When all is Lost… How to Bounce Back from Defeat

George S. Patton

Success is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom.


Do You Bounce or Splat?

Have you ever fought incredibly hard to achieve a goal? It seemed as though you were doing all the right things, and in fact you made a lot of progress. Things were looking good and moving forward as planned. However, suddenly out of the blue, something happened that absolutely derailed all your efforts. All that work and effort quickly turned into absolute disaster.

Defeat and failure never feel good, but they are an important part of life. Defeat can actually become quite a valuable experience. However, it all of course depends on how we interpret and then utilize that experience to help us move forward in a better way.

This is of course problematic for most people who struggle to see the value in defeat. They get so overwhelmed with things not working out as expected, that it just crushes them emotionally. During moments such as this it’s important to remind ourselves that defeat does not have to be the end. In fact, many times, it can turn into a beginning of a new journey.

Many successful people have been defeated time and again, however they did not choose to give up. They chose instead to stand tall and keep moving forward. They took it upon themselves to bounce back from defeat and get themselves back on track toward achieving their goals. They chose not to allow defeat to defeat them. They rose against their challenges and tried even harder to get themselves back on track.

But how exactly did they do this? How exactly did they bounce back from defeat and achieve their goals?


What’s Required to Bounce Back from Defeat?

Those who bounce back from defeat are resilient and resourceful individuals who are willing to learn from their mistakes and failures. However, in order to learn, you must have a desire to want to know what went wrong in the first place. This is where curiosity is of tremendous value.

Those who bounce back from defeat are extremely curious about what exactly happened, and how they can potentially move things along in a better way. Curiosity essentially drives them forward to think of new ideas and solutions that help them prepare and plan the next steps along their journey.

Those who bounce back from defeat are courageous and open to taking risks that help drive them forward. To take risks of course means consistently stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Courage is however needed not only to take risks, but to also persist despite the difficulties that may arise. It’s needed to face new challenges and to learn new skills that are needed to help you achieve your goals and objectives.

To bounce back from defeat means fully embracing your predicament without making excuses, without blaming others, without complaining and without any resistance. It means fully accepting how things are, then making the most of your situation without allowing difficult emotions to overwhelm you.

Bouncing back from defeat does however take some faith. It requires having the necessary self-confidence and self-belief in yourself and in your own ability to get through the toughest of times. It requires faith to know and understand that if you keep persisting through your difficulties that you will eventually achieve your goal.

Above all else, to bounce back from defeat requires a sense of humor. When you take things too seriously, it’s just easy to get overwhelmed by all the difficulties you encounter. A sense of humor allows you to put things into perspective. It helps you view your life and circumstances in more optimal and helpful ways. This gives you better clarity-of-mind, which makes adversity easier to deal with.

How to Bounce Back from Defeat


Important Reminders for Bouncing Back from Defeat

When facing defeat it’s important to remind yourself that life’s setbacks are only temporary and very much have a cyclical nature. Yes, things might seem unfair. You might feel as though you don’t deserve this, but things are the way they are. The best thing you can do is to just accept your predicament and make the most of your circumstances.

Have you ever heard anyone say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? This is true, but only if you use these circumstances as an opportunity to grow and improve yourself.

You are of course not alone in your struggles. Many people right now are also struggling and trying to recover from a defeat. In fact, a great many other people have faced challenges and setbacks that are significantly worse than what you’re facing right now. They however didn’t allow defeat to hold them back. They dug deep and applied themselves to work even harder and with more urgency than ever before. As a result they bounced back from the jaws of defeat and ended up achieving their goals.

You will find inspirational stories and accounts of people overcoming tremendous odds within books and movies. Use their life stories to help you find the strength you need to bounce back from defeat.

When facing difficulties it can also be helpful to remind yourself of three very important things:

  • Your goals and life’s purpose.
  • Your past triumphs
  • Your role models

Reminding yourself of your goals and life’s purpose will help you to refocus on what matters most in your life right now. Whatever happened, happened. There’s nothing you can do about it now. The only option you have is to simply start moving forward once again. Pick yourself up from the jaws of defeat and refocus all your energies on moving toward your goals.

