by Catherine DeAngelis
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa
Life engineers us with a fallacy that we are either a winner or a loser. Some of us then, may or may not subscribe to Mother Teresa’s words. There are many realities associated with a win or lose mentality.
We can set out to do great things, or we just don’t, and simply allow others to do the great things.
There is a bombardment today upon us to win – choose your medium. We place pressures on ourselves to compete, be better, attain more things, and tell ourselves it is enough, or it is not enough, I want more – I want it all!
Hockey games, Olympics or television shows like the Amazing Race and America’s Got Talent, keep us charged and on the edge of our seats. We pass and fail exams, and strive to be on the honour roll. We cheer others on because – we want someone to “win.”
Emotions in Handling Win or Loss
Emotions are at the hallmark of a sports winner’s or a sports loser’s mind and play an integral role in whether they can handle winning or losing at the game. It parallels what every human being, from the developmental phase of early childhood to adulthood, has engaged in emotionally for the sake of winning at something or another.
Dr. Alan Goldberg (Dr. G) is an expert and author of several books in the field of applied sport psychology. He works with athletes and teams across all sports at every level. He is noted as helping athletes overcome fears and blocks to getting unstuck and back on track.
In Dr. G’s newsletter Handling Winning and Losing, it states in every athletic contest there is always a winner and a loser, a winning squad or a losing one. “The athletic winner experiences emotions that vary in degrees of intensity such as ecstatic, satisfied, confident, vindicated, superior, haughty, happy, relaxed, like he’s “Da man,” humble, empathy for the loser or any number of other feelings, even including sad and let down.”
“The athletic loser experiences emotions from distraught, depressed, angry, resentful, sad, anxious, like a failure, frustrated, inadequate, cheated, or sometimes, even satisfied and successful.”
Dr G says explains that “when we allow these strong emotions to sail our ship, we will almost always end up in deep doo-doo, smashed and broken on the rocks.”
Are all humans meant to be winners, who are supposed to have it, that dream that is so unattainable? We live in a dynamic western society, where our customs and cultural context create an even more complexity around the matter.
How we define whether we win or lose, is a personal matter and sometimes it is not. But a win can give it all to someone, and it offers an experience we are winners too. To face the loss is a matter of having our heads screwed on tight, ensuring we know ourselves well enough, that it doesn’t make it bad that we didn’t have the wherewithal to meet the challenge of gaining whatever it was we were seeking to achieve.
Animals vs. Humans
What happens when we take a walk over to the animal kingdom? In Win, Lose or Quit? Your animal brain would rather quit than lose. Don’t cave! an article by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D. author of Your Neurochemical Self, says “that your higher brain says “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” Your animal brain says “avoid losing no matter what.”
Dr. Breuning admits that she was a quitter when she was young, so she was fascinated to learn how animals resolve their differences. Each animal mentally compares itself to the other guy. If it thinks it can win, it goes for it. If it thinks it might lose, it backs off. Losing can be deadly in the animal world, where there are no doctors to patch up your wounds. Discretion is the better part of valor.
Avoid Losing No Matter What?
Beliefs to win or to lose at life can start false from childhood on up. We get stuck at “avoid losing no matter what.” That loser or winner mentality can come to us from parents, caregivers, siblings, and teachers, even from the classroom bully. And many of us work from our registered records with that inner developed compilation of what winning and losing means to us. We carry over thinking as something as simple as once being told “you loser” or “you are going to be a doctor” that dictates our modus operandi throughout life.
The best part of getting as good as it gets to meeting a winning life point on:
- Know thyself, make self-awareness a priority
- Understand emotions/self-regulate (stop the blame-game)
- Set goals and objectives
- Define them
- Know the obstacles
- Explore how to overcome blocks
- Outline benefits and ask questions – knowledge is power!
- Make a step-by-step roadmap on how to get there
- Keep a journal of feelings during the process
- Strategize often and repeat all of the above regularly.
Good to Win or Good to Lose
Depending on our experiences, how we self-regulate our thoughts, emotions and feelings, positive or negative are what equates to our being “good to win” or “good to lose.”
Mastery of life is around what we experienced and what we repeated to ourselves in our mind over and over to believe what is important in life. For most, we are able to choose one or the other, and for others, it may not be so easy!
Whether we face the reality or not, there is time to be consciously awake without worrying about what is at stake. We can find health and joy in living day-to-day and see “oneness” everywhere. It is perfectly okay to forgo running to catch up with the other guy to stay in the race, or to be that guy who wins, hands up at the finish line. Even better, it can be splendor to linger by the roadside, taking a deep breath and revelling in the rush knowing that we almost got there.