Why Losing is Winning in Relationships

It’s March Madness, and like for most ordinary, crazed-born-and-bred UNC Tarheel fans, the NCAA tournament brings joys and pangs. Winning is the goal, but it’s not always the outcome. This year was crushing. Last year was celebratory. We fans watch and become captivated and invested because we don’t know the outcome.

But winning shouldn’t always be the goal.  Perhaps in sports and organized contests, yes. But not in our relationships, and our relationships are truly what matter most.

Sometimes our desire to declare victory by getting in the last word and having the “final say” drives us to compete long after the game-over whistle’s been blown. With relationships, we don’t have the advantage of having referees (outside of professional counseling), but we can and should work towards gracefully, even intentionally, accepting defeat.

Here’s what defeat in healthy relationships looks like:

  • Letting others feel like they are “right” by having the last say (even when we know they are “wrong”)
  • Letting others feel like they “won” an argument when the argument itself is of no consequence (which let’s admit it, we’re quick to argue about a lot of stupid stuff)
  • Putting others before the needs of our own self-righteous, fully-combative, always-wanting-to-win ego
  • Non-brooding, non-sulking silence (no pouting allowed)

I am not going to kid you that intentionally letting others have the last word comes easily. It doesn’t because our ego is winning-wired. It wants to blurt out answers and defenses. Clever come-backs get bonus points. But with mindfulness, we aren’t our ego. The ego is part of us, but we work to control it vs. let it control us. The more we separate from ego-energy, the more we connect to Source energy.

With our most important relationships, giving and receiving love and support – not winning – is not the goal. When we lose with intention, we return to a state of love and acceptance. When we accept defeat, or at least appear to, we are quietly acknowledging to ourselves that we don’t need to be right in order to feel loved and accepted. And that knowledge is a small victory in and of itself.

By losing, we actually win. And by losing, others win. So you know what that means, losing is actually a win-win. Go team!