Losing is even a “hands-off” topic, because who really wants to discuss losing? However, if you are in the game long enough, you’ll experience it.
Really good teams and athletes possess a different mindset. They are so confident, that there is little doubt that they will win! This type of belief is actually what makes them so successful. So, here are five facts of the big loss and five things to do if you experience it.
- It is a shock that the loss happened, and yes, there is sadness and anger, but the overriding emotion becomes a lack of any feeling. The immediate feeling is complete numbness.
- The BIG LOSS is more mentally and emotionally painful than any physical pain encountered throughout conditioning or an injury. It hits the core self.
- “Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.” When you win, “everybody” will want to be a part of it, from pats on the back to phone-calls and text messages. However, when you lose, it’s just you. You’ll then realize who is really there for you.
- The loss will ALWAYS stay with you. There is so much emotion involved, that it actually becomes time-stamped in our memory.
- What follows in the days and weeks ahead is part of the grieving process: Denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. It is a healthy process and there is no speed course.
5 Steps after The Big Loss:
- Read & Re-read: The Man in the Arena & The Man Who Fights the Bull (below).
“Bullfight critics ranked in rows
Crowd the enormous Plaza full
But only one is there who knows
And he’s the man who fights the bull.”
It’s you that put in the hard work, the sacrifice, and the one who played. Refuse to give anyone else the power of how you’ll feel, especially after The Big Loss. Some of those emotions like “letting people down” or “embarrassment” serve no positive feedback. You’ll have to remove that type of mind-garbage as quickly as it arrives.
- There is nothing that can be spoken that will ease the pain. One avenue I have tried with athletes though is, “its okay.” The Big Loss although very painful, will not kill you. It is an inconvenience, not a tragedy. What happens is that our inability to move-on is what causes the mental strife.
- The ball bounces funny sometimes, and usually with great teams and players, it comes down to a hinge moment: One shot or play that makes all of the difference. If you lost from that one play, move-on.
- You have to know that “it is okay.” You lost, and you don’t have to like it, but there is nothing that you can do about it now, except, move-on.
- A larger piece of experiencing The Big Loss is your faith and acceptance as a person outside of your sport. It is a difficult to accept, but if all you consider yourself is “an athlete”, then the Big loss is not even the real issue. You have to believe that “you are not only how you play, you are so much more.”
- Okay, one more….“People have no idea how many times you have to finish 2nd in order to finish 1st.” – Jack Nicklaus
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness