11 BEST Ways To Overcome Defeatist Attitude (2024)

Remember the last risk you almost took—maybe launching a startup, learning a new skill, or conquering a challenging project? 

Did the first bump in the road become so discouraging that you gave up before you were further invested?

Let’s dive right into it.

Check out these 11 best ways to overcome a defeatist attitude:

1. Imagine Who You’d Be Without Your Defeatist Attitude

Once you can imagine who and how you would be without a self defeating attitude, you can start to act as if.

Consider what could happen. Behave as if you didn’t have this issue, as if you weren’t worried or insecure at all. Over time, you actually won’t be.

2. Honesty Vs. Truth

You can honestly feel something, but that doesn’t mean it is the truth. Honesty is transparency. It means expressing exactly what you are experiencing and perceiving. 

Truth is different. You can honestly feel like your life is a big fail, but in truth, you could be doing very well (save for your insecurities). Understanding the difference is crucial.

3. “I Can’t” Vs. “I Won’t” 

When you’re feeling self-conscious, it’s easy to start to doubt yourself, when really, it’s more true that the thing you have doubt about has the potential to make you super uncomfortable and you think you could fail.

Change and replace self-talk thoughts like, “I can’t” with “I won’t.” Don’t let your fear defeat your ability for success.

4. “I Have To” Vs. “I Get To” 

Remember that what we have now is what we once only dreamed of. A great way to remind yourself of this is to replace the phrase “I have to” with “I get to.”

Instead of, “I have to complete this job,” think: “I get to complete this job.” It will remind you that nothing in life is guaranteed, and will help stoke a feeling of gratitude, rather than overwhelm.

Defeatist Attitude
Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

5. Compromise Vs. Defeatism 

We have a very big culture of equating compromise with failure. However, an all or nothing personality can often lead to disappointment, if you only have one very narrow view of success, then you are more than likely to feel like you’re going to fail.

Compromise can bring good results to both sides and helps you avoid a lot of drama while still getting what you both want.

So consider a team approach and get your ego out of the way to see that compromise can be a win-win success.

6. Reroute Your Self-Talk

Negative self-talk like, “I’m such an idiot”, “This will never work”, or “This is too hard”, as a response to failure, can be a major roadblock.

We have a tendency to zero in on small mistakes and errors as proof that we’re stupid or that our dreams will never become reality.

So recognize what’s true about your thoughts and look for alternative explanations.

7. Celebrate Small Wins 

Expecting outstanding results the first time you attempt something new is unrealistic and sets yourself up for failure.

To overcome your defeatist attitude, gather more evidence that you can succeed. To do that, start with small, manageable goals. 

Celebrate each one and as you achieve and gather more small successes, your self-confidence will grow, and your defeatist attitude will diminish. 

8. Spotlighting Yourself

It might be relieving to know, nobody is thinking about you with as much frequency, scrutiny and judgement as you are. 

Nobody. How do we know that? Because they are all too busy spotlighting themselves.

When you can humble yourself by reminding yourself of this insignificance, you can feel more at ease. 

While another person isn’t focusing on your life the way you are, realize nor are they judging, nit-picking or making assumptions about you or your behavior the way you do in your own head.

9. Find Out Your Needs 

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it’s easy to think there’s something fundamentally wrong with us. It feels deeply rooted and unchangeable.

People tend to feel self defeated when they feel powerless to get their needs met—so you can start this process by figuring out what your needs actually are.

Reflect on times in your life when you weren’t thriving. What was missing? Or when you were thriving, identify what was there.

10. Live Authentically 

If your needs are being met, this step is easy. Keep them in mind, and don’t stray too far from living a life that is authentically yours.

Start thinking about how you will communicate your needs, how you will start creating a life that meets your needs, and even what you will do if people in your life can’t meet those needs.

Standing up for yourself and living a life that is authentically yours generates positive self feelings.

11. Forgive Yourself

Almost everyone has said something hurtful, forgotten an important event, or betrayed someone they love.

To develop positive self-views, keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes. Your mistakes do not define you.

Mistakes do not make us good people or even bad people. If we learn and grow from them, then they make us better people.

What Causes Defeatism?

A lot of us have inherited this “what’s the point?” mentality, and it’s not our fault. 

It can keep you from even trying to change in the first place though, making you afraid that putting in effort will all be for naught and all that will happen is you’ll end up feeling stupid or even wasting your time.

This doesn’t have to be your reality, and so many people serve as examples of proof. Overcoming depression is not some fantasy.

People still rise above the situations they were born into, make more money, get more education, and be the supportive parents that their own never were.

Here’s what they knew: 

  • It takes practice and persistence to change a deeply ingrained thought pattern or program. Knowing this, ask yourself: How hard am I willing to work for happiness?
  • Living an unhappy life is far more difficult than putting in the work that will lead you to happiness.
  • You are not a martyr because you are unhappy and not doing anything about it. Your suffering will not cure any diseases, make the world a better place, or make your loved ones’ lives any easier, and it will just get worse if you don’t stop it now.
  • Change is hard, and there are so many ways of going about it. If you’ve tried to change before and relapsed, now you know one method that doesn’t work for you. Check that one off the list, and move on to another one.

