Tag Archives: competition

The Agony of Defeat

Don’t Fight The Caveman

When I was a kid there was a TV show called, “Wide World of Sports.”

One of the taglines was that it showed the “thrill of victory” and the “agony of defeat.”

When they showed the “agony of defeat” part, they showed some guy coming down a ski jump ramp and crashing horribly just as he got to the take off point.

Sports have been around for a long, long time.

All cultures from all times have some kind of sports in their ancient history.

Some suspect that as humans slowly made the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers, they still had that “competitive spirit.”

To be sure, on the battlefield or on the playing field, winning is awesome, and losing sucks.

But that’s where it ends.

Or, rather, that’s where it SHOULD end.

The trouble with our instincts, especially the ones for competition, is we can really just “shut them off.”

This is easy to understand with something like hunger.

Feeling hungry sucks. Eating feels good. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to simply “not eat” when you’re hungry AND there’s plenty of food around.

This is kind of how it feels when you get into an argument over something really tiny, but you simply CAN NOT just let it go.

You HAVE to win at all costs.

That’s that ancient instinct rearing it’s ugly head.

We’ve got a lot of them.

We tend to follow authority figures, even when they’re clearly idiots.

We tend to follow the crowd, even when they’re running right off a cliff.

We tend to eat WAY more calories than we need, even though we keep buying bigger pants.

Caveman 1, Human 0 !

Of course, if you try and “battle” your instincts with sheer willpower, you’ll lose most of the time.

This is precisely why diets fail. You’re trying to battle your ancient drive to eat, which resides in your VERY POWERFUL reptilian cortex, with your conscious mind.

However, instead of CONTROLLING your instincts, consider learning to manage them.

Like not going shopping when you’re hungry.

Or being able to step back and see the “big picture” when you find yourself in a heated argument over which culture invented the bacon cheeseburger.

One thing that can help is having a CLEAR set of goals.

This makes it easy to step back and see if what you’re doing is to satisfy your inner caveman, or your rational human.

Rational humans choose and pursue goals, while cavemen and cavewomen follow their instincts.

There are a lot of ways to overcome those instincts.

Daily journaling can help.

Meditation can help.

Doing visualizations can help.

These can also help:

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