Coming to Terms with Losing Everything

13 Jan, 2018

Losing isn’t pleasant, and so we try to avoid it at all costs. Being called a loser in high school has probably caused many traumatic experiences that still play a role in our adult lives. Being a loser in high school meant you sucked, you lost, you failed. You weren’t the cool kid (anymore), your life was over. Go home, cry your eyeballs out, done.

But losing is a vital part of growing. Chances are if you haven’t lost many times in your life, you probably haven’t won much either. A lot of losers from high school are now the winners in real life. And the cool kids from school work for the people they used to call losers. Chew on that for a minute.

Losing is an adventure

Going through life without much losing is reasonably easy. Easy is nice, but the journey of easy isn’t really something to write home about. It’s the road to a mediocre, boring, and secure life (although, not so secure anymore these days). If that’s your way, that’s fine.

However, if you like to lean on the more adventurous side of life, crush goals, become the best you can be, the aim for the moon and reach the stars kinda thing, then, losing becomes a big part of your life. To go through a long life of losing, to finally become the winner we want to be, we have to make losing work for us. The best way to do that is to realize losing isn’t an end game. Losing is just part of the journey. Losing is a setup for a comeback. To learn, adapt, and come back harder than ever.

Losing is your personal Mr. Miyagi that says: “Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” (get squished) just like grape.”

To make losing work for us, we need to change our mindset about losing and get excited about it. Let’s look at some big parts of life were losing can become winning.

Losing your job

If you have your life all figured out and have a job that’s working for you, losing that job can feel like the end of your world. Especially when you’re the type that favors certainty above risk. How are you going to pay your rent? What will your family and friends think of you? How will you ever find another job? Why am I not good enough? All these questions racing through your mind because you have become a fucking loser.

But, losing your job can be the best thing that happens to you. Your job was fine, but not more than that. Now is an excellent time to re-evaluate what you want to do in life. You could make a career switch, or start that business you’ve always dreamt about. You’ll get a chance to be in a different environment, meet new people, get inspired. Maybe you’ll even realize the risky side is much more fun than the comfort zone. Maybe losing your job is the sparkle that sets your whole life on fire for the better.

Whether or not all this will happen depends on you. Will you fall down seven times and get up eight, or will you fall down once and act as if it’s the end of the world? The choice is yours.

When your friends leave you

Friendships rarely last forever. That’s just the way it is. Maybe you are lucky and have a real friend that will stick around no matter what. Good for you, but for the most part, they come and go. This is because a lot of friendships are based on interests and commonalities and not on who we really are. Our friends need us to fulfill a specific role (the tough guy, the funny friend, the football-loving beer-drinking douche), and when we don’t fit the part anymore, our job is complete. You’re fired, get outta here. Pack up your shit and go, you are no longer welcome. Friendship done, the end.

Getting ditched isn’t fun. But, most of the time it isn’t because you are a horrible person. It’s just that your boats are floating the other way. You’ve traveled this far together, and it was all fun and giggles, but now you have to split ways to reach your personal destination. Maybe this is farewell; maybe you’ll see each other again. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that you don’t sit there like a loser feeling like you aren’t good enough. Take a moment to reflect. Have you grown apart because you are growing, and they are not, or the other way around? Did you stop playing football or decided drinking doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore? What happened? Most of the time, it’s just that your interests are not the same anymore.

Free seats

If friends don’t accept you for who you are, were they really your friends? And if they don’t accept you, isn’t it for the better they leave? Sure, you can adapt and pretend like you still are the same person they want you to be, but then you would be lying to yourself. If you think losing friends is terrible, try pretending like you are someone else just to satisfy other people’s needs.

What’s great about losing old friends that don’t resonate with you anymore is they free some seats for new friends that are down with who you are. See it as an option for an upgrade, rather than a loss. This is an opportunity to excel and move on, or to bow your head and try to conform to the status quo of your ‘friends’.

What will happen is entirely up to you. Will this loss be the end or a new beginning? The choice is yours.

Losing your belongings

In the old days, material was needed to survive. Clothes to protect us from the weather, an axe to catch our food and a wheel for easy transport. Nowadays, we still have the necessary equipment for survival, but most of the stuff we have is just that, stuff. Yet, we cling to it like our lives depend on it.

