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Feeling Defeated? 15 Things to Help You Overcome Defeat

Rachel Sharpe

Feeling defeated? It’s normal to feel defeated when we lose something we went after hard. Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons in the most dramatic way possible. And unfortunately, that means sometimes you’re just going to fall flat on your face. Serious epic failures. By shifting your mindset to overcome feeling defeated and to celebrate what you’ve learned so far, you can take steps to become victorious. In this article, we’ll help you understand why you’re feeling defeated and share actionable strategies to help you overcome defeat. 

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What is feeling defeated?

Feeling defeated is when you have been beaten in something. Feeling defeated could be metaphorical, such as feeling defeated mentally or being mentally drained. It could also be literal, such as losing first place in a competition, getting rejected by every company you apply to, or standing up for something and falling short. 

Why am I feeling defeated?

1. You’re overwhelmed

It’s normal to feel defeated when you’re overwhelmed by something. A feeling of defeat is a highly emotional experience. If you’re on the edge of burnout from training, studying, or working hard, it’s normal to feel like you’re at the end of the rope. We’ll discuss this a little more throughout the article, but ultimately, you might need to take breaks, smaller steps, or make a tiny pivot to help you cope with feeling overwhelmed when defeated. 

2. You didn’t try hard enough

There are two types of people: people who try too hard and people who don’t try at all. But both people are pretty similar. People who try too hard really want to win. And people who don’t try at all don’t want to feel bad if they try too hard and lose. The person who doesn’t try is usually just scared to death. They’re afraid of not winning or succeeding. They’re fearful of falling short. But ultimately, you can’t spend your whole life not working hard enough to achieve nothing. Whether you like it or not, life’s going to happen to you whether you put the effort in or not. At least when you put in some work, the ball is somewhat in your court. 

3. The story isn’t over yet, but you think it is

When we feel defeated, we often think, “this is it, it’s over.” I’m sorry, did I miss the obituary you’re in? You’re still alive and breathing. The story isn’t over until you drop dead. You can rest temporarily to recover as we all need to from time to time. But as long as you’re still breathing, you can still have a chance to live your life to the fullest. You’ve got so much potential, don’t let the setbacks define your story. 

the story isn't over

How to Overcome Feeling Defeated

1. Practice Meditation

When you’re feeling defeated, it’s vital to regain control of your thoughts. Practicing a guided meditation can help you do that. Most people will go down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts when they feel like they have just lost a battle. But you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are powerful. They can make you feel bad or euphoric. Most people, especially people who suffer from thought disorders like depression, should practice meditation to help calm the mind. The reality is most are afraid to be left alone with their minds. But meditation merely brings awareness to your thoughts rather than magnifying them. So don’t be frightened about practicing in your meditation room. It’ll help you overcome feeling defeated. 

how to overcome feeling defeated

2. Practice Gratitude

Creating a gratitude list of all the things you’re grateful for can help you when you’re feeling defeated. It’s important to remember that one setback or defeat doesn’t mean you’re hopeless or a lost cause. You still have so much good in you. You have so much going on in your life; it’s normal to feel discouraged when you’ve met your match. Gratitude helps bring things back into a more realistic perspective. It reminds you that no matter what goes wrong in your life, you still have a core of good things too. Whether you write in a gratitude journal using journal prompts or practicing a loving-kindness meditation focused on gratitude each day, it’s crucial to reflect on things you’re grateful for when you feel defeated. 

3. Reframe Your Thinking 

Your inner critic can set you back when you feel defeated. It’s more likely to create a negative vortex that you get sucked into rather than a positive outlet for you to grow into. That’s why it’s so key to reframe your thinking when you’re beginning to feel defeated. For example, if you’re thinking, “I just failed my exam. I’m so stupid at math, I’m never going to get this,” you could reframe it into, “I just failed my exam. I still have a lot to learn in math. Fortunately, the whole point of doing homework is to learn so I can still get better. Maybe I could get a tutor to help me better grasp these concepts.”

4. Hire a Coach

When you’re feeling defeated, it might be time to invest in a coach– or a better coach. We often feel defeated when we fail at something. Maybe you’ve been training hard in sports, or you aim to win an award in your area of expertise. Ultimately, hiring a coach can help you level up your skills to continue to get better. It’s important to remember that if you’re new to something, it takes years, sometimes as much as ten years, before you start getting good at it. And that varies based on what you’re actually doing. Experimenting with your skillset will help you grow in new ways. So take risks, explore new opportunities, and find someone who can help improve your overall performance. 

feeling defeated

5. Invest In Hobbies

When you’re feeling defeated, it’s time to invest in hobbies. Investing in hobbies doesn’t mean giving up the area of expertise you’re trying to master. It simply means giving you an outlet to relax, so you don’t obsess over something to the point of burnout. When we feel defeated, we go to one of two extremes: we either give up or obsess. Neither is good. Right now, you just need to chill a bit. Playing an instrument can help focus the mind while being a relaxing activity. You can also learn similar areas to your craft. So if you’re a swimmer, you might start running to strengthen your legs. Or, if you’re a writer, you might learn marketing.

