Losing Your Entire Life Teaches You How to Win
I started winning for the first time when I realized that the feeling of “losing” is the first step towards winning at anything in life.
Yet, society teaches us that “winning” is an instant result, not a process or habit cultivated over the years (where you win and lose), if not decades of practice and mental resilience.
Losing is defined as “suffering, resulting in, or relating to defeat in a game or contest.”
Luckily, life isn’t a game or contest. Life is a finite yet endless series and cycles of games and contests that never end until it’s your last day on earth.
If you lost at one game, it could give you an insight, a lesson, a contextual view that can help you win at a different type of game later. Each time we lose, it’s up to us to take that data and apply it to either win or lose in the next game or event.
The real issue we are tackling in this article is the judgment our minds naturally create around this feeling of losing, which keeps people in that mentality forever.
But, notice the first word in the definition of losing is suffering.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” — Dalai Lama
You will lose. You will be defeated. You will fail many times. You will go through moments that make you feel like you should quit. You might cry. You might try to go to sleep some nights and feel so much pain. You might question your abilities and potential.
I can guarantee you all of that will happen.
Ask anyone who’s ever won at anything in life. Despite the Instagram highlight peaks of their picture-perfect life, there are 100 darker moments they chose not to share, or you decide to disregard because it’s contrary to the perfect mental image we build successful people to be in our minds.
We believe losing is objective, but truth is the feeling of losing is subjective.
There are people out there who are genuinely, on paper, winning at life, and yet they go to sleep every night depressed, anxious, unable to feel the happiness for the wins in their life, and feel like a loser.
If you work on how to deal and cope with the subjective feeling of losing, you will objectively learn how to win more because you can lose without taking it personally.
What makes people feel like they are losing is the feeling, the suffering we mentally and emotionally go through to battle the uncertainty of our success and, more importantly, our certainty and trust of our identity of being a loser or winner.
I spent most of my life losing.
I got terrible grades and didn’t know how to be smart.
I always felt lazy and tired.
I barely had any close friends.
I had no real fun or meaningful excitement in my life.
Losing, losing, losing, and more losing is what my life looked like…
Eventually, my mind got so conditioned to losing that it became okay with the feeling.
Okay, with the feeling of losing.
Not necessarily just okay, but I stopped judging myself for being a loser.
And do you know what happened?
I began the first steps of accepting my feelings and thoughts that were telling me I was a loser.
So many of us aren’t able to do what we want because…
The second we start to do something new or different, and we are naturally not good at it….and we start to get the feelings and thoughts of losing…
We judge ourselves. We question who we are.. We have trouble accepting the truth.
Our brains unconsciously flashback to a moment in time when we were younger and felt the painful emotional sting of losing, and usually how other people judged us for losing.
Next thing you know, you get up and say…I don’t want to feel like losing anymore, and you stop doing what you were doing, and do anything to give you the feeling of winning, even though the feelings don’t match objective reality.
Yet, the feeling of losing is a checkpoint, a necessary gate you must cross through many times to get good eventually, build your skills needed to start winning.
Doing something new or challenging and feel like you’re losing?
You’re not losing, even if your mind says and believes so…
You are breaking the false perceptual dichotomy our brains try to frame objective reality based on the level of pain and uncertainty we face in a single moment.
Next time you are making something new or challenging, and your mind starts sending you these signals of losing, failure, etc.
Tell yourself or write down that you are just crossing through a necessary checkpoint.
Congratulations, you’ve just achieved a right of passage, the cost of creativity, the existential downpayment you must pay to achieve a win, success, etc.
Another tip, is to focus on reducing the emotional pain in other parts of your life, like meditating, exercising, journaling, therapy, etc.
For full honesty, I must admit, even in writing this article…I’m going through the process right now as I speak.
As I’m writing, my mind is telling me:
“Mark, this article sucks.”
“Dude, you are a terrible writer.”
“Can people even understand this?”
I’m grateful to have all these thoughts and feelings because it’s what makes a great writer. Nobody who is actually good at what they do believes that whatever they create on the first shot is excellent.
Most people, are never able to achieve their dreams. Not because they have no talent, or aren’t smart enough, or don’t have the time. It’s because they can’t get past their inner feeling of losing.
Luckily for me, I lost so much, my life, that my inner feeling of losing became my best friend.
Once I accepted it, I started experimenting with random things I was interested in.
Suddenly, I had a mental permission slip to try new things because I didn’t have the pressure of perfection or internal happiness expectation, which prevents most from starting.
The reality is all winners know the secret is to work on things seriously daily or as often as possible, and that requires you to get past your inner loser almost every time.
Get out there today and LOSE!
It’s the only way to win, in the long term :)
Yet those who fear or are uncomfortable losing, and get up and leave, will truly lose in the long term.