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How Not To Be A Loser

It took almost an hour before I could crack him…  before an opening appeared in the veneer of his self-confidence, allowing him to show a real emotion.

When we started the coaching call, he was cheerful.  Too cheerful, even.  The goal for the session was to break him of his perfectionism and fear of criticism, maybe even take a stab at his sense of being overwhelmed by the amount of work he had to do.

But the techniques I use for emotional mastery do not work on people who are being cheerful.  When you’re cheerful, you don’t need emotional mastery.

The time you need emotional mastery, is when you have raw emotions: the kind that slice you open from gut to gullet and leave your intestines bleeding on the floor!

So fears, doubts, rage, and sadness are the tools of my new trade…

If you can feel them, I can repeal them!

But nothing was working on this guy.  He wanted to work on his problems, but he just couldn’t bring himself to feel them while we were talking.

He was too intent on trying to learn my techniques and achieve an intellectual understanding of the process, too intent on maintaining his outward appearance of competence to really experience anything.

So I brought out the big guns.

I made him call himself a loser.

I made him say he’d never amount to anything, never build a successful business.

I told him to call himself a fake and a phony.

Because deep down, these were the things he was most afraid of…

The things he secretly believed about himself!

And finally, we started getting somewhere, as his voice broke down in sadness and defeat.

You see, these secret beliefs are shockingly common among people who are outwardly successful.  While not everyone who looks like a winner on the outside feels like a loser on the inside, there are more of us out there than you might think.

The people who are most driven to pursue some kind of success, are often more miserable than anybody.  Because nothing we do makes the inner taskmaster stop demanding more, more, more.  We are never good enough to “deserve” a break, never good enough to “deserve” a reward, and just never good enough, period.

When we suceed, we feel lucky, like we just dodged a bullet.  When we fail, we knew all along it was too good to be true.  And when there’s something good out there for the taking, we hold back just long enough to make sure that everybody else has had a chance to get some, before we timidly reach for our share.

And no matter how much we win, we never feel like winners – just…

Losers who happen to be winning!

Of course, we never admit this.  While still young, we push down this feeling of being a loser, and bury it under an ideal of “being a winner”.  We think that we will struggle and fight and win, someday proving that we are winners after all!

But it doesn’t work that way.  Because no amount of winning makes the feeling of being a loser go away.  No amount of happiness will take away that sadness inside, that sadness of knowing you’re just not good enough.

So I pushed my client hard, to break through that outer shell of “I’m going to make myself a winner”.

The things I made him say, however, were not of my devising.  They came from a list he’d made while listening to a recording from The Procrastination Cure, part of the “Batteries Included” package he’d purchased.

One of the workshop’s exercises was something called the “I’m Afraid I’m” list.  On it, you write down all the things you’re afraid your life means.  Like, “I’m afraid I’m lazy,”  “I’m afraid I’m stupid,” and so on.

And so I asked him to read the list, but to drop the “I’m afraid” part, and just say,

“I’m a loser… I’m a fake and a phony…”

…And so on.

And it hurt him to say those things, because they were things he’d been spending his whole life trying not to think about.  And here I was, asking him to not only say them out loud to a complete stranger, but to make me believe them as well!

Of course, if that were all I wanted him to do, the whole thing would have been a pointless exercise.  Merely experiencing or expressing your feelings does nothing to actually change them!  A moment or two of “letting it all out” might make the feeling pass for a short while, but then it would be back as soon as he needed to face another challenge in life.

So I told him to let me know when he was ready, and when he did so, I began reciting the “magic words” that would delete the feeling of “being a loser” from his brain – forever.

Then I asked him to read the list to me again.

“I’m a loser, a fake and a phony.  I’ll never have a successful business.”  He was saying the same words, but it now was clear that:

He didn’t believe a word of it!

Not the slightest crack or tremor remained in his voice, where a minute before he was sobbing, if not crying in response to these same words.

I asked him if he believed he was a loser any more.  “N-no,” he replied, almost astonished.  “I don’t.  I don’t feel that way at all any more.”

So I explained to him the concept of an “Ideal-Belief-Reality” conflict, as described by author Robert Fritz in some of his books.  And I explained that the root of this conflict about “being a loser” was in some childhood event that had triggered one of his brain’s safety circuits: the one I sometimes call the “runt of the litter” circuit.

