Feeling Defeated? Coach Yourself Through Tough Times

The essential self-coaching techniques used by high achievers.

Don’t let yourself be bullied by your own negative thoughts. 

Feelings are just feelings so don’t let the negative ones dominate you. Feeling defeated? Believe it or not, we all face tough times—it’s unavoidable.

Feelings are like the wind, they come and they go. That does not mean that they aren’t real and that you don’t feel them and that they don’t affect you. They do. 

Sometimes negative feelings can be good.

They come from your gut, it’s your subconscious telling you to look out for something. It might be a person around you, it might be a decision you have made but some little smoke signal goes up in your brain that tells you, “watch out.”

That’s a good thing, and you should pay attention to it. Sometimes it’s a signal that you need to make some changes. But it’s a totally different thing when your feelings go over the line and start being negative towards you. That can not happen.

Feelings that you’re not good enough, you won’t ever amount to anything special. . . doubts of all kinds about yourself. That’s unacceptable and you have to take charge and squash those feelings down!

For example, you’re trying to lose weight, you’re trying to learn how to play the guitar or the piano, you’ve just started playing tennis, or you’re trying to learn Spanish. If the thoughts coming into your mind are, “this is a waste of time,” “this is going to take too long,” “you’ll never do it,” “this is too hard for you,” then you have to face those feelings and answer them in your mind or they will cause you to quit.

Negative feelings like these are the trojan horses hidden inside our mind that causes us to be defeated before we start. This issue needs to be addressed if you’re going to win and accomplish what you want to accomplish in life! It’s a fact that in every arena of life where people attempt new things, most people – actually, the overwhelming majority stop and quit before they even get started.

Where does that come from? It comes from inside themselves and those negative feelings that this is just going to be beyond your capacity to accomplish. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now if you try something new and you really don’t like it and decide to quit, that’s one thing. But chances are if it’s something you wanted to do, you’ve thought about it enough that it really matters to you. And the truth is very few of us will pursue things that we have no chance of accomplishing to any degree.

For example, when I started playing the guitar and taking lessons in high school, I had no vision of being a concert guitarist or lead guitar player in a rock band because I knew that was not going to happen but I wanted to play the guitar and I did. Unfortunately, it led to another obsession, buying guitars and I wound up owning over 100 guitars before I calmed that particular obsession down because I had no place to put them. 

I was out playing basketball and did it all my life three or more times a week, five on five, full courts, into my forties. But even though I was a high school star, I never thought about playing in college or playing in the pros. Instinctively, I knew that athletically that never was going to happen.

I just don’t think that normal human beings go through life attempting to be President of the United States when they know there’s absolutely no chance of them getting elected to anything. 

I believe if you start something, you probably have the ability to do it and enjoy it to some degree so letting yourself get beat by a flood of your own negative feelings at the beginning is a failure that will hold you back from ever accomplishing anything that you really want to do and are capable of doing. You have to be better than that.

These are doubts that cross all of our minds from time to time. When they show up, they are real and you have to deal with them. This is something that’s going on in your head but they still must be answered so you can move on and get your mind back on making progress in your life. 

So let’s take an honest look at these feelings for a minute. 

Unless it’s a hurricane, how many of us ever consider the wind when we think about going about our daily activities. We might check and see if it’s going to rain or thunderstorm today to decide whether or not we’re going to take an umbrella, but I’ve never heard of anyone who checks the weather report to see if the wind is over 15mph today so maybe I should stay home. If the wind is 15 mph, you’ll probably feel it in your face when you go outside, but so what? 

It’s no big deal, and that’s the attitude you need to learn to have towards feelings.

I don’t feel particularly perky, inspired, or energetic today but so what? I still have to press on with my life. I can’t turn into Debbie Downer, go home, and eat donuts under a blanket because I don’t feel perky today. Life does not work that way, and if you have a job or you have kids, this goes without saying because they certainly don’t care about Debbie having a bad day. 

On the other hand, just like a hurricane, if you have something insanely, devastatingly, huge that’s happening in your life like the death of a loved one, you’re dealing with a whole other level of feelings and that is grief. 

Grief is something that forces you to pay attention to it and deal with it because it can shut you down and all of us have had to face moments like that. These moments can be hours, weeks, months, or sometimes longer but the point is you have to get past it and it’s important for you to accept the fact that you can. 

You may never get over it, but you can get past it. But feelings of defeat are not that severe and should not get the respect from you that grief does or you will never amount to anything. You have to face those and make them go away through activity. 

Doing even small positive things to move forward will put out those little flames of doubt quickly.

Even the most successful people you know can tell you about the incredible challenges they’ve faced if you ever take the time to ask. But winners find a way to win anyway, because how you respond to tough times determines the kind of life you can have. It’s not what happens to you—it’s how you respond to what happens to you.
It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens to you. Click To Tweet

Quitting is Almost Always a Bad Idea

Employee feeling defeated and quitting job.

When times get tough—and they always do—winners don’t impulsively quit. Don’t be surprised if you have some breakdowns before you have major, life changing breakthroughs. It’s a process.

They know quitting is almost always a bad idea, so they rely on their mental toughness and stay in control of their emotions when they start feeling defeated.

Fortunately for me, at 8 years old, my mother came up with an example about quitting that has stuck with me all my life.

She said the problem with quitting was that once you get started, it is hard to stop because it becomes much easier the next time.

It’s like taking a simple wooden block and rolling it over from one side to another. She said that’s like quitting. When you roll it over, the edges start to get dull, and that makes it easier to roll it over the next time.

The more you do it, the easier it gets. So when it comes to quitting, never get started.

I know she had a lot of challenges in her life and this seemed to be a lesson that she had learned early and used to face all those tough challenges as they came along.

