Sport and life are filled with loss, setbacks and defeat. You know, things that don’t turn out as expected, despite your best efforts and preparations.
To expect to never meet defeat is unrealistic and somewhat foolish, and this thinking sets you up for even greater disappointment and discouragement. Of course we need to put our primary energies into thoughts of success, but when this doesn’t work out, we can successfully negotiate through defeat.
Defeat hurts! Physically, it can feel like you have been punched in the stomach or kicked in the teeth. Emotionally, it can make you feel frustration, disappointment, anger, loneliness and more. Mentally it can lead to blaming thoughts, doubts, regrets, discouragements and questions about giving up.
However, when we expect and predict these physical, emotional and mental consequences, we maintain a semblance of control. We are neither ambushed, nor taken by surprise. Defeat then does not become all consuming and self -destructive. We can then take these steps to conquer defeat.
1. Expect and tolerate the symptoms of defeat. Know that it is part of the journey toward optimal functioning and success. Do not let it catch you off guard. Know that you remain in control of your self, even in defeat.
2. Open your lens. See the bigger picture. Know this is one moment in time. Look for what you still have, not what you may have lost or not accomplished.
3. Step back from defeat. See it as a 3rd party coming to visit you. Don’t become absorbed, consumed or defined by it. Hold it more at arms length. Don’t allow it to hug you, but keep it at a waving distance (or whatever other gesture you may want to give it)!
4. Meet defeat head on! Have an attitude of “Come in, I am ready for you”. Like a visit from an unwelcomed houseguest, know that this too shall pass and you can tolerate it in the moment.
5. You don’t have to like the physical, emotional and mental symptoms of defeat, but you can maintain control by noticing, accepting and tolerating them.
6. The more you fight defeat, the more you will become defeated! Giving up too much of your energy to defeat will result in being depleted of necessary resources to be able to move forward.
7. Do not fuel defeat. Have zero tolerance for self-blaming, discouraging and hopeless thoughts. They are neither helpful nor wanted. In fact, they will only serve to make a temporary occurrence more of a permanent state of being. Thus allowing the other D word to take hold – depression!
8. Know that you will survive defeat. Maintain hope; confident that you will overcome! Elite Canadian sprinter and Olympian, Ian Warner refers to this notion by saying, “You are still breathing, so you only know temporary defeat”. Therefore defeat will not destroy us or take away our life energy.
9. Ask defeat what lesson it has for you. What can you take away from this experience? What are the gifts it actually has for you? It may be a difficult lesson to learn, but it is a gift nonetheless.
10. Give yourself time to move through defeat, but don’t linger too long or get stuck. Know when it’s time to say goodbye and close the door! Then propel yourself toward the next success, reset your goals and put in place your action steps. And know you have a plan to manage defeat when it pops up again.
So although we imagine and expect our endeavors to be successful; when they are not, we know we can have a plan to tolerate, cope, develop resiliency and move forward. Thus allowing us to successfully overcome defeat, developing important skills along the way!
By Susan Cockle