You see, when an animal is smaller or weaker than its peers, it gets an imprint that basically says, “You’re clearly not good enough to win, and unlikely to survive any direct competition.  But if you stay out of others’ way, and don’t really compete with them, you just might manage to stay alive.”

In short, it’s an emotional imprint that tells you to act like a loser.

And what do losers do, exactly?  They try not to lose.  But…

“Not losing” is not the same as winning!

You see, if you’re trying to win, you aren’t going to be a perfectionist except maybe in one or two critical areas where it might actually count.  You’ll be in too much of a hurry to put your ideas into practice to dream about them indefinitely.

But if you’re trying not to lose, then perfectionism is the name of the game.  You won’t dare finish anything, because what’s finished might be wrong, and then you’ll have lost.  And that will just prove you’re a loser – something you can’t let happen!

So I spent most of my life under the control of this circuit, and like most such people, I became an expert at “not losing”.  I can even take a certain perverse pride in probably being one of the world’s best non-losers, ever.  I was so good at “not losing”, that most of my “non-losses” actually looked like wins, even to me!

But no matter how many “non-losses” you rack up, you’ll still feel like a loser unless you…

Deactivate the “loser circuit” first!

Because the function of this circuit is to protect you, in its own misguided little way.  This circuit doesn’t know you’re not an animal; it’s just your “legacy software” or inherited evolutionary baggage.  Maybe it was even helpful for humans, in some violent or brutal past.

But if you’re reading this right now, you are not in such dire circumstances.  You are living a life of comparative abundance, not fighting with others for scraps!  You don’t need a circuit that tells you to sit on the sidelines to wait until “the big boys” move away from the food (or potential mates), so you can scavenge some leftovers for yourself without getting beat up!

Now, I don’t know if my one session with that client last week wiped away every possible trigger for his loser circuit.  But I do know that since I did the same thing for myself last summer, I have never felt that depth of despair again.

And as I remove, one by one, the other limiting feelings that I experience in my life, I continually become more confident, more outgoing, and more bold.

And although I still have a long way to go before I’ll be as naturally confident as someone who never had their loser circuit activated in the first place, I find that I’m quite happy with the pace at which I become…

More confident in more circumstances, than I have ever been before

And if you would like to learn how you can do this too, or have the chance for me to help you shake your limiting beliefs, I encourage you to join me on Wednesday night, for my Beyond Belief workshop.

In it, I’ll be showing how our emotional imprints (like the “loser circuit”) create lasting beliefs that hold us back from living our dreams.  And most importantly, I’ll be showing how to identify, question, and eliminate negative beliefs and feelings – instantly.

To listen to the workshop, you need to be an Associate or Full member of The Owners’ Circle, and to participate (i.e. ask questions or get “worked on” by me), you need to be a Full member.  The workshop starts at 9:30pm Eastern time, on Wednesday, February 7th.

Friends, Associates, and Full members will also receive an issue of “Life-Changing Secrets” on CD, covering the advanced secrets of emotional mastery that I’ve been learning in the last six months of experimenting on myself and others, and an issue of “Life Without Struggle” that will explain how to…

Design your ideal life!

So, you don’t have to feel like a loser any more.  Sign up for an annual membership with the “Batteries Included” package, and you’ll also get your own free, private, one-on-one Ambition Ignition session with me.  Believe me, this is one time where not losing is a really good idea, so get in on this now while you still have the chance!

Otherwise, every time you hear another story about someone going through my workshops or coaching and changing their lives because of it, you’re just going to feel worse and worse, knowing it could have been you.  Will you sit back and let the “other guys” take all the goodies and leave you to pick over the scraps?  Or will you finally claim what’s yours, today?


Join the discussion
  • You know that there is a pattern to self-help Gurus?

    I call it the self-help-guru-pattern. It runs like:

    1. I feel like shit
    2. I figure out how to make myself feel better to some degree
    3. I start teaching people to do the same for themselves

    Sure it all is very noble, and maybe you can make a living of it, or maybe you give it away all for free, but beeing what you are, a former looser, some subtelities of beeing a “winner” might’ve slipped your owners manual.

