Just a thought: Avoid living a victim mentality

Are you a victim? I believe you are.

You probably don’t have to look far to find something in your past or present that is not right, something that is unfair. Something beyond your control. Something that happened to you that never should have happened.

It may be the result of an act or failure to act by a person or organization intentionally designed to cause harm to you. Or it may be an event that occurred that was entirely accidental, but you were the recipient of the wrong or injustice that resulted.

Nevertheless, you didn’t ask for what happened to you. You were merely the victim of someone or something else.

What are examples of how someone becomes a victim? It may be the color of your skin. It may be that you were abused. It may be you were fired unjustly. It could be a health condition. Your spouse may have had an affair. It may be you were discriminated against. A complete list would fill the rest of this column.

Recognize you’re a victim. You can hold it up in the air as you would a torch. Tell the world you’re a victim. Tell the world they owe you something because of your bad experience.

Live your life in such a manner that people who don’t even know you point at you and say, “There walks a victim.” Understand that you only have so many trips around the sun and that if you don’t stay vocal about your “victimness” the world may forget how you’ve been hurt. Then stand on a mountain top and tell the world all day, every day, about your being a victim.

Recognize that a victim mentality is a “look at me” mentality. It is an “I am the center of the universe and you’d better know it” attitude. It can be very self centered and selfish. Or you can choose a different response.

Now, remember that I started this column with the statement “I believe you are a victim.” I repeat this here because the issue in this column is not whether or not each of us is a victim, it’s how we respond to being a victim.

Basically there are two ways to respond. One is to demand attention and make your life all about you. The other is to take your “victim status” and use it to benefit others. Either way you are still a victim, but you decide if it is about you or others.

I read an article on eleven ways to escape a victim mentality by Frank Sonnenberg. The first way was to “Own Your Life.” I think this is the first building block. Accept what has happened and don’t live a life of excuses pointing at others. I’m not saying you aren’t justified to live your life angry at others, just that it is a sad state to live the rest of your life in.

“Be Positive” is the next way. Focus on what you can do to make a difference, not on what others have done to you. You can only control yourself and a three foot circle around you. Don’t let others define you. You define yourself.

“Believe in Yourself.” If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Do things that foster confidence and self-esteem. You’ve been blessed with many gifts. Don’t waste them. You were given your gifts to be able to add value to the lives of others. You’re cheating others and yourself if you don’t do so.

“Look in the Mirror.” This is critical and the purpose is to avoid the “comparison” game. I believe our lives would be a totally different experience if we could look inward at what we can do rather than outward at what others have and we don’t. When we walk the comparison path, it leads to us resenting others and ourselves. Don’t go there.

“Count Your Many Blessings.” Whether you are happy with what you have or unhappy with what you don’t have, you have the same things. I believe you’ve been blessed beyond measure. Focus on what you have been blessed with.

“Create Good Habits.” Identify habits that pull you down. Change them. Your auto pilot mode should be a path that adds value to your life and the life of others, not one that leaves you in a bad place. The habits you choose will determine if your life is a good experience or a bad one.

“Hit Lots of Singles.” Start with baby steps. A victory might be a single healthy exchange with a person who you allow to drag you down. Just one day of pushing away the “look at me” mentality might be a success for you. You don’t have to climb a mountain in one day, just take a step or two.

“Meet Challenges Head On.” Prove you can overcome tough obstacles. Don’t run away. Face the obstacles directly and, one obstacle at a time, choose a healthy path through it. It will look better in the rear view mirror than losing sleep over it while you keep it on the path ahead.

“Forgive Yourself.” This is a critical step. Don’t beat yourself up for the past. If you have a role in becoming a victim, forgive yourself. Better yet, forgive the one responsible for you becoming a victim. We need to live life in the present, not the past.

“Let Grudges Go.” Don’t live your life in a “pay back” mode. It is a terrible world if you get up each morning focused on bringing others down. You can’t fly high if you are holding another down. Take all your negative feelings, put them in a wooden box, nail it shut with every nail you can find, then roll it off a cliff, never to return again. Let it go and then don’t ever go back there.

“Avoid Becoming Dependent.” Recognize you are responsible for you. Others can and will help you in conquering a victim mentality, but avoid being enslaved to another. Make sure you have the ability to make good choices yourself without having to rely solely on another.

My challenge to you today is to recognize you are a victim, but choose to not live the life of a victim. Understand your life is not about you. Whatever caused you to become a victim can be turned into a stepping stone to help others. You probably have a very powerful testimony that should be shared, but only to help others.

If the past is causing you to not accomplish what you need to be accomplishing today, let go of it. If the past is helping you help others, use it for this purpose.

Winners make the effort while losers make excuses. Avoid a life of excuses. You can lose the years you have left in your life by pointing outward and making excuses or you can own up to who you are and add value to the lives of others.

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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