I previously mentioned that a victim mentality a sense of being powerless to change or overcome what has happened or is happening within our lives. It’s feeling trapped by past experiences that appear to be holding us down. We can overcome this sense of hopelessness by taking control of our thoughts. Here are six steps I believe may be useful to avoid a victim mentality:
1. Stop Defining Yourself by Past Experiences
It has become somewhat of a badge of honor today for people to define themselves by negative experiences from their past. Instead of learning from the experience and moving on, the experience becomes who they are. For instance, I recall having students in my classes proudly referring to themselves as "victims" of hurricane Katrina 10 years after the devastating impact of the storm in New Orleans. I would ask them why they are still identifying themselves by the Katrina catastrophe. They were now established in a new city, working towards earning a college degree, and building a new career, but still feeling trapped by the Katrina experience. I encouraged them to embrace the lessons learned from Katrina and let the experience go. It’s possible to redefine ourselves again and again, once we decide to leave the past behind.
2. Change Your Perspective
I strongly believe that life experiences, opportunities, and living environment all shape our perspective in how we see ourselves in the world. These factors determine whether we see ourselves as going somewhere or as being stuck in the same old place. If you see your situation as hopeless it’s very unlikely you will put forth any effort to change the current circumstance. Regardless of what did or did not happen to us or where we got started in life, we have the power to change the situation by first changing our thoughts. Growing up in a small town in southeast Georgia, reading positive information helped to change my thinking about what I could accomplish in life. From my early teens, I started to read self improvement books and began to believe that I alone controlled my own destiny. My perspective changed as I began to look at everyday as a new beginning with unlimited possibilities and to not be afraid to try new things.
3. Don't Embrace Negative Labels
Society tends to place labels on people to define their place or circumstance in the world. Unfortunately, too many of us readily accept these labels without thinking about what they mean and do to our self-worth as human beings. For instance, there are terms such as "the disadvantaged", "at-risk", "poor", "ex-offender", and "minority" which all contribute to a less than mindset and lock us into a state of mind of not being good enough. Reject these labels because they have a psychological effect on our behavior and how we see ourselves. Refuse to respond or use these labels to refer to yourself. We are what we answer to. You have the right to create your own brand. Protect your mind against negative thoughts that devalue your self-worth.
4. Shift the Conversation to Where You are Going
If you made it through the tough times, you now have an opportunity to map out a new course of action for success. Don't waste your time discussing past mistakes and negative experiences in your life. Focus on what lies before you with the belief that you can overcome and move beyond them. When approached about what was or who you use to be, tell the person who started the conversation that you would much rather discuss where you are going than what you left behind. The lowest point in our lives should not dictate who we are in the present. Make it a habit not to get into conversations about past mistakes and shortcomings other than to use them as teaching points.
5. Take Advantage of Opportunities Around You
It’s important to use what we have until we can do better. If we look around us, there are hidden opportunities that can be used to improve our lives. The universe has a way of supplying what we need to change our situations if we would only be open to new possibilities with uncertainty of the outcome. For example, I went all the way through college from undergraduate to ultimately earning a doctoral degree without ever paying more than $150 for college tuition and never applying to a student loan. It all started with the simple mailing of an ROTC promotional post card from Ebony magazine that resulted in me earning a three-year full scholarship. I had absolutely no experience or previously involvement with an ROTC program in high school. The ROTC card was my ticket to a free college education. Every opportunity is a piece of the puzzle to achieve success.
6. Celebrate Every One Your Accomplishments
Changing situations in our lives usually require a combination of large and small victories. Unfortunately, it takes more than one leap to turn our lives around. Therefore, we must express appreciation for each victory because it helps us to gain self-confidence as we strive to take control of our own destiny. Soon you will begin to believe that there is nothing you cannot accomplish. Every time you have a thought of why you “can’t” do something, counter it with a thought of “yes I can”. See yourself as someone who gets things done. This will keep you energized and help you create a new vision of yourself.
A victim mentality will only prevent us from becoming the person we desire to become. It’s our choice to live life as a victim or use the negative experiences as stepping stones for our personal growth and development. I encourage you to let go of the feeling of powerless and hopelessness that is holding you back from reaching your destiny. Please share this blog with at least 10 other people that you think would benefit from this discussion.
Written by Dr. RLKight for Mind Power Solutions at www.mindpowersolutions.com