This was a pivotal lesson for me. I’ve had many failures in my life because—let’s face it—they are unavoidable. But I’ve never quit. As a result, I’ve always been able to keep moving forward.

Successful People Overcome Obstacles

Female athlete jumping over a hurdle.

It would be easy to assume the most successful people in life simply face fewer obstacles—that they had it easy. You might find this hard to believe, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Before she became a television talk show host, Oprah was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore. (Not to mention the trauma she experienced as a child.) But she didn’t let that ruin her spirit. Soon after, she worked on her first talk show and later went on to host her own talk show that ran for 25 seasons. Now she has a net worth of $2.7 billion.

Best-selling author Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times! At one point in the writing process, he felt so defeated that he threw it in the trash. With some encouragement from his wife, he kept going. And now he’s published 54 novels and sold over 350 million books.

The same thing happened to current, best-selling novelist James Patterson when he got started. He was also rejected over 30 times. Finally, a publisher gave him a chance. His first book not only became a best seller, but he was honored as the best new writer of the year. USA Today tells us his books have sold over 300 million copies, and he is one of the highest paid authors with an estimated income of over $700 million in the last 10 years.

Beethoven started losing his hearing at age 26, but he kept composing. He composed the famous Ninth Symphony when he was almost completely deaf, and it is now one of the most performed symphonies in the world.

Winners don’t win because they face fewer obstacles. They win because they find ways to overcome the obstacles that get in their way. 

Winners Coach Themselves Through Tough Times

Pushing rock up hill.

Winners are typically great at self-motivation. It starts with going after the things they really want. Because they are pursuing something they really want, it’s hard to make them quit. As a result of going after things they really want, they usually put all kinds of extra effort into making it happen that most people would not.

They don’t want to lose all the momentum they’ve built up to that point and waste the weeks, months, years of effort they’ve put in. So when they hit a wall, they are more likely to think, “How can I get past this?” rather than feeling defeated and thinking, “Oh no. I guess it’s too hard. I’m not good enough. I bit off more than I am capable of achieving, so I’ll just give up and quit.”

Their energy and drive causes them to hang on to their positive mindset and allows them to look at each new obstacle as something they can handle.

They also realize this new situation may be something that drives them to learn some exciting new information or options that otherwise they wouldn’t have thought about.

When problems are overwhelming, they seek help from experts or their support system to help get them through. Or, sometimes they have to take the time to learn something new to overcome it.

The end result is that not only do they solve the problem, they pick up new information, contacts, and maybe even skills that they can use over and over again the rest of their lives as they run into other obstacles.

Meeting challenges head-on keeps you fresh, stimulated, and growing.

To win more, learn to coach yourself past the negativity that makes others quit by accepting the challenges that new obstacles present.

Motivation is the root of all success when you are feeling like you are in a slump. According to one of The Business Insider’s authors, Aaron Taube, there are 7 things you can do to make yourself work harder, and help you reach those goals you have set for yourself.

  • Convince yourself you want to do it.
  • Take control.
  • Surround yourself with other people who are working hard.Break up your tasks into smaller tasks.
  • Stay focused.
  • Remember your “why.”
  • Stay positive.
To win more, learn to coach yourself past the negativity that makes others quit by accepting the challenges that new obstacles present. Click To Tweet


6 Answers Winners Use When They are Feeling Defeated

1. I might not be good enough today, but tomorrow I’ll be better.

  • Everybody has days when they feel like they just aren’t good enough to reach a goal or to win a race. And they probably aren’t—right then.
  • But if they keep pushing, what seems hard or impossible today may be easy tomorrow or next week.

2. The people who say I can’t don’t matter.

    • Who gives them permission to decide what I can or cannot do?
    • The ones who say that what you’re attempting can’t be done are simply saying that they don’t know how to do it. Just because they may not be able to do it doesn’t mean that you can’t.
Just because somebody tells you something can’t be done doesn’t mean that it can’t. It simply means that they don’t know how to do it. Click To Tweet
  • That’s why I wrote a post on having a pioneer mindset.
  • Don’t let other people convince you that you aren’t capable. They don’t know, and they won’t know until you prove you are.

3. Everybody has scars. Life goes on. So how can I win anyway?

  • Everybody has problems. No life is easy. And the bigger your goals, the tougher the obstacles you’ll probably face.
  • So what? The only way to avoid tough situations and problems is to set your sights very low—to lead a mediocre life full of mediocre goals that you don’t care much about and that don’t bring you much fulfillment.
  • Is that what you really want? If not, then stand your ground and figure out how to solve the problem you’re facing right now.

4. What can I do to make some progress today?

    • Forget about next week or next year, and focus on what you can do today. Because if you give up now, you’ll lose the full return on everything you’ve invested so far.
    • It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it matters that it gets done—because once it’s finished, you’ll be able to enjoy the results the rest of your life.

5. Recharge your motivation when you’re half way done so you can finish. 

  • Anyone can fall victim to thinking they’ll never get there because usually we’re exhausted at the end of a project. What we need to understand is how to get motivated and stay motivated—especially at the 2 key points in any project—the beginning and close to the end.
  • In the beginning, you have to remind yourself that it won’t always take this much effort. It won’t always be this confusing. It won’t always feel so awkward.
  • In the end, you have to remind yourself that if you keep going just a bit further, all of your hard work will pay off—at a level you probably can’t even imagine.

6. Until I quit, I haven’t failed.

  • You might lose. You might make a mistake. But you aren’t a failure until you decide to fail, to quit.

Learn how to coach yourself to success. When you’re feeling defeated, use these phrases to coach yourself forward. Winners always remember that. . . “quitters never win and winners never quit.” Losers dismiss this as a cliche but winners know this as truth.


How do you get through tough times? Let me know in the comments.

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