For many years and right up until the point that he passed away, my dad would say what a failure he thought he was. Every Christmas after a few glasses of wine, he would trot the ‘failure’ story out. It was as much a part of our Christmases as turkey and crackers.

I never really understood by what metrics he was measuring himself and crucially neither did he. I used to assure him that someone who had raised several healthy and successful children, started a business, built houses in his spare time and travelled the world was definitely no failure. But he persisted in his belief that he was one of life’s losers.

He wasn’t a loser. But he had a loser mindset. It was that that made him repeatedly tell himself and everyone else that he was a complete failure. He already believed it and eventually everyone else was going to believe him too.

So, if you’re already feeling like success is elusive, now is the time to nip it in the bud and ask yourself the question – How do you tell if you have a loser mindset?

Lets be clear. There is a difference between having a loser mindset and BEING a loser. Nobody is really a loser. Folks may have not progressed in their careers as much as others or have less money but that doesn’t make you a loser. But if you think like a loser, it can affect how you and others see you and that in turn can determine your levels of success. So the question is not “Am I a loser?” but do I have a loser mindset? And if you are here then you know that you do. But its fixable. So lets look at what it is and what to do about it.

Lobsters with a Loser Mindset

Jordan Peterson in his book 12 Rules For Life devotes a whole chapter to the low status lobster. Lobsters, like humans, live in hierarchical societies and jostle to get the best partners and the best houses and the best food. When two lobsters come up against each other in a competition for shelter, they try and avoid physical combat as its too dangerous. So firstly, they excrete a load of hormones contained in jets of water that shoot out from under their eyes. The chemicals transmit information about sex, size, age giving an indication of who is most likely to win any physical fight. If this doesn’t determine it, then there are fisticuffs.

Need a Loser Brain to House Your Loser Mindset?

Once the chemical or physical interaction is over, the loser retreats and eventually, if he suffers a series of defeats, his brain dissolves and he grows back the brain of a loser. Yep! A loser brain! This brain secretes weaker versions of the chemicals condemning him to be a loser forever. You see. Low status lobster.

Some Chemicals with Your Loser Mindset Sir?

Once you’re a low status lobster, you are giving out signals that tell others your status level. Yes, there are these cocktails of chemicals – low levels of serotonin and high levels of octopamine – and we all know that low serotonin is linked to poor mood and depression. That’s why many anti-depressants work on serotonin levels. Then there is body language. A lobster with high serotonin levels is likely to be a cocky fellow with a confident strut. The lobster with a loser mindset however – well, he’s likely sitting in the pub crying into a lager shandy.

So, the key to overcoming a loser mindset is to give out something else. Act like a high status lobster. Identify the things that give you a loser brain and address them. Boost those serotonin levels and build that winner brain!

To read a bit more about this, check out this article from The Coaching Academy called Is Your Body Language Affecting Your Confidence? CLICK HERE to access it.

Signs You Do Have a Loser Mindset

You Blame External Things For What Happens To You

This is a big one and such a giveaway. Didn’t get that promotion? Your manager doesn’t like you and put the boot in. Your partner dumped you? You always knew they wanted someone with a better body. You can’t get that PB in the gym? Its because everyone is always looking at you and laughing and it puts you off.

Of course, these reasons may all be true – in which case you need a new job, a new partner and a new gym!

But its not really true is it? If you are honest with yourself, you weren’t qualified for the promotion and didn’t prepare for the interview, your partner had left because you and they didn’t really have anything n common and the PB in the gym – well, you only go there 3 times a month so progress is impossible.

If you can attribute success to yourself, then it follows that you probably had a hand in your disappointments and failures too. Yes, there may be external factors but you can’t control those. You can only control what YOU do.

ASK YOURSELF – Do you blame others for what happens to you?

You Don’t Try New Things In Case You Fail

If you already believe you are a failure, it is unlikely you will seek out new opportunities to remind you and others of your loser status. You won’t see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Your loser mindset may even tell you there is no point in learning new skills.

You will sit in your comfort zone – complaining about it probably – but will be so paralysed by fear that you will do nothing to change your circumstances.

ASK YOURSELF – Do you only do things you know you can do?

You Talk To Yourself In a Nasty Way

I believe we learn a lot about ourselves by listening to what we say in our heads.

