What is the one piece of advice that everyone should take in the area of personal development? That one thing they can do to make a big difference? My advice is to stop being a victim. This has become so cliché that we ignore it and don’t really dig deep into what it means. We say it without thinking about it.
A victim compels others to rescue him by making them hostage to his alleged circumstances. He drags them into the abyss of his own making? Did I say of his own making? Yes, I did. No matter what your circumstances, you are responsible for your actions from this point forward. Where you are now is a result of your previous decisions and actions. Regardless of what has happened in the past however, you have to power to change your situation now.
When you play the victim and expect others to come to your rescue, you are shutting yourself off from that tremendous power YOU have to make a difference. You are creating a self-limiting environment for yourself. You are failing to be 100% responsible.
Do I deny the reality of circumstances good and bad? No, but I do deny the benefit when you or I or anyone else focuses on them from a victim’s perspective. For every whine, somebody has a better case somewhere else. No matter what has happened to you, something worse has happened to someone else. If you demand people focus on victimhood, you owe it to others less fortunate to focus on them and not yourself. You’ll never win this losing battle of being the biggest victim.
Every minute you spend playing the victim, is a minute you spend not doing something about it. Aside from that, nobody else wants to hear it. You are just spreading the misery unnecessarily.
Don’t Enable Victimhood in Others
I’m pained by what I see as the suffering of others. But if I act differently and incorrectly because of that feeling, then I am enabling their victimhood. When I do anything to encourage a victim attitude, then I’m enabling that which I’m preaching against.
This is hard to do. There is a tendency to think with our emotions and our compassion and I’m am often guilty of this myself. It’s a lot easier to throw money at someone than it is to figure out a way to encourage them to help themselves. Sometimes money is the easy way out. We feel all puffed up now that we have done our civic duty and we can quickly get back to focusing on ourselves.
There is a fine line and a difficult line for you to walk when you are helping others. You can help in a way which encourages them to take responsibility for themselves, or you can help in a way which enables and encourages the problem. When somebody falls down you can pick them up or encourage them to get up themselves. Your tender heart may encourage you to go to far. You must resist the temptation because you are not helping, you are hurting.
Most parents realize that they can go to far in protecting their children from the harsh lessons of life. As a parent I struggled with this too. Your heart tugs on you in an instinctual reaction that your mind knows is a mistake. Just because it makes you feel good for a moment, doesn’t mean you have helped.
Hurricane Katrina was a study in victims and owners. On the one hand you had the New Orleans TV crowd victims. They were constantly on TV with their hands out. They were demanding that somebody do something. Years later they are still at the same old whine and are still the same victims.
On the other hand you had the owners. These are the people who quietly went about owning their own situation. I saw people who almost immediately began picking up and rebuilding. This was in stark contrast to those who would go on TV and ask when somebody was going to do something. In fact they were demanding that somebody do something.
What Can You Do?
Clean up your own situation first. Refuse to be a victim to anything at anytime. Take immediate and massive action to do something for yourself. You will be amazed at how many people show up with unsolicited help.
Secondly, ignore the perpetual victims. Quietly and respectfully encourage them to help themselves. Show them by example a way out. Whatever you do, don’t enable their victimhood. Whatever you feel in your heart, do the right thing.
Go back to the example of Katrina. Turn off the TV and walk right by the demanding victim with his hand out. Find the owner who is cleaning up the mess or rebuilding. Pick up a trash bag or a hammer.
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