Calling someone a “loser” is normally frowned upon. It tends to fly in the face of everything we’ve learned or been taught about sociability, tolerance and compassion. Not to mention that it’s viewed as a harsh albeit considered assessment. We are by contrast more inclined – at least publicly – to make excuses for people’s poor or diminished behaviour, caused by everything from untimely loss of a loved one, accidental injury, medical trauma, mental illness or financial ruin. Frequently however it is an unavoidable conclusion that, whether through any fault of their own or not, some people are indeed de facto losers and all the mollification in the world will not change it.  They have simply lost the battle with life.  They may have capitulated, they may have succumbed, they have been beaten down by degrees.  Perhaps they never even had a chance in the first place (or possibly they never even tried).  Whatever the circumstance, they are by any account a loser, someone who hasn’t managed to come up smelling roses.

In the face of inordinate obstacles there is nonetheless an enormous amount of time, money and energy dedicated to improving the lives of losers. There are social workers, churches, psychiatrists, self-help associations, doctors, teachers and countless institutions, in addition to family and friends. Unfortunately it is not uncommon that the success of such dedication is minimal or ultimately a waste of time.  It seems that no matter how prolonged or extensive the assistance, it is frequently doomed to failure, just as the person who is being assisted proves to be an unalterable loser.

What is noticeably peculiar about this scenario is that for every loser there is a winner, someone who in spite of all the odds has triumphed. It is not this however which has captured my attention. What has suddenly intrigued me is not that some people are outstanding for their relentless battle against misfortune (though that alone is clearly remarkable); rather I am fascinated by the abrupt realization that some people are irrevocable and unqualified losers. In a word it has come as an utter shock to me to accept – like a completely unanticipated truth – that some people are destined to oblivion in every sense of the word; they haven’t a hope of ever recouping whatever they have lost or of regaining any worth (whether of their original or an alternate nature). What makes a loser a loser is not what other people think about that person; it’s what they think about themselves.  As revolting as it is to abide, there are some people who have spent inordinate time convincing themselves that they are failures and that nothing but nothing will ever make any difference.  These people are committed losers, people dedicated to the job of being useless and who have no intention whatever of trying to alter the course they’ve adopted.  Oh sure, you may hear some minor and occasional excuse for their lack of hope or improvement; but be assured that by and large what you have is someone who is getting a very big charge out of annihilating themselves.  At best your well-intentioned meddling in the life of a loser is an intolerable interference. It will certainly never make any difference to them, much less to you.

Even if there were some possible reason for the loser’s miscalculated behaviour, what’s more important to recognize is that nothing you do will ever change what they do.  Philosophical chatter about possibilities and the preciousness of life is simply codswallop to the loser!  Your charity is likely to be viewed as condescension. There is absolutely no point spending a moment of one’s time to attempt to make any difference in the life of a loser. In fact it would probably be less harmful and more fruitful if you kept out of the way entirely. You see, that’s the thing, all this Goody Two-Shoes business of pretending to care for a loser is an utter farce! Now don’t get me wrong, until the person reaches the point of being a certifiable loser, there may indeed be some value trying to help.  But when it becomes apparent that the loser could care a fig about what you do to help them or what they should do to help themselves, it’s time to quit! I’m sorry, but please don’t start believing that bleeding heart stuff which initially succeeded to dissuade you from reacting against the loser for their unforgivable conduct. Wake up!  You’re going to be the only one left in the room who hasn’t heard the music! Get out while there is still time! Cultivating a relationship with a loser can be unhealthy.

The profitability of any undertaking in life depends very much upon the productivity of all concerned.  It is not a one-way street. If it has for example taken you a while to discover in a person the unfortunate combination of financial woes and lack of ambition, maybe it’s time to head for the hills!  If you’re being repeatedly told that relapse is inevitable or that reciprocity is a virtual uncertainty, then I think you’ve done all you can. If you find you’re intent on spending time and energy on such a person, it may be time to ask yourself, “Who’s the loser?