7. Further Your Education

When you’re feeling defeated, consider furthering your education. If you’re struggling to land a job when you’ve just graduated, this doesn’t mean signing up for another degree. However, you might take an online course to learn some additional skills for your field. Or you might do a one-year post-graduate program to learn some more practical skills based on what you took in school. So, if you’ve developed writing skills in your English program, you might do a post-graduate program in public relations where you can put your writing skills to use. Or, if you took a social work program, you might do a one-year addiction counseling program to specialize in a specific area. That way, when you reapply to jobs, your skillset is a bit broader, to land your first role. 

8. Don’t Ruminate

When we have ruminating thoughts, the same thoughts keep repeating in our minds, our feeling of defeat will increase. If we just lost a competition, the thought “I’m not good enough” could easily ruminate in your head. But you are good enough. Don’t let a fear of failure, a setback, or any other obstacle allow you to get lost in a negative train of thought. You’re capable of so much in life. One event doesn’t define you. Don’t beat yourself up; you’re still absolutely wonderful. 

taking action

9. Exercise Your Body

Under extreme stress, our bodies often want to fight or flight. When you feel defeated, you might be amped up with anger, frustration, anxiety, or sadness. It’s so crucial to release these emotions physically. When you feel like fighting someone, punch a punching bag. If you feel rage consuming you, go for a run on a treadmill or outdoors if the weather’s nice. Exercise helps the brain deal with anxiety as there are changes in brain chemistry. Suppose you’re going through a period where your brain feels a bit foggier, anxious, or harder to manage overall. In that case, the solution could be as simple as going for a walk outside or doing a quick thirty-minute workout every day.

10. Accept Failure

When we feel defeated, we need to accept failure. A fear of failure would only hold us back from moving forward. However, when we get that failure is part of learning and growing, it’s easier to manage it instead of feeling defeated. It’s okay to fail. It’s actually a sign that you’re trying to outgrow the position you’re in right now. Your time in the spotlight will come. Don’t worry about the mistakes you’ve made in the past. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. So pat yourself on the back, dust your shoulders off, and get back to trying. Failure is not defeat. It’s simply a sign that there’s still some more work to do. 

11. Plan Out Baby Steps

When you’ve been defeated in a competition or are entirely drained from trying your best for so long, you may realize it’s time to scale back. This doesn’t mean doing less; it simply means you need to take smaller steps. Rather than hoping for a home run out of the park level accomplishment, aim for micro wins. The fascinating thing about baby steps is that you can take more of them to learn more in a smaller time frame. As a result, when you learn a lot of little lessons along the way, you get better at your craft or sport. So take the time to learn skills on a smaller level so you can move quicker long-term. Celebrating the small wins along the way can be highly motivating. And eventually, it leads to that runaway success. 

small steps to overcome feeling defeated

12. Consider A Pivot

Let’s be clear, a pivot and giving up are not the same thing. When feeling defeated, you can change directions using the experience you’ve built upon to level up your skills. The pivot should be a slightly different approach to what you tried historically. For example, if you’re a figure skater, you might try a completely different routine instead of switching to hockey. The pivot should challenge you a little bit more so you can grow in your craft and become better. 

13. Take A Break

Sometimes when we’re feeling defeated, we’re seriously overwhelmed. We might be on the brink of mental collapse, and really what we should do instead of push forward is take some time to rest. That means getting your eight hours of sleep at night, working on your craft a little bit less, and injecting some fun into your life. No one ever accomplished anything big without taking breaks. There are no overnight successes. And the people who succeed usually take time to sleep, have a lunch break, and even reflect on what they’ve done so far. If there’s no time to think, you can’t succeed. So go for a long walk with your significant other and give your brain a break. 

14. Rant to A Friend

If you’re feeling defeated, it might be time to turn to that coveted friend who always gives good advice. Or maybe you don’t need advice, maybe you just need someone who will listen to you complain, objection-free for thirty minutes straight. That’s okay too. Getting things off your chest is crucial to helping you overcome defeat. Sometimes, you just need someone to look at you in the eyes and say, “You can’t quit now. Look at how far you’ve come. You’re literally my most successful friend. Who am I supposed to brag about if it’s not you?”

rant to a friend

15. Avoid catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is when you make all-or-nothing statements about an event. For example, “This is the worst thing that could have ever happened to me,” when it is not, in fact, the worst thing that could’ve happened to you. Defeat, failure, pain, suffering, terminal illness diagnoses, these are all things that happen to everyone. Not just you. Try to remember for a moment that no one escapes life scot-free. You’re going to have rockiness in your life at various times throughout your life. It happens to everyone. So don’t beat yourself up with defeat. Understand that this is the human experience. 


If you’re still feeling defeated, just know it’s still going to take some time to come to terms with your experience. Practicing meditation will help you silence your inner critic while ranting to a friend will help release the stress and give you an excellent sounding board. Take some time to rest, exercise, and heal from this moment of suffering. You’ve got a lot of life in you still, don’t waste a moment doubting that. The story isn’t over yet. Grieve this moment but remember this is just a temporary setback. You can overcome this and any other obstacle you face. 

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