    Which is that people who are naturally confident are in danger of defining their confidency by how other people see them. I call it the Starlet pattern. And people who’ve never been naturally confident are in particular danger of slipping into it, because after all, confidence feels so darn good, any means to archieve it can’t be that bad.

    So if these activities you do with others help yourself to feel better and give you valued feedback that what you do is right and important, you might just be unknowingly be cought up in the other extreme.

    If you want to have a refreshing look into the mirror, I’d recommend The Game by Neil Strauss. I found it rather entertaining because it didn’t take itself all to serious and because of it’s involuntary funny quality.

    Btw. things like the now disabled comments of that post or the followup post, both of which you’ve now burried and which are not findable on your blog anymore, don’t speak of a very balanced nature.

    Hey, I’m not balanced either, but at least I’m not giving courses in it right? 🙂

  • “””both of which you’ve now burried and which are not findable on your blog anymore”””

    Uh, both posts are right here:


    Meanwhile, I’m not sure what you mean by a “balanced” nature, but MY definition doesn’t include listening to whiny crybabies or providing them with a free forum to express their views. So when people act like children, I see no problem with taking away their toys. 🙂

    As for the rest of your theory, it’s pretty clear that you’re talking about somebody other than me. My confidence or lack thereof certainly doesn’t come from your opinion of me, or anyone else’s. I post the praise I receive *to encourage others to seek help*, not to stroke my own ego.

    Sure, the first month or two of my first workshop series was exciting in a “wow, look what I can do” sense, but that’s pretty much worn off. Now, it’s about the work and the people and building a solid business around it.

    But I’m guessing that you’re not very interested in that, because it appears that you desperately need to find *something* that will make me smaller, so you can feel bigger.

    And that’s okay by me. I hereby grant you permisssion to think of me as small as you like, however much will make you comfortable with your own place in life. I won’t even charge you for this special gift. 🙂

    But you know, if reading about people changing their lives bothers you so much, perhaps you should do something about changing your own life. If you ever want to work on that anger of yours, you’re welcome to come to my workshops, under the same terms as anybody else, and I promise not to treat you any differently, no matter how much you may try to provoke me.

  • That I come to your self-help courses is very unlikely. For two reasons:

    1. Several thousand miles of atlantic ocean
    2. The whole self-help-guru scene, I find it unsettling and involuntary comical. But then I guess this comes from beeing an ingrained nonconformist and zynic.

    Anyway, you’re wrong to think that there’s something “to be done” about anger. Anger can be a problem, it isn’t mine.

    Consider that every thing you dampen and bring into control is a thing lost that provides energy and inspiration. Almost any emotion can be harnessed for constructive means and thus be transformed. Anger is excelent to produce eagerness, insistence, relentlessness, anticipation, courage, determination and perfection.

  • “””Several thousand miles of atlantic ocean”””

    My workshops are conducted online via Skype and telephones, so that should not be an issue. 🙂

    “””I guess this comes from beeing an ingrained nonconformist and zynic.”””

    Which, like most human activity, is a defense mechanism to avoid feeling hurt. Specifically, an ideal-belief-reality conflict structure where you fear you are too gullible, and you thus construct an ideal that is the opposite, which you then try to live up to.

    Yet, somehow, you find yourself getting deceived, taken in or “burned” repeatedly, despite your efforts, do you not?

    “””Consider that every thing you dampen and bring into control is a thing lost that provides energy and inspiration.”””

    Where’d you get that idea from, Star Trek reruns? 🙂

    You’re also under a mistaken impression if you think I help people dampen and bring things “into control”. I specifically help people go *out of control* and fully express an emotion, so that it’s finished and over with. No need to live your whole life being mildly angry when you can be REALLY angry for a minute and be done with it.

    Contrary to what you seem to believe, our physiology is not evolved to carry around low-level unexpressed emotions all the time. Emotions are there to create *immediate* reactions to a situation – they are supposed to be over and done when the threat or other circumstance has passed. You don’t see animals sitting around moping, griping, or worrying, do you?

