It is hard for me to lose at games, or arguments. When I do there is a part of me that wants to get back and try again until I figure out a way to win, or to present myself in such a way as to do better. I also have to consciously find strength and a stillness that lets me realize that I need to pay attention to the other person and their strength, value and the importance of their moment of victory or the point that they are making. Sometimes this struggle causes me to not want to compete at all, unless I am rather certain that I can win. There are times when I find myself in such situations unexpectedly or because of circumstances and I find myself responding quickly with an overwhelming offensive reaction so as to knock out any sense of conflict at all. There is a growth and maturity that comes from a healthy acceptance of competition and of the value of those who challenge us.
Recently I found myself discovering a new twist to this dimension of my life and the challenge to grow and mature with regards to this area of my life. While joking with my wife she began an attempt to tickle me. As one who is very ticklish, I quickly responded by grabbing her hands and not letting go of her, so that she could not tickle me. There was not even going to be the chance of such an experience. It was all simple a fun and games time, yet I suddenly had a reaction stronger than the playfulness and was in a reactionary defensive mode. She had absolutely no desire to hurt me, simply responding with a playful give and take. I was suddenly aware of my need to be able to give but not receive.
If I cannot lose graciously, then I cannot win graciously. If I cannot receive than I cannot give. If I have to always be in control, than perhaps I really have no control at all. The walls of my defensiveness rejected any possibility of vulnerability. And once I shut down an openness to being vulnerable I stop the journey to a deeper intimacy.
I still do not like to be tickled, I still do not like to lose. But allowing for a moments laughter and someone’s power over me, or someone’s better ability or luck in a game opens me up to even being in a game or relationship with someone else.