“To complain is always non-acceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action, or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”
Eckhart Tolle (Author, The Power Of Now)
“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.”
Richard Bach (Author, Jonathan Livingston Seagull)
“I think it’s unfair, but they have the right as fallible, screwed-up humans to be unfair; that’s the human condition.”
Albert Ellis (American Psychologist)
We all know someone who does this.
They play the victim.
All the time.
These are the people that whine about how the world is against them.
All the time.
They have a list of excuses for why they aren’t getting what they want out of life.
And, a longer list of excuses of why they can’t do anything about it.
It’s out of their hands.
It’s easy to spot someone locked into victim stance.
And they’re an energy drain to be around.
People who adopt a victim mentality, do so to avoid taking responsibility for their life.
As easy as it is to criticize those mired in a victim mindset… it’s easier than you think to sink into one yourself.
Sure, you think you’re immune…
But, one bad thing happens… and then another… and then another. Life’s pile-up of cruel jokes can hit like a storm.
If you haven’t experienced this yet, you’re either still in adolescence or you’re living in a bubble atop a mountain in some fairytale.
Because, for most people, bad things happen.
Unfair things happen.
And, it’s really easy to start feeling sorry for yourself.
It starts with a vent to your best friend about how unfair your boss is, how unfair the bank is, or how unfair life is.
You feed it with every sulking thought that reinforces how helpless you are in your own life.
The negativity of this state breeds until you’ve become one of “them”.
You’re no longer moving forward in your life.
You’re not longer optimistic about your future.
And, you’re sitting around waiting for someone to feel sorry for you, and rescue you from the pit of your own self-despair.
There isn’t a more pathetic picture than this.
The truth is, you must guard yourself against playing the victim, and you must not allow others to play the victim against you.
In life, everyone is the victim of something, but not everyone chooses to behave with a victim mentality.
Those who do choose to be a victim, end up living angrier, more selfish, and more entitled lives than those who refuse to be a victim.
Why Leaders Reject A Victim Mentality
A Stanford University study reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that playing the victim leads to a sense of entitlement and to selfish behavior.
In one experiment, participants who were asked to remember a time when their lives were unfair were more likely to refuse helping someone complete a simple task, than participants who were asked to recall a time when they were bored.
The same paper went on to review a collection of studies showing that all the things that make someone feel wronged — including disrespect, unequal treatment, disproportional income, diagnosis of a disease, and an unhappy childhood — make people feel more entitled to special treatment.
To right the perceived wrongdoings, people with victim mentality take on selfish behaviors in attempt to prevent negative outcomes, as reported in this study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The selfish behavior coincided with an attitude of entitlement in these experiments, that not only increased conflict at the workplace, but also contributed to depressive states and a lack of citizenship, says a study out of the Journal of Organizational Behavior.
The more someone feels attached to a victim mentality, the more entitled and selfish they become, the more depressed they feel, the more they indulge in negative states, and the cycle perpetuates.
Victim mentality is infectious, and leads others into manipulating from the same state of woe to get what they want.
So, while you might think it’s virtuous to allow others to play the victim, or to play the victim in your own life, in reality, it’s a vice.
Why Victim Mentality Doesn’t Get You What You Want.
A victim mentality makes people weak, not strong.
It makes you passive and full of recycled negative emotions.
It makes others needy and manipulative.
It makes you (and others) less able to handle adversity in the future.
And, it creates toxic emotions that cripple you from moving forward in a purposeful life.
The emotions associated with a victim mentality are a colossal waste of time and energy.
Here’s why leaders reject victim mentality…
1. Victimhood makes you angry.
Look — life is unfair.
It’s a cliché, but it’s real.
Life doesn’t owe you (or anyone else) fairness.
Fairness and justice are subjective, anyway.
So, when bad things or bad people happen to you, you have a choice.
You can regroup and relaunch, with knowledge and greater resilience to protect yourself in the future…
…or you can wallow.
You can talk for days about how mad you are.
