The power of embracing pain

The power of embracing pain

In this article I want to share my thoughts on poker losses, the pain associated with them, and why it is key to embrace them.

In 2021, like in all other years, there will be losses and downswings.

I can’t say this enough: losing is a natural and inevitable part of being a poker player. You won’t be able to become a successful player if you don’t come to terms with this fact.

Losing is painful, I know. We all have a natural urge to protect ourselves from pain and challenging situations.

In 2021, I want you to adopt a different approach to losses and pain: welcome them and embrace them.

We all want to grow and improve as poker players, but the price of growth is pain. Remember that the pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is tremendous opportunity for growth.

When we protect ourselves of the challenges that help us grow as poker players(example: fear of failing the next higher stake shot), we also deprive ourselves of the chance to know what we are made of, to learn to cope with poker’s difficulties, to develop our grit.

In other words: we stagnate.

The only thing more painful than overcoming your challenges is the pain of being in the same place after years of playing, just because your fear of failure and losing.

So, as many of us look to the New Year for better poker performance and results, we can do a number of important things. The first of which is, of course, make sure you are playing with a proven winning strategy that yields consistent results. More importantly, we must learn to face the discomfort and pain associated with poker losses.

Learn to lose!

Here’s the thing: losses are not a problem. To look at them as problems is to take a wrong step. They’re part of poker. Every player goes through them. There’s no escaping from them.

People with very low risk tolerance, who cannot accept losing sessions, are not cut out to be great poker players. It’s true, the act of taking a loss is painful, but you have to be able to handle getting your butt kicked.

Players are very bad at taking losses. They take it as a blow to their ego when, in fact, they should view it as a learning experience. Do not allow yourself to become resentful! Genuine acceptance that there will be losses and downswings on your way to poker success, will greatly decrease the pain when they eventually come.

Understand, that poker is not about those big fat winning sessions. It’s about the hundreds and thousands of inevitable losing ones that you have to deal with, at the same time keeping faith and confidence in your strategy.

Photo: PartyPoker

If winning sessions give you a buzz and losing ones make you depressed, you are pursuing poker with a gambler’s mentality. Your family members should not be able to tell whether you had a losing or a winning day. The biggest disservice you can do to your loved ones is taking them on the emotional highs and lows of poker.

In conclusion, I’m not telling you to jump for joy the next time you experience a loss or a downswing, I’m just saying that if you believe and understand that pain is just here to help you grow, then you can actually find a lot more wisdom, strength, gratitude and perspective in these tough moments of vulnerability.

I want to finish the article with this legendary quote from one of the Rocky movies:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Silvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

The question is: Will you get up again? You have to accept it when you lose a tournament or a session. You only lost one! How many more tournaments or poker sessions are you going to play in your life? You get better with every game, increase your skills and abilities and grow beyond yourself. It’s that simple.

Click here and check out this article with a few tips that, if you apply them, will help you to develop your resilience, to deal with losses and downswings, and to bounce back more quickly.

Note: Do you need a quick poker mindset boost? Click here to get my eBook called 25 Poker Mindset Tips Every Player Should Know.