The Power of Simplification: Why You Have to Lose Before You Can Win

Lose what isn’t working so you can make room for what will

Start to see the difference between what you want in your cup and what’s actually in your cup. Danielle Macinnes/Unsplash

Why do we always think that losing something is a bad thing? Why do we assume there’s something wrong with us when we lose that relationship or that job or that friendship? Why do we default to feeling like the victim? Believe it or not, nothing could be further from the truth.  

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Losing doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. It means you’ve held on for too long.

This distinction begins with understanding this basic premise: In life, you can only hold onto something that isn’t working for you for so long before it’s taken away. That’s the way life works. The universe may not always seem fair, but it is always a harbinger of justice.

You are never being punished when a person or a situation leaves your hands, regardless of how it was presented to you. In life, you can’t lose what’s real for you. So, if you lose something, it was either not quite right for you (and you didn’t figure that out quickly enough) or the timing wasn’t right for it to fully manifest (so it needs to go back into the oven for a bit longer). Either way, it’s being taken off the table so that you have the space to create something better suited for you.

You have to lose what isn’t working in order to make room for what will.

In life, you only get a finite amount of “space” available for everything, and everything you’ll ever need gets put into your “cup.” Here’s how I explain it to my clients:

The universe is a big water pitcher, and from time to time it offers you fresh water (something new) in each area of your life. As a human, you get one cup to collect and cultivate each area of your life: a relationship cup, a career cup, a home cup, etc. Ask yourself: What do you have in your cup? Is it serving you? Is it fresh water that’s energizing you? Or is it dirty, bacteria-infested water that has been stagnant over the last couple of years and from which you can no longer drink? Is what’s in your cup going to replenish you or will it make you sick? Ask yourself: Are you dying of thirst?

If you want to drink water that replenishes you, you have to throw out the dirty water first.

If your cup is full of toxic water, you don’t have room to fill it up with what you need to drink. It’s a very simple principle, but most of us have difficulty applying it to our lives. If your cup is full with what you cannot drink, you are basically telling the universe that you are okay with what’s in your cup and that you aren’t in need of a fresh top-up. You are basically saying, “Thank you, but no thank you. I am not ready to dump out this cup. I know it’s toxic, no longer contributing to my growth, and has been making me unhappy for awhile now, but I know it so well and I’m not sure how I could exist without it, so I’ll keep it. I know it doesn’t quench my thirst, and I’m desperate for something I can drink, but this is what I choose.”

You don’t always get what you want; you get what you choose—and they are not always the same thing.

We want one thing, yet choose something else, and then try to make what we’ve chosen be what we want. It doesn’t work that way. We only end up with a cup of dirty water. The irony in all of this is that you can only hold onto something that isn’t serving you for so long before the universe will take it away from you anyway.

Loss isn’t a bad thing. It’s a recognition that what you’ve got in your cup isn’t right for you.

If it’s not right, why do you want to hold onto it? Why do you want to pretend that it’s something else? Why not learn to let it go before it gets taken from you? If you can learn to let go of that torturous relationship or that demeaning job, then you’ll be empowered to create something better, not left feeling victimized and defeated.

Here are three tips to help you dump out your dirty water:

  1. Practice visualizing your perfect cup. You may not be able to dump out your cup, but if you spend 10 minutes every day visualizing what you really want in your cup, that will help you to set a clear intention for what you want to manifest. Soon, you will start to see the divide between what you want in your cup and what’s actually in your cup. It’s an eye-opening experience. This process will empower you to let go of what isn’t working for you so that you can reach for your dream.
  1. Trust in the process of your life. Trust that you cannot lose what is real for you. If what’s in your cup isn’t feeling good, trust that you can be strong and take a chance on throwing it out. If it is real for you, it will either not allow itself to be thrown out or it will return to you once it’s healed and ready for you. If it is not real for you, it will allow itself to be tossed out. The good news is that you don’t have to be the one who makes that decision. You only have to be the one who isn’t preventing it.
  1. Recognize that you have to lose to win. Realize that you have to lose what isn’t working to win what will. In terms of a relationship, practice the understanding that if you lose what isn’t working, you will either win a better version of the relationship once that partner heals or you will get a better partner. Either way, you will always win by losing what isn’t working for you.

Space is everything. You only get one cup in every area of your life. Ask yourself, what do you have stuffed in that cup? If you can no longer drink from it, you’ll only win by dumping it out. If you’re not ready to fully dump it out, why not just tip some of it out? Create a tiny bit of space in your cup for something new to come in. This tells the universe, “I know I need change. It’s baby steps to happiness, one step at a time, and I will let it all go.” Before you know it, your cup will be filled with something that sustains and enlivens you.

Based in New York City, Donnalynn is the Author of “Life Lessons, Everything You Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten.” She is also a Certified Intuitive Life Coach, Inspirational Blogger (, Writer and Speaker. Her work has been featured in Glamour Magazine, the iHeart Radio Network and Princeton Television. Her website is You can follower her on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn,  Facebook and Google+.

The Power of Simplification: Why You Have to Lose Before You Can Win