Learn to Lose

Nobody likes to lose, we all like to win, that’s what everybody wants. Why is it, then, so important that we learn to lose?

Did you know that one of the essential lessons you take as a figure skater is falling? Because that’s what you do while learning, you repeat the same move until you master it, and while doing that, you are very much likely to fall, so you might as well fall properly in order to avoid injury. In fact, there are some special exercises dedicated to teach you how to fall.

I wish there were a similar exercise for life falls and fails; a routine or something that helps us practice life’s disappointments and misfortunes, and teach us how to accept loss and failure, shake it off and move on.

So why must you learn to fall?

You can be a beginner or you can be the world’s greatest figure skater, but errors do happen. Sometimes something goes wrong and a fall becomes eminent, and no matter how hard you try to resist, it’s unavoidable. At that moment, there are three possible scenarios:

  • First scenario: You are not aware of the fact that you’re going to fall (which means you’re a beginner) and thus, you are not prepared for it. This can cause some pain, nothing severe hopefully, because a beginner shouldn’t be doing very complicated moves yet.
  • Second scenario: You are aware that you’re going to fall, but you deny it, you keep resisting and trying to fix it pointlessly, meanwhile, not paying attention to the consequences of falling. You fall hard, you smash your head, or break your partner’s rib or limb and take quite some time to recover, you risk your chances of a decent comeback, and produce some damages that can be irreversible.
  • Third scenario: You are aware that you’re going to fall, aware of the risks and consequences, aware of how to minimize your loss, you accept the fall, embrace it, fall properly, and rise gracefully. That’s how professionals do it.

What do you do when life slaps you on the face?

This sport resembles life in so many aspects. We strive, we do some pretty hard moves, we take leaps and jumps, we build skills, succeed, thrive, and defy gravity somehow; and we do all that in a hostile environment, a slippery ground, willing to take us down at any point we ignore it. At that point, life gives us a slap on the face. If we’re not ready for it, it brings us down, and it takes us a long while to get back up and recognize what happened. That is usually the rookie mistake, the untrained skater who didn’t see it coming.

Unfortunately, some people, are too arrogant to conform, too proud to learn. Those are the ones who learn their lessons the hard way. It would take them a number of ugly falls before they accept the fact that they need to let go, accept the fall, take it, knowing they will rise gracefully and try again. While those who submissively accept their imperfections and diligently learn to deal with them, those are the ones who move in steady and trusting steps towards their targets.

Are you too arrogant?

Sometimes we are blinded by our ego. We are blinded by the success we achieved, high on the idea that we have it all. When we get slapped in the face, we live in denial, we can’t seem to admit to ourselves that something wrong happened. We bluntly struggle to stay ahead not knowing that we’re maximizing our losses. We start to put in more efforts and resources, but in vain, the fall is eminent, but we are not willing to accept it. When it is finally happening, all we think about and all we focus our energy on is that we DON’T WANT TO FAIL. In the process, we forget that we want to WIN. You might think that it’s the same, but it’s not!

Wanting not to fail is something, and wanting to win is something else. Wanting to win makes us focus on the end result and not on the process. As a result, in our mind, we never stop until we reach our goal. It keeps our focus on the prize and allows our senses to work for its advantage. On the other hand, being over occupied with the process makes us focus on our small failings that are part of our bigger win. We mistake those small clumsy steps for failure and we condemn ourselves with a final result and a bad ending to our endeavors. In other words, we choose to fail when we decide that it’s over; a choice we must take full responsibility for and no one else.

Winning or losing?

It doesn’t really matter whether we win or lose, whether we succeed or fail. At the end of the day, that’s how life goes, sometimes we lose and sometimes we win, and neither lasts forever. What is more important is how we take it. What matters is how we receive the result and what we decide to do with it. Do we take it with optimism or pessimism? Do we want to turn it into something meaningful or waste the effort?

We need to learn to accept our losses, forgive ourselves for them, make our peace with them, and make something good out of them. We must know that the battle is not over until we say it is. This mindset gives us the choice to decide: do we lead our lives? or are we led by circumstances?

The same applies to winning, but winning can be more vicious. When we succeed at something, it doesn’t mean that the struggle is over; it means that there’s a whole new chapter waiting to be written. It is our responsibility to write something beautiful and meaningful in that chapter, and therefore, life is an ongoing endeavor, it doesn’t stop or wait. With time, we learn to go with the flow, we learn to lose so we can win anyway.

Author: Lama Lawand