What makes one person overcome obstacles, adversity, and one person dwell in their circumstances unable to climb out of the muck and murky waters? I think it is all in perspective. The person who can overcome and move beyond circumstances is one who says I am in control of my destiny—the choice is mine to get out of this mess. The one who cannot is content to play the victim. It’s always someone else’s fault. They say, “I’m not responsible for what has happened to me, I am the victim here.” The problem with that according to Thomas Hardy is that “once a victim—always a victim.”
We see it all the time of people who have climbed out of circumstances beyond their control who decide not to dwell in their circumstances, who takes responsibility for his/her actions and betters their life. I recently read a blog from a woman reflecting on 2009, and she stated, “due to legal battles, my daughter and I were homeless.” I know this woman and the circumstances in which she was “homeless.” Rather than pay for the home she was living in, she wanted someone else to pay for her to live in it rent free while she sat home and refused to go to work. It was her choice not to go to work, not to pay rent, and not to have a home. Yet, in her mind, it was someone else’s fault. She was the victim and became “homeless.”
We have become a society of victims. What is victim mentality?
There is a difference between being a victim and having a victim mentality. Many people are victims of terrible ordeals and traumas—physical, sexual or emotional abuse, assault or violence. These are terrible crimes and terrible experiences. It is how we respond to these situations and process our feelings that determine if we remain victims throughout our lives.
A victim mentality is one where you blame everyone else for what happens in your world. If you do not get the promotion it’s because your coworker was out to get you. Not because the boss found you surfing the Internet every day. Or, it’s your ex’s fault you had to drop out of school—never mind that you didn’t attend class or do your homework—it was someone else’s fault. Victim mentality.
Richard Bach says, “If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”
Deborah King states, “When we are in victim mentality, we feel like the world owes us because of the suffering we have endured.”
How do we get rid of this victim mentality? For some, they never can. They don’t want to. It’s easy to be the victim. With the victim mentality, people give you attention. The focus is on you. How sad you have to go through this? How awful it is that you have been treated this way! You don’t deserve this! You get to have the feelings and validation of being self-righteous. You get to stay in a safe little cocoon trapped in your web of being the victim surrounded by all these attention giving people telling you how right you are, validating all your feelings of “poor me, poor me.” For so many people (especially those that are emotionally needy) the victim mentality will always be their way of life. They crave that attention.
For others who want to take control of their life, and be in charge of their destiny—dumping the victim mentality is a must do.
First, take responsibility for your life. It is your life. Your choices. Nobody has made those choices for you. If your marriage failed, take stock and own up to the areas in the marriage where you participated in its failure. If you didn’t finish school, look at the choices you made that hindered you from your goal. If you didn’t get that promotion, focus on what you needed to do or should do to set yourself up for another promotion. It’s not your co-worker’s fault you didn’t the promotion. Don’t give anyone the power over your life. Take responsibility for your life and your circumstances.
Second, forgive. Forgive anyone you feel has victimized you whether real or imagined. Let it go. Holding onto your hurt and anger only affects you. When you hold a grudge or want revenge for someone, it only affects you and your thoughts. Forgiveness is not forgetting. It’s simply acknowledging what happened, and saying, “you no longer have any control over my life.” It’s not a process that happens overnight, but it can happen when you little by little let it go.
Third, stop focusing on yourself. Turn your attention to others. Who needs your help? Who is worse off than you? Start feeling gratitude. Be grateful for the blessings you have been given? Do you have your health? Think about volunteering for an organization. Help others who actually need help. Take the focus from you and put it on others. By doing this—you are empowering yourself to take control over your life.
As we ring in the New Year, it’s the perfect time to say to yourself, “I want to be in control of my life, and take responsibility for my choices. I am no longer a victim.”