If however you’re struggling a little with your self-confidence, then it can be helpful to remind yourself about your past triumphs and the moments in your life where you overcame adversity. Ask yourself:

What difficulties have I previously overcome?

How exactly did I succeed in overcoming these difficulties?

What did I do specifically?

How did I think at the time?

What questions did I ask myself?

What lessons did I learn from these experiences?

How can I use these lessons and apply them to my current predicament?

Reflecting on the lessons of the past can very well help you gather key learning experiences and insights that you can apply to your current situation. If nothing more, you can use your past as a source of inspiration that proves that you have faced tough obstacles before and managed to successfully overcome them.

If however, you don’t quite have the necessary past experience to carry you forward in this situation, then this is where it’s helpful to turn to your role models for inspiration. Have a think about the role models in your life and ask yourself:

Who are my role models?

Why do I admire and respect these people?

How have they previously bounced back from defeat?

How did they handle themselves in those situation?

What can I learn from their experiences that I could apply to my situation?

What valuable advice would they give me that could help me successfully bounce back from defeat?

If your role models are people you personally know, then reach out to them. Buy them a cup of coffee and talk to them about your experiences. Pick their brain and learn everything you can from how they live their life and overcame adversity. Then take those lessons and apply them to your situation.

All you essentially need is a little perspective and a ray of hope. That is what will carry you forward.

Inspiration for Bouncing Back from Defeat


Bouncing Back from Defeat in 3 Steps

Whenever you’re facing a challenging situation where everything appears to be lost and you kind of feel defeated, use the following three steps to help you get back on track.

Step 1: Accept Personal Responsibility

The first and most important step is to accept full responsibility for your predicament. Whether you’re at fault for what happened or not, it’s your responsibility to fix things and get yourself back on track.

To take responsibility also means stepping back emotionally from the situation. It means seeing your predicament in a detached and objective way without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about how things are or how they ought to be. It also means not making a mountain out of a mole hill.

What happened, has happened. See the situation how it truly is. Don’t blow things unnecessarily out of proportion. By doing so you only make the situation far more difficult to deal with. Just accept responsibility for how things have turned out, and put yourself into an optimal state-of-mind to start getting your life back on track.

Step 2: Start Taking Control

Having accepted responsibility for your predicament, it’s time to start taking control of the situation. Now of course the predicament you find yourself in is nothing more but a problem that you must now deal with. Yes, you might call it a defeat or failure, but it’s really nothing more but a plain old problem that requires a solution. That’s it.

In order to solve a problem you need to understand what part of this problem you actually control. With that in mind, ask yourself the following questions:

What part of this problem can I actually control?

What parts could I potentially influence?

Who could help me gain control or influence over this problem?

Where your control lies, that is where you can start working on solving your problem. However, in order to begin this process, you need to know a little more about the problem you are dealing with. Specifically, you need to better understand the nature of your problem, how you could minimize it’s impact, and the ideal outcome you would like to realize. With that in mind, ask yourself the following set of questions:

Was this problem inevitable? Why? Why not?

Was I the cause of this problem? Why? Why not?

What could have contributed to this problem?

How could I potentially contain this problem from getting any worse?

How could I minimize its adverse effects?

What’s the ideal outcome I would like to realize in this situation?

How would I essentially like to bounce back from defeat?

What kind of solutions to this problem come to mind?

What sequence of steps could help me get to my desired outcome?

Your objective with these set of questions is to quickly stop your downward spiral. Things obviously might seem pretty bad right now, and you certainly don’t want them to get any worse. This is where it’s helpful to identify the origins of the problem and how you potentially contributed to it; then to quickly contain it. Once you have it contained, that is when you can get yourself back on track moving toward your desired outcome.

You will notice here that you’re not actually looking for solutions to this problem. Not yet at least. What you want is to lay the path forward. You want to build momentum that can carry you forward in a brand new direction. The solution to the problem will come once you start moving forward. You just need to take the next steps.

