How to Recover From a Big Loss

March 20, 2013 | Dr. Rob Bell

Handshake Line

For one team to come out on top, another has to lose. This scenario is played out during every season. Every athlete at some point experiences a big loss—one that stings more than others. (Learn how to avoid loss aversion.)

Usually, the big loss comes toward the end of the season, when an opportunity is missed and a team or player fails to advance in the post-season. You wanted it so bad, and the after effects produce a terrible feeling.

It may be difficult to accept, but if you really consider yourself an athlete, this type of loss is not even the real issue. You have to believe that you're more than how you play. Getting over a big loss takes a strong self-faith and acceptance of the person you are outside of your sport. (See how to improve your mental toughness.)

With any big loss, there is initial shock, feelings of numbness, loneliness, self-blame, denial, anger and sometimes even depression. The loss may always stay with you, but eventually you have to accept it if you truly want to get better. Here are some steps to take along the way.

Read and Reread The Man in the Arena & The Man Who Fights the Bull

"Bullfight critics ranked in rows
Crowd the enormous Plaza full
But only one is there who knows
And he's the man who fights the bull."

Remove Mind Garbage

Remember, you put in the hard work and made the sacrifices, so refuse to give anyone else the power to control how you feel. This happens when you have thoughts like, "I'm letting people down" or "I feel embarrassed." These feelings serve no purpose and prevent positive feedback. Let them go as quickly as they come.

Move On

Although nothing can be said to ease the pain, a big loss will not kill you. What happens is that our inability to move on is what causes the mental strife.

Remember: It Happens to Everyone

Sometimes the ball takes a funny bounce. For any great team or player, it can come down to one shot or play. This pivotal movement makes all the difference, but if you lose because of that one play, you have to know that "it is okay." You lost. You don't have to like it, but there's nothing you can do about it. Next week, season or sometime in between, someone else will make a mistake leading to their own big loss.

Photo: tommytoy.typepad.com

Dr. Rob Bell
- Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach and owner of DRB & associates. He has worked with champions on the PGA Tour and has...
Dr. Rob Bell
- Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach and owner of DRB & associates. He has worked with champions on the PGA Tour and has...
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