  • I’d really really like to know those magic words too. But now that month has passed. How can I get them? Come on, will it really ruin your business to tell us? Practice some selflessness… please? You could just post them already.

  • “””You could just post them already.”””

    I posted a link to a set of directions last summer. No, I won’t tell you where. (And of course, I have made many refinements to the original technique since then.)

    “””Come on, will it really ruin your business to tell us?”””

    Maybe not — but it’ll *definitely* ruin the chances that most people will ever actualy *do* anything. If you’re not committed enough to *hunt* or *pay* for the answer, you’re not going to actually use it.

    I stumbled on this information *years* ago on a site that gave the information away for free — but never really *used* it. It wasn’t until years later when my desire to DO something was sufficient to make me hunt through hundreds of bookmarks by hand (along with Google and the Web Archive) to find it, that I actually started doing something with it.

    The truth is that people simply don’t value what they get for free. No matter how much they *say* they will, and truly *believe* that they will, they don’t. That means that I will actually *benefit* more people by making the information harder to get, than I will by throwing it out there in the open.

    Notice that the basic how-to information for this technique is out there for free on at least two websites — neither one of which is particularly popular or successful as a result, nor has the technique become widespread in use as a result of it. If the world really worked the way you think (and I used to think), then everybody in the whole world should already know about and be using the technique, and lauding the genius of the man who originally discovered it. They’re not.

    “””I’d really really like to know those magic words too. But now that month has passed. How can I get them?”””

    The new CD hasn’t gone out yet, so if you subscribe NOW, you’ll get the current CD and newsletter immediately — magic words and all. A “friend” membership at $29.95/month is a bargain for this kind of information, let alone what the next CD and newsletter are going to have in them.

  • People will use it when they are committed. When they are committed they’ll hunt, and pay, and work for it, and use it. It’s not the hunting and paying that *makes* them committed. Setting a price-tag doesn’t change people – it just weeds out the uncommitted – and those who are committed, but poor. So that you don’t see them. And as having to work hard for something doesn’t *create* commitment, except maybe increase existing committment a very limited amount, it only means that time is spent, unnecessarily, to find the answer, before it can be used.

    “””Notice that the basic how-to information for this technique is out there for free on at least two websites — neither one of which is particularly popular or successful as a result,”””
    it’s not the price of something that makes it popular, except if it’s fashion, or fashionable items. Steve Pavlina’s site is *massively* popular, and 100% free. I value all of your free blog-entries very highly, because they’re wise, intelligent, and useful. And I have applied some of your mind-hacks, with great success. I started working with the free information you give immediately when I discovered it a few days ago. It’s not that people don’t value what they get for free – it’s that people pay for what they value.
    The things that have meant the most for me in my life are free personal development websites that I stumbled upon. Not something I worked for. And I *used* that information to better my life. Thusly, I have empirical evidence that it was not work or money that made me use that information improve my life. It was (and is) the painfulness of an un-improved life, and the lure of the improved life.

    Some of what you’ve just said is basically already agreeing with me. The information was free for you, all the time, only your desire to use it changed. “””when my desire to DO something was sufficient to make me hunt through hundreds of bookmarks””” first you had a desire, then you worked. Not, first you put in work, then you had the desire.

    We value our lifes. We got them for free.

    I value potentially life-changing information. (And I value life-changes enough to use it.) I also value money, and time. And I’d like for all the people who would use this information if they had it, but aren’t quite ready to give out the money, to have it.
    Why would someone who value 30$ more than a cd with the information, use it? Because there is tons of free, good information on the internet. Then ‘do I use it?’ is filtered through ‘do I have it?’ is filtered through ‘is it free?’ (all of this assuming it has gone through the meta-filter of ‘is it good?’)
    I just latched my curiosity unto this.

    I think I’ll order the CD/friendship membership. That is actually the LAZY side of me, that won’t spend time hunting through your posts, going by the clue of ‘last summer’. And the curious side of me, that wonders what else you hide on those CDs. And a part of me that wants to get this to help a friend who has low self-esteem, because it seems such a ‘miracle cure’ on others if it is like you describe – I already know how to work on myself, and successfully am. And quite easily – mindhacks feel like realizations to me, more than hard-won discoveries, maybe because I just harvest the juicy, finished wisdom from marvellous sites like yours. It is *fun*. I’m motivated by future pleasure instead of past pain.

