Recently, Lino and I had a lengthy conversation about our current situation and where we’d like to be in 5 to 10 years. During that conversation, the topic of victim mentality came up. As it turns out, I’ve got a lot to say about this topic. I find victim mentality to be extremely detrimental to your overall sense of well being. Furthermore, from a more global perspective, it perpetuates stagnation and builds resentment towards other members of society. There’s no room in my life for victim mentality and there shouldn’t be any room in yours either. Here’s why:
What is victim mentality?
First of all, let’s define our term. When I am talking about victim mentality, I am referring to the attitude that “life happens to you.” From a clinical perspective, it’s called an external locus of control. It’s the belief that things happen in life that we have no control over and we all just have to buckle down and defend ourselves from the onslaught of destruction. It’s where we get the popular saying “victim of circumstance.”
Conversely, an internal locus of control is the idea that we have the power to “make life happen.” It’s the belief that no matter what happens in life, we have the ability to guide life where we want it to be simply by the way we choose to handle those situations. It’s virtually impossible to be a victim if this is your perception of reality.
Why is it important?
When you feel like a victim of your circumstance, you are completely helpless to what life throws at you. You cannot control what happens to you. Whats more, you feel like you can only defend against whatever fate has thrown your way. It’s a completely helpless and rotten feeling. You can never make any progress anywhere and you become fearful of what the future holds.
It also builds resentment towards others. For example, if nobody has any power over the things that happen to them and all you have is fate, then it’s very unfair to see others succeed while you seem to keep getting kicked in the teeth. Who wouldn’t be jealous and resentful of someone else who continues to excel in life while you were dealt a shitty lot in life?
However, the other option is to flat out refuse to buy into victim mentality. What if your perception was “you make life happen?” That means that no matter what life throws your way, you no longer have to be on the defensive. You get to be on the offensive. You get the freedom to choose how to handle and respond to that situation or circumstance.
This puts the ball completely back into your court. It’s a very powerful feeling and it also helps keep your spirits high during times of hardship. It’s motivating. It helps you create opportunities and helps you persevere when you think you may be at your limit. You will be on fire. No matter what happens, no matter who tries to stand in your way, nothing will be able to stop you.
I don’t know about you, but that seems worth it to me.
So, what does it matter?
Unfortunately, many people in today’s society have victim mentality. Not only is it harmful to your own mood and self growth, but it’s damaging for those around you and the greater society.
Have you ever heard that old saying, “those of a feather flock together?” Well, it’s entirely true. When you feel like a victim, you surround yourself with others who are also “victims.” You wallow in your own misery and commiserate together your shitty lot in life. You end up making absolutely no progress towards anything productive.
Victim mentality stops you from creating opportunities in life where you can succeed. You just end up sitting around waiting for things to fall into your lap and getting upset and angry when they don’t.
What’s worse, you start resenting others for having what you don’t. You aim all your energy towards hating and dividing yourself from those around you. You end up hating those who refuse to see the world as a cold, cruel, unjust pit of existence. In turn, those other people will also flock with their peers who refuse to be victims and before you know it, you have large masses of people who are not only polarized in their thinking, but emotionally driven to squash the other side.
In short, we end up with group politics and a society of people who think everyone else owes them something in return for their suffering. That is not the world I want to leave behind for my children. What scares me most, however, is that this is exactly the world we are leaving for them.
What do we do about it?
So, I say it’s time to stop. You can stop too. You can actively choose to not partake of victim mentality.
Everyone suffers in life at some point or another. There is no such thing as a life without some type of suffering. Without suffering, there would be no contentment or pleasure. However, that doesn’t mean you are helpless when suffering comes your way. Fight it.
You can start with a past event, something small, and evaluate the situation. Look for ways in which you could have done something different to change the outcome of the situation. That is not to say that a bad situation would have instantly been wonderful, because not every situation is going to turn out positive for you. However, it will still allow you to have a modicum of control over how things turned out. If anything, you have the control to change your response to it.
Once you’ve done that a few times, start applying this to your present situations. Think about how your actions or thoughts about something can change the situation. Stop looking for what others can do to make things better and look for what you can do to make things better. Take responsibility and don’t give that to someone else!
Make this a habit. This will help you to be successful in your own life. It will also teach you children that although life includes suffering, there will never be something that you cannot overcome. It strengthens them.
Let’s face it. There is going to be bad things that happen to good people. Nothing you can do will ever stop that. Life will have suffering. However, you don’t have to live with victim mentality. You can fight this and, by doing so, persevere through whatever lemon life has in store. If you don’t, you are actively deciding to take root right where you are and you will never progress beyond where you stand today. So, be stubborn! Refuse to give up and by the very nature of that you will teach those around you to do the same!
This, folks, is the only way we can pull ourselves out of this hole we are digging. Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment below!