Handling losing

 In Winning & Losing

Photo cred: en.wikipedia.org

Ooo-eee competition can be hard to deal with, can’t it?

There are so many elements present: stress, worries, doubts, fears, etc. How you show up is important. How you deal with mistakes is important. This doesn’t even include physically performing the skills which by the way get shoved aside when there are so many mental factors popping up. Many of which don’t go away and they grow! If you are worrying, stressing or thinking you can’t perform the physical skills necessary to compete; you cannot think and do. Try it. Try reading the paper and thinking about all the stuff you have to do at work today. You can’t do it. You will get through it but not as effectively and not at all if there are a bunch of emotions tied to some parts of your work.

First concept for handling losing: what happens with this ball of craziness? You lose. You lose the match. You lose the game. You lose the account. You don’t get a good grade. But most importantly you lose. You are not present and don’t have the ability to ‘be in’ the situation. The first thing to understand about losing is that the sense of loss can be diminished by learning to more effectively cope with all that comes with it. This gives you the ability to (at the very least) feel like you were ‘in the game’. Once you find a way to ‘be in’ it, losing is not so terrible because you know you’ve done all that you could. Bottom line, you are not always going to win.

Second concept for handling losing: losing is attached to outcome. Is that the only important thing? What about all the other things that went well, right or good? A former client used to say, the whole thing was crap. I’d ask, the whole thing? How many minutes do you perform? Out of that amount of time how much doesn’t go the way you’d like it to? She said 30 seconds out of 8 minutes. We then started talking about the other 7:30 and all the good things that happened during a majority of her performance versus being focused on :30. It’s important to find the successful moments and point them out.

Summary of concepts one & two for handling losing: how can you handle it better? Don’t just show up physically prepared but not mentally prepared. Learn to deal with mental competition. It’s going to be there so you can learn to deal with it or not but if you learn to deal with it you will be able to be present and ‘play the game’ which means you’ll be able to give the best you’ve got. Losing from that place doesn’t seem so terrible because you aren’t leaving it to chance; your head and body are aligned. Also, losing from that place leaves the opportunity to find the many successful moments. Find them and take note.

Even if I don’t feel like the world is completely crumbling, how do I let go of losing? I suggest that clients use a reflective practice using these three questions: what went good, what was challenging and what can you work to improve on. Why? It’s always important to point out the good. The challenging, well, we’ll always remember it but it’s important to get it out of your head. With some clients, I have them write it down on a small piece of paper and throw it away. Writing down what you can improve on moves you out of emotion and into tactical or action and gives you goal for the next day.

If you struggle to deal with losing, you may never win.


Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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