Do you call yourself an idiot everytime you make a spelling mistake? Do you lose your temper every time you miss a shot on the squash court and say you’re going to give up the game?  

Berating yourself with insults, self-doubt and criticism just reinforces your own perception of yourself. Say them out loud in company and you’re giving an impression of yourself to others.

ASK YOURSELF – Do you call put yourself down?

You Lack Resilience

If you have a loser mindset, its unlikely that you will push past any obstacle. You will probably give up at the first challenge, seeing it as a reinforcement of your belief that nothing goes right for you and you can’t catch a break.

I recognised this trait in myself. My lack of resilience – or lack of ‘grit’ as I prefer to name it – was the reason I never progressed as far in my many careers as I should have done. I always stopped myself – or let something else stop me. “Its too much like hard work! I would say. Or I would blame external factors (see above). I was 57 when I finally noticed this! 57!

ASK YOURSELF – Do you give up easily?

Jealousy of Others

If only I had her chances in life.

Why don’t I have the time to go to the gym like he does?

I’m sure I’d be great if I earned the salary she does.

Its not fair….why does he have everything and I have nothing?

Sound familiar? This is very much linked to blaming others for what happens to you. Someone with a loser mentality is obsessed with others – what they do, what they have, where they go, what they look like, their perceived successes. And it all seems so effortless. Even though our rational brain tells us that people MAKE chances, people are CONSISTENT in making the time to go to the gym to get results, people earn big salaries because they have developed the SKILLS or experience.

But a loser mindset doesn’t think rationally. So the loser brain is not pleased for others but is envious.

This quote highlights a more helpful thought process-:

My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be” – DR Wayne Dyer.

ASK YOURSELF – So, are you envious of others?


If you answered YES to some or all of those questions, then the bad news is that you may well have a Loser Mindset. I’ll give you a moment to inwardly digest that.

But the good news is that you don’t have to KEEP a loser mindset! READ ON.

How to spot whether someone has a winner or a loser mindset?

Here’s a few things to start you off. Take a look around the office or your friendship group and see if you can tell who are the winners. I’m pretty sure you’ll already know who they are.

I’ve added a few examples here to help you with what to look for.

High Status / WinnerLow Status / Loser
Expansive posture, takes up space, relaxed and casualContractive posture, fast and random movements, touching face and head,
Deep and relaxed voice, long pausesFast speech, high pitch, short pauses
Direct eye contact, head upright, slow movementsWandering eye contact, tilted head, fidgeting
Non-reactive, does not act on someone else’s cue, first to stand or sit or leave, considers responses before answering, lets others move out of the wayCompliant and hyper-reactive, responds too quickly, waits for others to act first, moves out of others way
Effortless execution of tasks, does not show the effortOpen industry, thinking noises, sticks tongue out when thinking

Now Do The Same…….

That’s right. Copy them. Watch how they operate and try and adopt some of their body language as your own. Making little changes can soon snowball into big changes.

Not only will adjusting your posture and physical movements give the impression of being higher status than you may feel, but it is known to have a positive effect on those all-important chemicals in your brain. What’s the saying? Fake it till you make it.

And once you have made it, its time to start chasing those goals. Try my blog post ‘3 EASY STEPS TO REACH YOUR GOALS USING REVERSE ENGINEERING’. CLICK HERE to read.

In Conclusion

I don’t believe anyone is a loser. I believe there are people who behave like losers unknowingly and some who believe they are losers. Once you believe that, you have effectively grown a loser’s brain like Larry the Lobster. You may not be spraying chemicals from underneath your eyes – at least, I hope you’re not! – but you are giving out a message whether you like it or not. Controlling that message is half the battle. Control it for long enough and it will become second-nature.

So why not try the quick fix discussed above. Think about your body language and make small and subtle adjustments.

At the same time, check your language – how you speak to yourself and how you speak to others about yourself. If you say “I’m such a loser”, change it to “I have such a loser mindset”. If its “I’m a failure”, change it to “I think like a failure”.

You still get to give yourself a hard time – as that’s clearly what you enjoy – but the damage is lessened.

Try it. It helps.

Thanks for reading this. Let me know what you think in the Comments below or suggest other small changes that could help.



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