    Question: What if the CD had gone out? What about previous CDs?

    And I do think you should earn a good deal of money, by they way. That’s not the rub for me. Truth is. I’m committed to truth.

    “””If the world really worked the way you think (and I used to think), then everybody in the whole world should already know about and be using the technique, and lauding the genius of the man who originally discovered it. They’re not.”””

    There are many good, high-quality, expensive self-improvement programs out there. Yours isn’t the first, we can agree. So why aren’t all people in the world, or at least all moderately wealthy, leading lives on the information given in those programs? May people think it’s too good to be true. Maybe because of all the over-priced crap that you could spend a lifetime going through without seeing half of it. Maybe because it’s common belief that people can’t change, that wonderful lives are for the select few, that life is hard and you have to work hard for everything, and that it’ll always be hard work, disorganized, procrastinating, inefficient, fearful… Yeah, why don’t everybody know the techniques of the geniuses that are selling them. Lots of reasons. Not money, not work – those are secondary.

    “””Notice that the basic how-to information for this technique is out there for free on at least two websites”””
    which? 😀

    P.S. THANK YOU for all that you already have put out for free.

  • Hi.
    I read the article on “How not to be a loser” and i wanted to ask some questions.
    I’m a school boy.
    I’m 12 years old and i have a problem.
    My other schoolmates think i’m ugly(but they said i’m ugly in a way that i dream too much and think that there is only me and the world)and that i’m weird.
    And they also say that i act like i’m cool when i’m not.
    How can i change the fact of being ugly,weird and acting cool?
    I don’t like to communicate…i rather stay away from people rather than talking with them about something?
    Please respond.

    The weirdo.

  • “””My other schoolmates think i’m ugly(but they said i’m ugly in a way that i dream too much and think that there is only me and the world)and that i’m weird.”””

    I was in your same situation, more or less, when I was a kid. My parents told me I should ignore the other kids when they said mean things, but that was exactly the WRONG thing to do. I see now that those kids just wanted me to be a part of the group, and that if, instead of being all hurt and avoiding them when I got teased, I were laugh it off and tease back (in a fun way, not an angry or hurt way), I’d have actually made more friends and been happier.

    So, believe it or not, they’re actually saying they *want* you to be a part of their group. They don’t like it that you don’t pay attention to them. All the stuff about being weird and acting cool is that they think you’re claiming to be BETTER than them, and that you don’t need them.

    But the biggest human need is to be needed. So do them a favor, and at least pretend that you are interested in them or need some help from them. Seriously… you will actually make some friends that way, because they won’t feel threatened any more. And then they might also decide that you really are cool, not just acting that way.

    And when you do that out of kindness for them, instead of out of desperation or hurt for yourself, you will become a better person as well — you will feel like you are kind and generous and friendly… and even if they still say mean things to you, you will still feel like you are a good person on the inside, because you at least tried to do something good for them.

    Just make sure you do it because you want to be kind, not because you want to be right or better or “show them” or any other reason that comes from anger and hurt. That stuff really does lead to the dark side, and believe me, it’s not a nice place to be. I spent way too many years there.

  • What do you do when you face the reality that your dreams are just not possible in this lifetime? I live paycheck to paycheck. Every time I have "given myself a well-deserved break" like taking a family vacation or going on a date with my husband, we can't pay our bills. So our life consists of working working working working working working working working
    cooking cleaning cooking cleaning working cooking cleaning…you get the idea. I cannot afford to pursue my dreams. It is driving me insane, it is driving my husband away, and it makes me a terrible mother. I just want to die because I can't stand it. I'm not a bad person. I am a hard worker. I pay my bills and I clean my house. That's all there is room for. But I just can't get these dreams out of my head, but I can't seem to do anything about it. All I can think is now what? I don't even have friends. And it's all because I don't want to hang around people that bring me down and don't respect me. I guess there are just a lot of really negative people. But the normal and positive people are just so boring. They just want to talk about the weather and what sorts of special carseats they're buying. Talk about a loser cycle.



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Cover photo of "A Minute To Unlimit You" by PJ Eby
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