Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why are some people sore losers?

Two weeks ago, the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant featured an article on why (some) people are sore losers. The explanation was about loss aversion, a concept developed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979, which also plays a role in evolutionary psychology.

The above explanation addresses the original question – why are (some) people sore losers –  only to some extent. I don’t like losing either (ie, loss aversion) but I’m not a sore loser. I have learned my limitations in life and usually don’t enter into (highly) competitive games or sports. When I do – and lose – then my expectations come true. Winning brings a brief moment of joy.

I think, feel and believe that the answer to the original question- why are (some) people sore losers – is hidden in the aforementioned paragraph.

Knowing your limitations equals knowing and accepting who you are. Not accepting yourself results in self-overestimation (eg, arrogance) or self-underestimation (eg, low self-esteem). There are many ways to enter a competition in life (eg, rivalry with colleagues, siblings, fellow students, sports team members) and even in death (eg, fighting terminal illness).

How we deal with an outcome of a competition is dependent on how we accept ourselves.

If we overestimate ourselves, disillusion is close. If we underestimate ourselves then we are in for a surprise, and probably also some denial. If we accept ourselves, we will also accept any outcome (draw, loss, win).

Sore losers do not accept the outcome of a competition. Their non-acceptance is rooted in self-overestimation. In other words, sore losers do not accept their limitations and thus – by definition – themselves.

Acceptance is the final phase in the 5 step grief processing model, developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The first 3 steps of her DABDA model relate to sore losers: (1) Denial, (2) Anger, and (3) Bargaining. The next 2 steps are missing: (4) Depression (or: healing) and (5) Acceptance. During bargaining, the sore loser comes with excuses for her/his underperformance.

Losing might just be due to errors in execution. You can learn from your mistakes and improve your future game. Sore losers will, however, blame anyone but themselves (#3 Bargaining). They have no time for healing as they feel no (self) accountability and/or (self) responsibility. Without healing, there’s no acceptance and sore losers will therefore remain sore losers.

Loser (1993) by Back – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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