Emotional failure is not a defeat, but an opportunity.

Learning to lose without suffering excess is more important than winning. Each defeat must be understood as an invitation to analysis, in which we can evaluate the reasons why we did not achieve our goal. This gives us the possibility of rectifying and looking for new solutions.  However, victory has an euphoric effect and since we like it, we usually don't spend time thinking about how it happened, because what counts is enjoying the moment.

A defeat in a generic sense can appear in many areas of our lives (the couple, work, health...) and has many dimensions, ranging from minor situations such as a promotion, a job loss or a breakup, to serious situations such as death or chronic illness. The fact of losing something is called "loss" in psychology, being a common circumstance that happens to us on many occasions throughout our lives. Since the usual thing as we get older is to lose advantages that have been previously achieved, being prepared to digest a loss without excessive suffering is a good attitude to continue without doing too much psychological damage.

One of the main keys is to understand that a defeat should not be seen as a failure, but rather as a new opportunity. When we lose something that is important to us, there is a void left over from the loss that causes a state of restlessness that prompts either to recover the lost object, or to replace it with another. A process of reflection in which self-care prevails without excessive self-criticism, can be useful to be better prepared for the next time something similar happens to us. The faster we change our perception of defeat and stop seeing it as a failure, the closer we will be to reaching the best version of ourselves.

Some general rules for managing a loss:

1) A defeat is always associated with a new opportunity.

When we lose, we tend to revel in our sense of frustration without looking forward. Losing something creates an opportunity to find something better to replace what came before (a new job, another partner...). You have to give the duel some time but it is important to prepare to continue and for this, you have to be able to take advantage of the next opportunity.

2) Accept the reality of the facts.

It is important to stick to reality and not adopt an excessively incriminating or exculpatory position. Avoiding manipulating memories for self-protective purposes is not the solution either. Assuming the frustration but with a constructive attitude is the best possible option.

3) Learn from the mistake.

Learning from one's own mistakes is decisive so as not to repeat the next time. Analyzing what happened so as not to make the same mistake again is what will inevitably help us to be more successful next time.

4) If everything goes wrong, don't make it worse.

The frustration that appears after losing usually leads us to anger, but this feeling only makes things worse. Anger leads to destruction and is the main enemy of well-being. It is important to recognize your own emotions to see the positive in the worst case scenario.

5) Stop thinking dichotomously.

Usually our mind plans things in a dichotomous way, making decisions between the best and the worst alternative. However, there are many outcomes in the same situation that are between the best and the worst that can happen to us. All these intermediate alternatives are difficult to assess because they do not represent either a definitive victory or a net defeat. Stop thinking in a dichotomous way, and understand the advantages of each possible alternative is a good approach to avoid ending up frustrated.

6) Avoid anticipating a certain victory.

We often feel favored to get something that we believe belongs to us in advance due to our own worth. However, reality is complex and in each situation there are so many variables that nothing is certain until the result is firm. Avoiding complacency and anticipating an open outcome prepares us for a potential defeat when everything is in our favor.

7) Eradicate “all or nothing thinking”.

People tend to idealize victories and magnify defeats, understanding that winning is something extraordinary and losing is something abominable. However, every victory comes with loss and every defeat comes with gains. Even sometimes, losing something can be gaining in the long term (losing a job is an opportunity to renew ourselves and find something better in the future, for example), so we should not think in an absolutist way.

8) Keep a long-term perspective.

It is curious that something in the short term can be very favorable, but it can be totally inadvisable in the long term. It is important to always keep in mind the long-term perspective to make decisions and understand that there are many situations that involve short-term defeats but are great advances in a longer stretch of time.

M. Ponce, Psychiatrist