How to cope with loss and disappointment when it doesn’t come home

how to deal with loss and disappointment after loss in sport

The aftermath of a loss can be tough to deal with (Picture: Getty)

When you are winning, you feel on top of the world.

When you are losing, it feels like the world is caving in.

These two opposing feelings are part of life. With the incredible highs come unimaginable lows.

And over the past month, the English team and supporters have experienced both.

Winning feels good. Once a streak starts, it’s hard to imagine feeling any different.

However, the events of yesterday show you can’t trust the notion fully. Like most things in life, it comes and goes, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

It’s tough and exhausting and emotional. Meanwhile, it isn’t unique to sports, because it plays a role in life, work and relationships.

In each fragment, the reverberations are powerful and the feelings it stirs up can be difficult to comprehend.

So why is losing so difficult to deal with?

Senior therapist Sally Baker says that when we desire something badly, the connection is powerful, as was the case for last night’s game.

‘Dealing with losing in sport is hard because people invest so much of their personal identity in how their team fare,’ she tells Metro.co.uk

‘A club loss or their country’s loss doesn’t feel like an abstract game. It creates a tribal sense of belonging. This feeling of belonging that sport or even workplace camaraderie can provide is as powerful as loyalty to family for some people.’

Sally also points out that after the pandemic, yesterday’s final offered a source of light, and this intensified the sentiment.

‘The more a person emotionally invests in a sporting tournament, the greater the emotional response to the elation of a win and the deep disappointment of losing,’ she explains.

‘After over a year of Covid restrictions and the personal challenges that arose, the distraction that sport offered was magnified more than ever before.’

She also notes that placing a focus on a certain outcome creates an unhealthy relationship with validation which leads to further disappointment.

‘It connects people with a sense of self-worth that they can otherwise struggle to find within themselves,’ she says.

‘The possibility of feeling victorious is intoxicating especially when someone doesn’t have a great deal to fall back on.’

To combat these intense emotions and ease the negativity, Sally prescribes a logical approach.

‘Feeling emotionally wounded is a natural reaction to disappointment, so allow yourself time to feel appropriate emotional reactions,’ she advises.

‘Build resilience by remembering other occasions when you and others have overcome loss and disappointment. Keep a sense of proportion.

‘Create some feel-good endorphins to lift your mood by walking outside for at least 20 minutes. This is how long it takes for the brain to release these hormones. 

‘And always remember, it’s okay not to feel okay.’

Do you have a story to share?

Send us an email at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk

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