Step 3: Take Decisive Action

Having mentally steadied yourself, it’s time now to take decisive action to make things better and start turning your life around. Consider for a moment:

What’s the one thing I could do right now that could help me move forward?

What’s the highest value and highest impact activity that would make the biggest difference to help me bounce back from this situation?

It’s very important right now that you don’t delay. Figure out your most important “next action step” and start the ball rolling. The key for you is to begin building momentum in a brand new direction.

Yes, you might still have a problem on your hands that doesn’t yet have a solution. At this stage though, solutions don’t matter. Momentum is what counts. You need to build that momentum moving in a brand new direction.

Once you have that momentum, you will have better clarity of mind, and solutions will eventually come. You will figure things out as you go. Your momentum will carry you there.

A Process for Bouncing Back from Defeat


Guidelines for Bouncing Back from Defeat

Bouncing back from defeat ain’t easy. It’s mentally tough and physically taxing on the body. It can also take a toll on our emotions and even hurt our relationships. If we handle it incorrectly, then there will be consequences to deal with. With this in mind, here are several guidelines to help you handle adversity in more optimal and helpful ways.

Gain Proper Perspective of the Situation

Handling adversity is all about perspective. If you adopt an unhelpful perspective of the situation, you will struggle to get through your difficulties. On the other hand, if you view your predicament in a helpful way, this can open doors to new understandings, opportunities and possibilities.

Whenever facing adversity, ask yourself:

How else could I view this situation?

What’s something of value I could take away from this experience?

What opportunities does this situation now bring to light?

If you’re however struggling to view the situation in a helpful way, then seek other people’s perspectives and viewpoints. They may very well see the situation very differently than you do. Just maybe their feedback and impressions of your predicament might help you see your circumstances in a more favorable light. And just maybe, that’s all you need to start turning your life around.

Gain Needed Clarity About Your Predicament

When something bad happens, it’s easy to get lost in the moment and get completely overwhelmed by the experience. This is of course the wrong way to go about things. Within this miserable state you will never truly see the situation for what it is. What you need is separation.

Actually step back from your problem. See it objective and assess your expectations of the situation. Maybe your expectations were unrealistic. Just maybe you need to set some more realistic expectations and give this another shot.

Take a moment to really be mindful of the moment. Assess what just happened, observe your thoughts and emotions, and figure out your best course of action moving forward. A rational approach in such instances always works best.

Re-Prioritize Your Life

When adversity strikes, it’s important to get very clear about your priorities. Your life has after all suddenly taken a turn in an unexpected direction. In order to get things back on track you may very well need to re-prioritize a few things.

Continuing down the same path with the same priorities, commitments, goals and responsibilities, probably won’t get you out of this mess. You may very well need to make some very difficult sacrifices and choices. You might even need to let go of things that you’re not comfortable letting go of. But sometimes we have to do certain things that we don’t like in the short-term in order to achieve our long-term goals and objectives. What are those things for you?

Guidelines for Bouncing Back from Defeat

Set Very Clear Boundaries

As difficult as adversity is to deal with, it’s important that you don’t allow it to affect other important areas of your life such as your family, career, health and relationships. Likewise, don’t put the rest of your life on hold just because something didn’t work out in one area of your life.

Choose instead to isolate that one area of your life and then set clear boundaries to ensure that it doesn’t impact other aspects of your life in a negative way.

Make Health a Top Priority

When dealing with adversity, one of the very first things that slide is our health. For most people, health just doesn’t seem to matter when we are trying to cope with the difficulties of life. However, your health should matter because it is the source of your energy and vitality that will help drive you forward through this difficult period of your life.

With this in mind, take special care of your health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, get enough sleep, rest and recuperation. And above all else, don’t indulge in addictions as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions. Instead use exercise as a means for relieving stress.

Connect with Positive People

When the chips are down and things just couldn’t get any worse, that’s when it’s time to connect with other people for that needed emotional support. However, don’t connect with people who will sympathize with your plight and help you complain about your problems. Connect instead with people who will inspire and challenge you to raise your game and move your life forward in a more optimal way.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Bouncing Back from Defeat

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam's story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.