How To Recover From Defeat


I was gutted. The outcome he’d been aiming for didn’t happen. Not good. As a person of normally many words, I had none this day to share with this friend of mine as he faced defeat.

It took a little time, but he found the words himself.

“I like to believe that I meet triumph and defeat just the same,”

he said to me. 

Those words stayed rattling around in the back of my brain for a few weeks, and then I met my own major disappointment and the phrase came rushing back to me. 

And I stood there, staring painfully at the phrase, wondering how in the hell I was supposed to do that. 

I had been in the middle of a major life-goal achievement. Everything was going incredibly well. Accomplishment! Success! Yay!

And then in the midst of all that, I learned that a separate goal I’d been working on, one I wanted badly, was going to be a “Kate, you lose” result. It took my breath away. And just like when my friend faced defeat, I had no words. I just stood there, empty. 

I’ve felt real devastation before, have had some major and serious losses in my life, and nothing is comparable to that – but this loss was still a shock to the system.

Maybe this loss hurt so much because it was juxtaposed with something so wonderful happening at the same time.

Losses happen sometimes when you play to win. It means you’re not playing it safe.

When I look at the notion of ‘not playing it safe’, to me it means this:

To decide to chase down extreme joy, success, and pleasure, is to open yourself up to the equal opposite ends of the spectrum as well.

 It’s like life says ‘if ya want the best parts, ya gotta take the whole damn thing.’

After a range of emotions and some time alone with my journal, I came up with a checklist of sorts, to help myself move from ‘not happy about this’ to ‘I accept this and grow from it.’ 

I wanted to share it with you because, chances are, you’ve lost at some point in your life. And if you haven’t lost yet, you’re going to someday. 

And I honestly believe that ‘how you handle life’ is part of your overall fitness. I wasn’t kidding around when I started Fit For Real Life back in 2009 with the goal of making the whole-person better, including the stuff ‘under the hood.’

Sure, muscles and lifting stuff and running is cool, but you’re missing the full deal if you’re finding some serious fitness lack in your higher-consciousness work. (“personal development work” for those who want to sound a little more ‘mature’…but since I live in a home where the only writing utensils I have in my desk are neon markers, and my humidifier for when I’m sick is an elephant…I’m clearly not leaning toward the ‘mature’ label at this time)

Note: if you’re a cut and dry kind of person, just accept the loss and move on, that’s what you’re good at. But if you in any way think about the existential part of winning and losing and life and why are we are here, then this checklist is up your alley. 

How To Deal When The Outcome You Desire, Doesn’t happen


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  • If you are the loser, acknowledge that the outcome went to the victor and leave a space in your mind for when you’re ready to ponder how this outcome might actually have been a victory for you as well.


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  • If possible and appropriate, ask those who were in the inner circle with you for their thoughts on what they saw as leading up to the outcome that happened. Take what’s helpful from those conversations and leave the rest.
  • Remind yourself that sometimes, you’re not going to get a “why” behind the outcome you got, or if you do get it, it may not show up for quite a while. Do a post-mortem on what you did well, what you need to do better next time, and then stop replaying it in your head. Getting lost in the “why” can be an endless (& fruitless) loop.
  • Check in on yourself. Losses show you who you are, and sometimes you don’t see a lot of that stuff because it’s down in the depths and only pops up when you’re highly uncomfortable. Not all of what comes up needs to be evolved out of. Losing shows you what stand for, but it also shows you areas where you can become better.
  • Smile. Something now has room to show on your path now that that other thing is out of the way. I don’t claim to understand how the Universe works, but I know that good stuff seems to show up.
  • Allow time and space to feel human about what happened, aka, you’re allowed to be upset, hurt, or torn up. It’s all good to feel that stuff so long as it has an expiration date on how long it’s allowed to linger.


Got something to add to the list that helped you deal with, and overcome, defeat? It might help someone else to hear it, so leave a comment on the FFRL facebook page with your best tip.

Losing sucks, but it’s gonna happen. How can we handle it better?

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