Ask any gambler, professional or casual, about the mindset they enter when they start to lose. The progression goes something like this:
“My luck is just about to turn,” “I still have a chance to win big,” “I hope I can win back just enough to get even.”
Then they recognize they’ve lost.
Losing in life follows the same progression; some people just move through the steps more quickly than others.
Watch any football player who just lost a hard fought game and you’ll witness that loss has a progression and takes some time to set in. Those who process it more quickly are the ones who are ready to play again; the others go into a slump, sometimes a career ending one.
Denial allows a losing feeling to hang around much longer than is productive.
Even though it’s clearly evident to anyone watching our game that we’ve lost, it’s not so clear to us. That’s because our emotion isn’t matching our reality and the illusion that we’re still in the game remains.
Hanging on to a loss never gets less painful. Time may pass but the loss remains in the present.
The popular prescription is: Just let go. If it were that simple, anyone wearing Nike’s would be in shape.
So is there a way to end your losing streak?
My sense is the first step is recognizing the game is over. I remember writing years ago, “The projectionist has gone home but my heart remains in the theatre.” That was me recognizing the facts and knowing that I had to process the pain.
Processing the pain is not rehashing the game. It’s sitting with the unsettled sensations and feeling your own pain. By doing so, you are taking action on what your body has been attempting to get you to do – deal with your loss.
The more you think about it, the more it hurts. Denying that it happened is just more thinking. Talking to yourself about acceptance is just more thinking. Thinking is like the friend you have who is always talking about what they’re going to do, but never doing it.
Feeling your own pain is the only way to process your loss. That’s the shortcut that’s always available at every turn.
I wish I could tell you that processing your pain isn’t painful; it is.
It really comes down to this: How long do you want your pain to last?
If you want to keep it around for a lifetime, keep talking about it. If not, feel your pain and watch it go down the drain.
All The best,
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