So, you competed in your first tournament, and things didn’t go as well as you had hoped. What do you do now? How should you deal with this defeat?
First off, give yourself credit for putting yourself out there. It’s the rare few who decide to compete and test themselves under the intense conditions of a tournament. You should congratulate yourself for that. If you’ve spent the last month or two in training for your competition, keep in mind that your training has not been a waste just because you lost. Your Jiu Jitsu is better now than it was before. If you’ve trimmed a bulging waistline to get into a lower weight class, give yourself credit for that. Losing weight is always difficult, and you’ve succeeded. Just because one match didn’t go your way doesn’t mean that your training and dieting were for nothing. Those are successes in their own right. Applaud yourself for those victories.
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Treat yourself. You’ve probably been fairly strict with yourself in the weeks leading up to your competition. Now that it’s over and done with, treat yourself. Order that pizza that you’ve been denying yourself. If you’re of age and can handle it responsibly, have that pint of beer. Or if that’s not to your taste, allow yourself whatever indulgence you’ve been abstaining from for the past few weeks. Don’t let your indulgences ruin your hard work losing weight and getting fit! But take one night off.
On a healthier note, maybe your reward for all that hard work could be a deep tissue massage to ease sore muscles?
Keep perspective on your loss. There may be a podium, but that doesn’t mean you’re competing in the Olympics. Win or lose, you’re not going to end up on a Wheaties cereal box. There’s no money to be had, and you’re not going to get an endorsement deal. Your loss won’t affect your job or your salary. It simply doesn’t matter that much when you think honestly about it. Remind yourself that there are more serious losses than this—for instance, losing a competition is nothing compared to losing a loved one. If you remind yourself of the big things, it will help you keep the small ones in proper perspective.
Remember that no one will look at you differently. Your family doesn’t understand what Jiu Jitsu is all about anyway. So, they’re not going to give your competition results a second thought. If they do, they’ll just make a joke as they wave their “karate hands” in the air and yell “Hi-Yah!”
Your spouse will still love you. Your kids will think you are embarrassing and dorky, but they thought that you were embarrassing and dorky before you competed, so nothing will have changed.
Truly, the only person who will look at you differently is you. And you can make the decision about how you now look at yourself. You can browbeat yourself for your failure, or you can keep things in a proper perspective. All of this advice is intended to help you handle your tournament loss with a sense of psychological balance. The first step in dealing with defeat is handle it with a positive psychology.
Only after you’ve come to accept the fact that your loss hasn’t made an indelible mark on your identity should you begin to honestly assess the experience. This is the time to ask yourself honest questions. Did you have an attack of nerves that made your head go blank? Did your preparation lack? Did you start off well but tired too soon? Do your escapes need more work? Did your opponent simply overpower you or was his technique better? And what can you do about it?
These questions can be constructive and can lead you to significant improvements in your game. But it’s important not to bludgeon yourself with these questions right away when your loss still stings. After that sting fades, though, they can point you in the direction that your training needs to go.
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