Do you see friends or family members stuck in perpetual victimhood? Have you found yourself playing the role of the victim? Maybe you are feeling hopeless about a given life situation.
A victim sees the control and responsibility for their situation as belonging to others. Someone or something else is causing these unsettling circumstances. Blame is at the center of the victim mentality so external influences have all the power.
Anyone outside of this mindset can spot this negative line of thinking almost immediately. However, when you are “stuck” in this mode, your perception is not always so clear. If you are far into your circumstances, you can be completely blocked from recognizing the downward spiral.
Whatever the circumstances, the victim mentality is a destructive mindset. Not only does the victim feel negatively about their current situation, but they most assuredly reach the point of complete powerlessness. Many will use negative coping skills like reliance on prescription drugs, alcohol and/or illegal drugs to provide temporary relief. Trying to cover up their helplessness will only make matters worse and the downward spiral will continue.
So, what is the solution?
Victor Frankl survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz by discovering the ultimate freedom; to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, or to chose one’s own way.
He couldn’t change his physical surroundings, but he could adjust his attitude.
Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Our environment (the stimulus) is a given, but our response to the situation is what we have control over. We can either choose to play the role of victim or change our attitude toward the situation. In this space of time, Frankl discovered that freedom exists. Not the freedom from our negative circumstances, but the freedom of how we choose to perceive it.
When disturbed, many find comfort in saying the Serenity Prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The victim gives their power over life to other people, places or things. Their life seems to move from negative life situation after another. You can almost hear them, “Why does this always happen to me?”
The path to freedom for the victim lies in accepting responsibility for their future and removing blame from the equation altogether – it never works.
Victims spend countless hours and energy worrying and thinking about things they cannot change and always to the point of draining themselves and/or others.
Contrary to the victim mentality is having the courage to change the things we can. If you pay attention and study proactive people, they focus on the things they can influence. In fact, Stephen Covey’s first habit of highly successful people is being proactive. Focus on what is contained within your circle of influence and that circle will grow. Ineffective people focus on things outside their influence and waste time and energy while the circle just gets smaller.
In summary, what is your world view? Are you being proactive and making things happen? Or is life just too hard, and always one step ahead of you?
When negative situations arise, do you perceive them as opportunities to learn and grow, or do you see them as another sign of life working against you?
As you can see, a little perception and attitude can make all the difference. Choose the path of wisdom – have courage and be proactive.