Material things can become a real burden on our lives, and losing them can be a liberating experience. Maintaining the house, fixing the car, ironing all the shirts, polishing the silverware, keeping the Star Wars collection clean all add up to a lot of hours, money, and occupation of the mind.

We identify with our stuff and act like they are what define us: “I’m a BMW driver”, “I’m an Apple guy”, “I’m a weird dude that has a huge collection of superstar panties”. Besides the fact that identifying yourself with materialistic things is somewhat strange, it also keeps us locked in the place we live and are right now. Because we have to look after it to protect it, we are less likely to chase an adventurous dream, and so we sit tight with all our fancy stuff. We’ve all seen the extreme hoarders that have so much fancy stuff, yet the rest of their lives is in complete shambles.

New possibilities

At first, when we lose the car or the panties collection, we feel like we’re missing a limb, only to find out a bit later on we don’t really miss it all that much. In fact, it feels like there’s a burden missing from our shoulder. All of a sudden we have free space, free time, and more money. You can buy new fancy stuff with your free space, time and money, or take a trip. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the loss of material things creates an opportunity for new things and experiences and isn’t a loss at all.

What will happen depends on you. Will you get rid of the things that don’t make you happy and live a lighter life, or will you hold on to your panty collection like your life depends on it? The choice is yours.

When your health declines

Losing your health is a tricky one, especially when it’s not reversible, but it can still be a big win. Being sick is our body its way to tell us something is out of balance, and this is our cue to fix it. This is a great moment to reflect on our lives and to see if we are living to our full potential.

Maybe it’s time to kick some bad habits out of the door and really improve. If the illness is fatal, this could be the point where you really wake up and start to see what’s essential for you and double down on that. Your life might be shorter than you anticipated before you got sick, but these last couple of years might end up being the best years of your life.

Sometimes the body is alive and kicking, but the mind is in pressing need of maintenance. When going through changes, it can feel like you are losing your mind. Maybe you peeked behind the curtain and realized things aren’t always what they seem. Or maybe you are on a journey to get to know yourself better, only to find you are not who you thought you where.

This can cause some serious challenges. But fear not. Although it might seem dark at the moment, at the end of the tunnel is a new, improved you waiting. But, you have to pull through. Otherwise, you end up a crazy mofo, and that’s not why you started the journey, right? 

What will happen depends on you. Will you pivot your health and grow stronger than ever, or will you surrender and slowly decompose? The choice is yours.

Life is all about losing

When we realize everything is cyclical and nothing lasts forever, we will inevitably suffer losses. Losing is great because if we don’t encounter losses, we get stuck in a moment in time, where everything around us changes, and we stand still. Losing is our opportunity to upgrade our lives. Every upside has a downside, and obviously, every downside has an upside. It’s just a different frame of mind.

When you lose something/someone, it might be a sign that it was time to split ways. Your journey together has ended, and now you continue on your own. Maybe this is some spiritual mumbo jumbo, but it sounds right to me, and it’s a great way to deal with a loss.

If you focus on the loss and get in a rut, things become a problem, and you really end up a loser. The reality is it doesn’t have to be this way. If you accept the loss for what is and see it as an opportunity to grow and innovate, it can be the best thing that happens in your life. 

It depends on you

Sometimes a loss is really a loss, and all the positive thinking can’t change the situation. Someone has died, or someone has lost his mind to the point of no return. This is a moment for grief. But, you should treat grief with a sense of purpose. Grief fully and take the time necessary, but not a minute longer. In some countries, when someone dies, there are only tears of joy and celebrations for someone’s life with dance and laughter. It’s all a point of perspective.

Not being afraid of losing creates more leverage and self-trust, which leads to a better life. If you are terrified of losing your job, you’ll get exploited sooner or later. But if the boss knows not to fuck with you because you will walk away without looking back, they will think twice before giving you a hard time. If you are terrified of losing your friends, they will notice, lose respect, and you’ll become the target for the whole group.

So next time you suffer a loss, will you be a loser, or will you be someone who has an opportunity to grow? Are you moping that everything is gone, will you reinvent yourself to a 2.0 version? 

What will happen depends on you. Will you sit there like a loser, get in a funk and pretend as the world has ended? Or will you take the bull by the horns, say fuck it and see the brighter day in front of you? If you’ve read this far you should know by now: the choice is always yours.

Photo credit: Ryan McGuire