Growing up in negative situations, trying to succeed without gaining ground, can contribute to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety and are just some of the many examples that can fuel this powerful mindset – the defeatist attitude.

Negative thinking can inform every behavior we take action on… or don’t take for that matter.

Our mindless or unaware brain created these thoughts while we weren’t paying attention.  It takes another level of thinking- mindfulness– to re-frame them.

You can rise above defeatism and teach your mind how to process information that turns around your defeatist attitude to form one of possibility.

Photo by Aravind Vijayan on Unsplash

Self Defeatist Attitude

A defeatist attitude can be crippling, and if left unchecked, can block you from achieving your most important goals.

Blaming others will never help you move on and become the person you choose to be. It will only keep you playing the victim, which will get you some sympathetic ears, but it won’t help you get out of bed with a smile every morning.

Understanding negative thinking is paramount to overcoming it.

Change can come quickly but more often it’s a gradual process of endurance and learning many lessons. 

These are some attitudes to change:

1. “I’m A Waste Of Time” 

Not true. Your close friends and family wouldn’t consider you a waste of time, even though you may find it difficult to believe sometimes. 

“People do value my ideas and opinions and they love my company.”

2. “Nothing I Do Is Good Enough”

What’s true is, “I can never live up to someone else’s idea of perfection.”

There are many things you can do with great success, but in order to make those achievements real for you, you can choose to define your own perfection: peanut butter on toast, growing your own fruit and vegetables, the smell of freshly baked vegan cookies, writing off the cuff or producing lucid prose.

Whatever it might be for you, own it and know you are enough.

3. “I Deserve Pain”

Again, not true. Nobody does.

There’s a difference between accepting responsibility for how you think about hurtful things other people have done, and taking the blame for those actions. 

“I’ve not done anything to deserve the things that have happened to me.”

4. “I’ll Never Be Happy”

Not with that attitude you won’t. You may not have all the things you want long term, like a dream job, but you do have a lot of other things in your life that mean a lot to you.

“Happiness comes from the small things like my cat, my garden, my creative ideas, etc.—it comes from inside me. I don’t buy happiness or find it or receive it; I make it for myself and it spreads to others.”

What Causes A Defeatist Attitude?

Rest assured, you weren’t born with a defeatist attitude. It’s a challenge, however you’re never destined to be stuck with one for the rest of your life.

Let’s examine some common root causes of a self-defeating mentality so we can better understand how to overcome it.

1. Low Self-Esteem

If you have low self-esteem, you’re not very confident in or satisfied with yourself. That can affect the way you view setbacks and contribute to a defeatist attitude.

For example, after experiencing failure, people in a study with high self-esteem focused on their strengths and suppressed their weaknesses, apparently as a way to maintain their positive self-view by staving off threats to it.

But for those with low self-esteem, their weaknesses became more accessible to them after failure.

2. Negative Past Experiences

Painful events, for example, failing to secure funding for your new startup, are a challenge that can make you avoid future situations where you think you might fail again.

Negative past experiences coupled with low self-esteem can breed a paralyzing fear of failure that stops you from achieving your goals.

Related: Why Do Bad Things Keep Happening To Me: 11 Psychological Roots

3. Negative Core Beliefs

Core beliefs are thoughts we believe about ourselves, others, and the world around us, such as, “people are generally kind” or “I’m not good enough.”

Whether we’re conscious of them or not, they affect our mindset and behavior.

So, for example, if one of your core beliefs is “I ruin everything,” you’ll unconsciously start looking for evidence that supports your negative core belief. This focus can perpetuate a defeatist attitude.

Opposite Of Defeatist Attitude

The opposite of a defeatist attitude is a possibility mindset or growth mindset. Develop this by examining each supposedly inaccessible thing you face.

Asking questions about your thoughts is progress, like, what is it about this thing that seems supposedly impossible — the road or the destination?

If it’s the road, look for other roads to the same destination. Find another plan, or different tools. Maybe adjust your timeline or who is involved.

If the destination really is inaccessible, ask yourself whether or not that destination is your ultimate destination — or just a stop on the way to another ultimate destination.

Ask yourself why you desire the long term goals that don’t seem possible. That reason will often reveal other goals that are actually more important to you, and possible to achieve given your current circumstances.

If nothing else, remember this: for everything that seems impossible, there is at least one other thing that is possible. Focus on possibilities, and persevere.

“You’ve gotta be in it to win it.”

“You can’t lose a race you never enter, but you can’t win it either.”

Know you’re not alone, everyone deals with defeat and self-doubt. Although, if you identify it and apply the techniques above, you can begin to free yourself from your own defeatist attitude.
Feel free to comment below and let us know how you’ve overcome defeatist attitudes. Then forward this article to a friend and let them know you support them ​​✅ .

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.