​When I do not fear losing, do I win?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Have you not heard it said “He doesn’t even like losing his marbles”?

I believe that this dislike occurs to everyone. And if I do not mind, it is actually that the matter is of absolutely no interest to me, not because I do not want to win.

I remember how tense I get when I watch a game where you have to give instant answers. And how satisfied I am when I feel that I have guessed right even if it is only one question!

This thing about not wanting to lose has its physical associations: the forehead becomes tense, so does the stomach and the legs, I hold my breath or sigh, and if you lose you also feel disappointment throughout your body.

Our biology encourages us to win, to seek a reward. This does not need to be material or social. Often we play among friends without gambling for money and, even like this, we really enjoy winning and we feel agony when we lose.

In life, I often find myself going over some every day or professional activity in terms of winning or losing. I am referring to times when we put forward an idea or an opinion, or we try to prove we are right in some other situation. This automatically spurs on our impulse to want to win.

If I win, it is always better for me. This impulse I feel is associated with our very survival, and not just our material, but also our most basic psychological survival.

I feel that it is also motivated by a search for security, which impels me not to feel vulnerable, to believe that I am in control, and understand, what is going on. This desire to win out, sometimes makes us twist arguments, tell little lies or deceive ourselves. To be honest, all of this makes our life a lot more complicated, for ourselves and our relationships. I have discovered that you also have the opportunity, if you want, to be aware, of this impulse and your associated behaviour. And when we observe it at the very moment that we are doing it, right away, we can choose to let it go, to renounce this primitive instinct with kindness, and this way we will instantly feel calmer and more relaxed and will no longer see the other person as a rival that we must beat.. I do not have to win anything. When I am in some kind of conversation, if I do not feel driven to make my opinion prevail, then I can listen, I can ask questions and I can try to understand the arguments and reasons of the other people with genuine respect. For myself and for others. And do you know what happens to me in such situations? That I have learnt that I can enrich my perspective (which is always limited, by definition) that I can take a different view of things and that I can reach agreements more easily. When I do not go in there wanting to win, I always win! I offer you this trick. Practise it with a sense of humour until you get it to work.