Copyright (c) 2006 Rob Marshall
I heard a story about a man who was suing his local cable TV company. He was claiming that his wife and children were fat, lazy, and unmotivated and the cable company was to blame. In the lawsuit he claimed that he had tried to cancel his cable TV, but that the company had continued to provide him with the service.
This man probably felt helpless because his TV was running, and ruining, his life. He believed that if he could just find someone else to blame, he could cash in on the American dream of “wealth by lawsuit.”
The problem was that this man had chosen to be a victim. He had turned control of his life over to someone else, making death, taxes, failure, and disappointment the only sure things in his life.
Life is all about the choices we make. Circumstances and problems happen in everyone’s life, and while some people choose to rise above their circumstances and become successful in the process, most people choose to be victims. Do you recognize these telltale signs of a victim?
Victims are looking for someone to blame.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have spent too much time looking for someone to blame for my problems. But what I need to do is accept responsibility for the choices I make and the consequences that come from those choices.
It’s actually human nature to shift the blame, and it all started in the Garden of Eden. When God confronted Adam about eating the forbidden fruit, Adam immediately told God, “But, it was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit!” Ever since that time, human beings have tried to blame anything and everything, including God, when faced with the consequences of their bad choices.
Bad things will happen to us, but we have to accept that decisions we made were what put us in the wrong place at the wrong time. Circumstances beyond our control will confront us, but we still choose how we’re going to react to them. By accepting responsibility for everything in our lives, we take control of our lives.
Victims complain about everything.
From the weather to the government; from their spouses, parents, and bosses to their bad hair days, victims always have something to complain about. But that’s usually where it stops. They complain, but they don’t do anything else. So here’s a suggestion all of us should try: Stop complaining and do something!
When we want to change things in our lives, we have to stop giving our energy to things that don’t help, and complaining is at the top of the list of time and energy wasters. Complaining rarely, if ever, helps a situation. And even in those rare times when it does, there are other, more effective ways to change things.
Victims can’t forgive and forget.
Because a victim spends his or her life looking for other people to blame, it becomes impossible for the victim to forgive anyone. Victims falsely believe that other people have ruined their lives and it is their divine right to hold a grudge.
As someone once said, refusing to forgive someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. We only hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive. And we don’t forgive people because we’re doing them a favor; we forgive them because it starts the healing process in us. No matter what other people do, we benefit when we forgive them.
Victims can’t bounce back.
A mark of a champion athlete is their ability to bounce back from adversity. The mark of a victim is to look for someone to blame, start complaining to everyone within hearing range, and to enjoy their failures for as long as possible. And, yes, I did say that they enjoy failing.
By definition, a victim has to be a failure. Someone who bounces back and becomes successful in spite of repeated failures and setbacks can’t possibly be a victim. The ability to bounce back comes from the belief that we have some control over our lives and we can make the best of every situation.
Victims can’t succeed.
While it may be possible to be a “successful victim,” in other words a person who succeeds at being a victim, it’s not possible to be a victim that is successful. The main reason is that victims are waiting for someone else to fix their problems and no one is going to do that for them.
Because they have learned to be helpless, they don’t have clear dreams for their lives, they don’t believe their lives will ever get better, and they never take action. Those who become successful do have dreams, they do believe that they can make their lives better, and they take action.
The bottom-line is: If you want to be successful, don’t be a victim.