Excuse Me

When we give excuses to others for our actions or inactions we make excuses for ourselves to act in ways we know are not good for us or others.

When we see ourselves as “victims” we give ourselves perpetual excuses.

When we treat others as “victims” we make excuses for them and we do them no favors.

Life Is Hard, But

Sometimes life is really hard.

When we lose someone we love, get a debilitating or terminal illness, experience financial crisis, see someone we care about suffering, or are subject to physical or emotional abuse, it feels awful. At times it can be so overwhelming that we do not see a way through.

It’s normal to feel like our issues or problems are insurmountable, or even like our troubles are worse than the troubles of others around us. That’s because we haven’t overcome that adversity yet. And it doesn’t help that everyone else’s lives seem comparatively trouble free or easy.

But when I feel myself slipping into that mindset, it helps a lot to remember two things: One, that most people don’t air their dirty laundry and don’t bemoan their troubles (that’s a good thing). And two, that there are a lot of people in the world who have overcome a lot more than I have to deal with and have done a lot more with their lives. These things give me hope and inspiration. If they can do it, I should be able to.

We have a choice when faced with adversity. We can decide to look at adversity as though it’s worse than others’ adversity or as though it’s just a normal part of life and shouldn’t detract from focusing on all the other great stuff life has to offer, far outweighing the bad.

It is our choice, and only our choice.

It makes all the difference.

How We Can Help

Religion, like politics, can be divisive because most of us already have our minds made up.

Here at Not A Victim, I will not tell anyone what to believe about God and will not advocate for or against political candidates or agendas. Our goal is to help people of all religious and political stripes see how prevalent and destructive the victim mentality is, and how to avoid fostering or enabling the victim mentality in others or ourselves. But it’s not my style to “avoid” anything that might evoke religious or political discussions. We simply require that any discussion stay positive and not devolve into ad hominem (personal attacks or name-calling*).

The current state of divisiveness all around us comes from separating people by all sorts of classifications (religions, political parties, classes of wealth, races, sexes, orientations, ages, etc.).

It’s easy to see the “other side” as the cause of our problems and cultural problems. I am guilty of this more often than I care to admit. What’s really hard is to see people with differing beliefs about religion or the best political solution as “us.” But it used to be easier when we weren’t as divided, so we know it can be better.

When we think of people who believe differently as “them” it’s harder to love them. When we embrace people as “us,” it’s a lot easier to love and forgive them, and it’s harder to blame them.

People will always have differing opinions, but if we make a conscious effort to think of those who believe differently as “us” notwithstanding, we find it’s easier to love them. And we find it’s a lot harder to blame them.

Both are even better for “us” than it is for “them.”

*This parenthetical brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department

That’s Fair

The second component of “victimism” is fairness obsession (sometimes that manifests in an obsession with unfairness). It may be the trickiest element to wrap our heads around. We focus so much attention and effort on fairness; and who can be against fairness, right?

Working toward the equal protection of rights or wanting to see all people treated without harm are worthy and admirable goals. But even though we want things to be fair, we live in an imperfect world where life simply is not fair.

Is it fair that some are born with super-intelligence, brilliant singing voices, movie-star-good-looks, and amazing athletic prowess while the rest of us are pretty average? Is it fair that some are born with painful or debilitating diseases, while the rest of us lead fairly normal lives?

The good news is that life doesn’t have to be fair to be absolutely wonderful and fulfilling! We don’t have the same wealth as the Rockefellers, but we can be just as happy, if not happier. We can’t fly but we don’t obsess over the fact that birds have wings and we don’t have them.

Why would we obsess over other inequities in this crazy world that will always be unfair? What if we could all find happiness without comparing ourselves to others, or to our expectations of “fairness?”

Stay tuned.

Compared To What?

There are four components to what I call “victimism” (which is basically the victim mentality): (i) comparing, (ii) fairness obsession, (iii) blaming, and (iv) finding comfort in woundedness.

We humans all compare ourselves to other humans. To some degree, we can’t help but compare; it’s part of our social nature. But we can certainly choose who we compare ourselves to.

If we choose to compare with people who we think have more, it’s easy to feel that things are not “fair,” and it’s easy to feel a little bit envious.

But if we choose to compare with people who have less, we begin to see that life is a lot more fair for us than it is for millions, even billions, of people around the world. And then the reasons for being obsessed with fairness (or “unfairness”), for blaming, and for feeling wounded start to dissipate rather quickly.

The choice is entirely ours.

Labels – Good or Bad?

Why would we ever define ourselves by our adversity?

I almost never describe myself as “a quadriplegic.” My disability doesn’t define me. But it’s my most distinguishing characteristic, so it’s absolutely fine if someone describes me that way or as “the disabled guy.” When it’s appropriate, I’ll say “guy in a wheelchair,” “paralyzed guy,” or on rare occasion “guy with quadriplegia.”

Isn’t it much more productive and happier to define ourselves by the positive things we bring to the world?

How do you think other people perceive you if you primarily describe yourself (or see yourself) as a: widow/widower, diabetic, paraplegic, amputee, convict, divorcee, minority (of any kind), alcoholic/addict,  cancer (or other)-patient, or an abuse (or other)-victim?

Could your perspective on the world be improved by describing yourself foremostly to others (and to yourself) as something you do to add to others’ lives  or do for others, as a: parent/grandparent, spouse, volunteer, coach, mentor, employer, salesperson, homemaker, doctor, lawyer, expert, consultant, writer, manager, counselor, or confidant?

I still believe in the timeless “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” (more later on my choice to never be offended), but words (labels) can and do affect how we see ourselves and how people perceive us. Choosing to define and describe yourself by the positive things you do, rather than the negative things that happen to you, can bring huge positive results.

Why Are We Here?

What if we could improve the world by truly helping others? What if by slightly modifying how we see and interact with the world around us we could reduce despair, disenfranchisement, and the often desperate acts that can result from feeling hopeless?

What would it feel like if we could truly make a difference in others’ lives by pushing back against the darkness that accompanies feeling like life isn’t fair or that we are “victims?”

Because of social and political narratives, advertiser messages, and other influences, the victim mentality is more prevalent than ever and it’s on the rise.

We are here—on this site—to share, daily, a little positive perspective from multiple sources on how we can stop enabling the victim mentality in others, and how we can prevent our own thoughts that we may be continual “victims” from creeping into our perspectives.

Surf around as the website expands, comment on posts, offer your own or others’ stories of overcoming or avoiding the victim mentality, and sign up for the short daily emails of positive perspectives on handling the adversity that every life faces.

We welcome you and we hope you’ll be inspired in your own life while providing inspiration in the lives of people around you.