“Women dwell on their disappointments.
…Whereas men dwell on their failures.”
From Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS in the PsychCentral post
Ms. Cousins’ contention is that women don’t get the fact that, “Men are constantly in competition with each other, embroiled in a life-long contest that no man can ever ‘win’ in any permanent way.”
I agree that men have an ever present competition streak activated. I suspect it goes back to our hunter days. Our first competition was our prey. We needed to win if our clan was to survive. Today we aren’t pursuing the deer, we are pursuing the job, the accomplishment, and the status; same hardwiring, different kill. Another aspect that hasn’t changed is our pursuit of women. That competition was always there and will always be there.
Nothing hurts more than for a man to be ‘beaten’ by another man for a woman. Then, if the winner admonishes the other for his loss, he is doubly humiliated. Not only did the loser lose, he also probably revealed his vulnerable parts to attempt to win the woman. His exposure of his vulnerable side makes the pain of failure worse. Being shamed for losing is salt on that emotional wound.
The “stonewalling” Ms. Cousin speaks about that men do to hide our pain is also true. We display not being upset, while the physiology that John Gottman documents of blood pressure soaring and adrenaline pumping occurs on the inside. To show the impact of our loss would make us even more vulnerable. There is an old male code: Don’t admit you lost or the emotional impact of your loss.
Our ‘pride’ or macho attitude gets us into wars. So what are its up sides?
Admitting defeat is to give our enemy an advantage. We are exposing our underside to him. We are admitting to him and the world he won, thereby empowering him and his win. We would rather suffer in silence than admit defeat, show our pain, or ask for help. All of those can give our enemy more power. Being men, we often feel that what is more powerful than the win is the admission of the win.
How to win with defeat
When you can breathe, and leave your lizard (survival) brain long enough to allow yourself to feel the pain and possible humiliation you can move on from your defeat. When you don’t admit defeat, first to yourself, (or at least allow a natural display of pain) you lock it into your body and psyche. Your ego might feel initially less of a loss, but reinforcing the denial behavior assures the next loss will be more painful.
When you can accept, feel and express the impact of the loss you can release it and move on. The winner won, but he doesn’t have power over you any longer. You are not at the effect of him as you would be if you denied the defeat. There is a part of us, as a loser and certainly as the winner, who wants the game to continue. This is the part women have a difficult time understanding. Why the hell do we keep it up? Because we are waiting for the opportunity to come back as a winner.
It’s not that men are stupid. It’s that we know we are in charge of surviving and our lizard brains are not meant to be smart. They are there for our survival. When our physiology leaves the flight or fight response we can leave the win-lose trap.
Do you find this to be true for you?