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There are many definitions of ‘losers’ but for the purposes of this piece I am going to stick to my own eccentric definition: a loser is someone who – 60% or more of the time – leaves you feeling worse about yourself than you felt before. Losers are not good for you and ideally you should quietly, gently and firmly allow them to drop out of your life, or ensure their orbit is such that they are too far away from you to do you harm.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to think of losers as doing you harm. There are plenty of things to feel bad about in the world – an hour spent reading a newspaper or half an hour spent watching television should be enough to remind you of some of them. What you can do without is gratuitous feeding of feelings that are not based in the tangible world but come from insecurities and notions you have of not being good enough or deserving anything better from life.

What my version of losers do in this particular food chain may or may not be deliberate. It may not even have anything to do with you personally. The effect, however, is striking. On you. Personally. I’m not saying they are responsible for how you feel – only you are responsible for that –or that they ‘make’ you feel or do anything. The point is that something about your interaction with them leaves you feeling ‘less than’, unimportant, anything but good.

Clearly one option is to do some serious self-analysis, establish why these feelings occur and tackle the real cause rather than the symptom or apparent (but not necessarily real) cause. That would be a good idea, without a doubt. For those who don’t quite manage to do that, though, I think the solution of moving the losers to a more distant orbit is a reasonable compromise.

Examples of losers

  • The person whom you are fond of and think of as close to you who never makes any effort towards you whatsoever.
  • The person whom you are fond of who lives a long way away, who comes to the town or city where you live, doesn’t call or visit you, and then tells you afterwards that they were there.
  • The person whom you have to persuade that they should meet you or visit you.
  • The person you keep contact with, who never calls you and who cancels more meetings with you than they attend.
  • The person who, when your conversation or meeting with them ends, leaves you feeling empty, wishing you had done something else with your time.

What all these people have in common is this: to an impartial observer it is clear beyond doubt that the relationship between you and each one of them is unbalanced and unequal. The reasons for that lack of balance and inequality are irrelevant. The people may be undeserving; they may be thoughtless; you may not be good at picking people to cultivate and may choose the wrong ones; or they may quite simply not like you, appreciate you or care for you enough to really bother. For whatever reason, you are investing more than they are and at some level, at some stage of the process – probably every time you interact with them – you mind.

You need to let go of them. Stop investing; stop bemoaning the fact that things are not different from the way they are and getting to a position where you feel bad about yourself on account of it. You may or may not have reasons to feel bad. However, insisting on allowing others to drain you of what self-esteem you have, and give you nothing in return, is nothing more than a bad habit you can choose to break.

Operate the 60/40 test. If people don’t improve your world – even just for a moment – at least 60% of the time you spend interacting with them, your association with them is not really helping either of you. Whichever way you look at it, the process has failed – for you they’re losers and giving them up doesn’t actually constitute your ending up without anything that is good for you. The reason you probably find it hard to give them up is fear that if you do you’ll be left alone with no-one to lean on. The reality is these people are not there for you to lean on anyway – you need to accept that reality.

Do yourself a favour: lose the losers. Or, as Maya Angelou reportedly put it, “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

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