little Games without Appearing to Try
Videos – One-upmanship