Turning Wins Into Losses

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(Originally published on Medium September 12, 2019)

My son is twelve years old, on the cusp of thirteen. He is tall for his age, handsome with dark curly hair and dimples. He has a friendly, easy nature. He is a top student, making the honor roll every single term. He is the captain of his school basketball team and has been voted an All-Star every year that he’s played. He is also a starter on both his travel and AAU basketball teams. He’s popular. Meeting with his teachers feels like meeting with his fan club. He has been selected as a mentor to younger children. He is loved. And he has zero self-esteem.

The monster of self-doubt cropped up a few months ago. I worried about a lot of things heading into the teen years: rebellion, girls, substance abuse. Lack of self-love and low self-worth simply never hit my radar. How could a kid with everything going for him see so little value in himself? If he could see himself through my eyes for one minute he would know how incredible he is.

Something new I’ve noticed in my son this year: he is always turning wins into losses. If he scores 15 points in a game, all he will talk about is the one bad pass he made. If he gets all A’s and A-, you can bet that A- will be the only thing on his mind. We are working, with his pediatrician, on his inner dialogue. Happiness doesn’t always happen on its own. Sometimes happiness is a choice. We have to replace the words we use when we talk about ourselves. We have to be kinder.

I have to be gentler with myself so I can model a healthy mindset for my son. It’s fine to examine what you do wrong in order to correct it but give yourself credit for what you do right. Don’t turn your wins into losses just because your wins are imperfect. Don’t withhold love from yourself just because you’re imperfect. We are meant to be imperfect. When we strive for perfection, we believe we’re losing when really, we’re growing. Allow yourself to take the win

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