How right you are.
How crappy your perpetrator is.
How lousy everyone is.
But, for what?
Do you feel better venting incessantly about the inequalities in your life?
You feel a rush, but you don’t feel better.
You feel hurt, so you vent. And as you vent, you get angry. And the angrier you get, the more energy you get, that you might be silly enough to believe is empowerment.
It’s not empowerment.
You’re focusing on the problem so much, that you’re unable to see solutions.
Venters aren’t problem-solvers.
They just like getting mad so much, they become addicted to the charge they get from it.
If you’re a venter, indignation rules, and soon your whole life is about the injustices you have suffered.
You don’t accept responsibility, and you stop growing.
If everything is someone else’s fault, and you’re blameless and have no control over your life or outcomes, you might as well give up.
You’re a victim of your own weak mind. No one else.
Things are not always going to work out in your favor — get over it.
Stop wasting time and energy on being angry about it. Stop talking about it, and start redirecting that energy to finding solutions that will move you through it.
Allow it to make you better, not bitter.
2. Victimhood makes you selfish.
Because victim mentality reinforces the myth that you deserve to have things work in your favor.
All the time.
And, that everything is about you.
What you want.
What you don’t want.
Like the princess and the pea — if it’s not perfect, heads will roll.
Or, at least you’ll throw a big diaper baby tantrum.
Not everything is about you.
Now, I get it… it would be nice if everything was.
If only being a good person and working hard was all that mattered in order for life to fall into place, as envisioned through the window of your 8-year old imagination.
But, in contrast, reality is a stark awakening for most people.
The more you focus on yourself, the more you miss out on everything else.
Not just the people around you, and their needs.
But really, any perspective that comes from a wide angle lens beyond the narrowness of yourself.
Feeling like a victim shrinks your perspective, and your world.
All you do is focus on yourself, and the wild thoughts you have yielded control over.
Snap out of it.
You’re missing the value of learning from the lesson.
You’re missing the opportunity to get better… and stronger.
You might think you’re tuning in and connecting to what you think will make you feel better… but really, you have blinders on to everything else going on around you.
And, in your pit of selfish despair, you have relinquished all your power and become stagnant and miserable.
3. Victimhood makes you entitled.
When you’re stuck in victim mode, you feel like you deserve better.
And, maybe you do.
But, you become obsessed with what you “deserve”.
As if fairness and justice are owed to you, by nature of being a human being.
In the utopia of this delusion, that might be true.
In reality, it’s far from true.
You teach people how to treat you.
Sure, sometimes someone throws you a curve ball and takes advantage of you.
Sometimes, someone is outright mean, despite your well-set boundaries.
Sometimes, things just happen that are beyond your control.
It doesn’t mean you deserve bad things to happen to you.
But, being a good person doesn’t mean that they won’t.
Expect that you’ll experience unfairness.
Wounded ego and hurt feelings.
And when it does, stop magnifying it into epic proportions.
Stop looking for constant validation that you don’t deserve the bad things that have happened to you.
Placating head-patting for your underlying insecurities and neediness.
Don’t tolerate this in yourself — don’t tolerate it in others.
Let the grudges go and find power in your ability to choose how you react.
Victim or victor.
Powerless or powerful.
You can choose to be a weakling in your life, while you wait for a line-up of, “Aw, poor you” sentiments.
But, you won’t go anywhere in your life if you allow this mindset to persist.
It will be the sabotaging reality of your own weakness in this area that holds you back from every goal that matters.
It will be the one thing that keeps you from being a leader in every area of your life.
Realize that everyone has had this experience and the same emotions that you’re feeling. Realize too, that you have the power to choose how to respond to every event in your life. You can harness your emotions and dictate your behaviors. Become the leader in your life by refusing to waste time seeking sympathy and attention. Do the personal growth needed so that you don’t need validation from others, constant reassurance, and hand-holding. You’re not a child. Take control of your life by seeking growth and building resilience to move forward to your goals.
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