Recognizing the difference can save you tons of time wasted in the wrong job, the wrong friendships, and the wrong relationship. There is a type of satisfaction that comes with second place. An understanding that given the right tweak (a little more effort, a different breakfast, one more push-up, a different outfit) we can achieve the goals we dream of. Coming in second motivates us to try harder, think differently and strive to be perfect.
Being placed in second is different. You don't know you are out of the competition. You are so use to putting in effort, that you don't know you are internalizing an external problem. It's quicksand. Not only are you not worth the time, you aren't worth the effort to tell you that you aren't worth the time. We spend more time rationalizing why we are there, or that it will get better, than trying to actually move forward. Perfection changes from a mindset to an illusion.
Learn to be aware of when you are being placed second. Understand what it feels like. Recognize when you are doing it to others. Fully comprehend the emotional toll it takes, and when it comes to your goals; never let it happen again.