Learning to Lose
Written by TJ O’Brien

“Man, last week TJ pretty much made Jiu Jitsu his whole personality, but I haven’t heard him talk about it at all recently.” – You

I already told you a little bit about an injured finger and a knee, the former is about 2 weeks from fully healed, knee has been built back to 110%

But 12 days ago I really hurt my neck! I was stuck in a guillotine choke and I just didn’t want to give it up. Right after I tapped, I felt my whole neck lock up. I had to lay down on my back for a second. It kinda scared me – I’ve never had my body “reject and protect” something like that before.

The lock-up persisted until a chiro appointment gave me some relief. Another gave me a bit more. Next I went to see my trusted PT. He did the exact work that I wish I could have done on myself. Ever have a PT or massage session like that?

So I got a bit more relief, I’m at maybe 80% at this point. The following day, I tried out one of the corrective exercises that the PT gave me. The day after that I woke up and could turn my head the OTHER direction. (See my “dose” blog; I took way too much medicine and it became poison!)

You ever feel like a million bucks one day (“I could take on ANYONE in this gym right now, let’s GO!”) to below zero the next day (“Please don’t touch me or look at me wrong, I might break”)? That was me.

Back at the start of this whole ordeal, I knew I had been pushing myself pretty hard. I increased the number of times per week I went to the BJJ gym, I stayed afterwards, and did extra work. But I could tell it was wearing on me. The day of my injury I told myself I should show up early and get really warm because I was feeling really tight and tired. Go figure, maybe I should have listened to my body and taken a rest day?

Yeah, that, and also, I should have LEARNED TO LOSE. We all think of ourselves as the exception, myself included (“He’s got me pretty deep in this choke, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to escape where no one else would.”)

Or more relevant to you, “I know I haven’t practiced muscle ups, pull-ups, or [insert relevant skill here] in a while, but I’ll probably figure it out on the fly.” **Repeatedly fails gymnastic skills attempts.**

Or, “I know I hit 300# one time like 6 months ago, eff it! let’s load the bar and let’s give #315 a shot!” **Fails PR attempt.**

Or maybe, “I’m pretty sure I can finish in the time cap with the RX weight” **Takes 5 minutes more than the cap.**

Learning to lose means taking a step backward so that you can take a step forward with confidence. Let me tell you, it does NOT feel good on the old ego! But let’s be honest, true progress is rarely puppies and rainbows.

Learning to lose might hurt your confidence, but it will do wonders for your actual progress. After the hurt fades, a loss makes you curious. You’ll start to ask yourself, “What did I do wrong? How can I prevent that from happening again?” And you can bet that as soon as I could, I looked up a bunch of YouTube videos on how to escape that choke.

If you only “win” in the gym, you’ll certainly feel good about yourself, but you’ll know deep down that you’re hiding from true progress. If you only pick opponents you can crush, you don’t get better.

Do you ever find yourself “hiding from losing” like this? Where does it happen—a particular movement or style of workout? Let’s talk about it, I’ve got a bucket-full of my own personal examples, but I’m curious if this resonates with you.

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Lee Soliz
Lee Soliz
June 8, 2023 7:44 am

As a psychology student researching the topic of losing, I know that failure is a valuable learning experience rather than a personal defeat. The author’s exploration of psychological resilience and growth mindset provides valuable insights for my coursework that I am going to get done by expert from https://studyclerk.com/complete-coursework resource. It is highlighting the significance of reframing losses as opportunities for personal development and self-improvement.

Last edited 11 months ago by Lee Soliz
Mary Burt
Mary Burt
December 21, 2022 4:00 am


Candy Olkey
Candy Olkey
April 26, 2022 2:09 pm

GREAT READ TJ!! It has taken me 8 yrs of Invictus Crossfit to realize that losing is more often the actual WIN! My biggest “hide from losing” is running!! I could run forever, but I’m really really slow…and let’s be real, who really wants to practice running? I’m in NY so we really only have 6-7 months of outside running. The other 3-4 months I use my TM. I can admit that I have had those days when I absolutely could have run outside, but running on the TM would make my metcon time “appear” much faster. When in reality,… Read more »

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