This article problematises the status quo bias in IR socialisation research, and develops an alternative concept of competitive socialisation, through which subaltern actors internalise dominant norms, enhance their competitive edge, and enact more equalised power relations in global politics. The dominant strand of IR socialisation research mostly conceives of socialisation as a status-quo-oriented practice that reinforces the existing power hierarchy, such as teacher-student relationship. This has resulted in a one-sided theory neglecting the importance of proactive and self-directed socialisation efforts embarked upon by subaltern actors themselves. Based on an alternative sociological approach that defines socialisation as a practice of self-enhancement, this article develops the concept of competitive socialisation and articulates alternative pathways to the internalisation of dominant norms. It applies this framework to the cases of Chinese socialisation into the peacekeeping community, and Russia's socialisation into the multilateral development community. These case studies demonstrate that the holistic internalisation of dominant Western norms has enabled Beijing and Moscow to challenge the existing global power hierarchy. This, in turn, resulted in fundamental changes in their behaviours from initial norm rejection, to passive acceptance, and finally to active learning and norm internalisation.