Why lie about it? Losing sucks. Nobody likes to lose, whether it's in work, politics, sports or love. But here's an angle you may not have considered: Losing can actually be good for you. Losing takes you by the throat and says, "Listen, doofus, there are a few things you need to reconsider." It demands that you take a fresh look at your faults and misguided expectations.
In fact, if you're ready to learn from it, the experience of losing can help turn you into a winner. As Walter Anderson writes in The Confidence Course, "True success is always the last of a string of failed attempts to get it right."
Now, at some point in life, you probably got the idea that you're supposed to win all the time. Society encourages men to be competitive in whatever they do, both professionally and personally, notes Scott Hall, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Dayton who specializes in men's issues.
"It tends to be all or nothing, black or white," Hall says. Yet the most successful people stress the process of winning rather than the end results. For instance, basketball players like Michael Jordan are extremely competitive but seem primarily motivated by a love of the game. They want to win, but more than anything, they want to play.
That's not to say that you shouldn't care about the quality of your performance. Nobody goes into anything hoping to lose, and there's nothing wrong with wanting to succeed in whatever you do. "This becomes a problem, though, when the outcome isn't what you want and you judge your worth as a person based on that," notes Hall. In other words, the question isn't whether you win or lose--it's whether you're willing to accept some losses now so you can get better in the future.
Losing like a winner
So, what can you do to help turn a losing situation around? You can start by throwing a tantrum. Pout and piss and moan. Then, once you've gotten that out of your system, forget about it. That may be easier said than done, but being aware of your anger or disappointment can help you turn negatives into positives.
"Recognize the fact that you have to let go," Dulberg says. "Ask yourself how dwelling on this will move you forward. If you can come up with one good reason, dwell on it all day. But if you're really honest, you won't be able to." Next, move on to the hard part: learning from the situation.
"We seldom, if ever, have any control over outcomes. What we have control over is the process," says Wilbanks. "If you went out and attained your personal goals, even if you still lost, so what? The guy who got the job you wanted may have been better qualified than you, the girl who turned you down may have had a boyfriend--that's the part you can't control.
That's not a life-killer. What's a life-killer is when you go out and get your head handed to you over and over again and never stop to ask, 'Why?'" Yet if you're willing to dig into the reasons you lost, Wilbanks adds, you'll eventually overcome them. "The learning part of losing is finding out where you are in your process," Wilbanks concludes. "There's a great Zen saying I tell athletes: 'I get knocked down seven times, but I get up