As I see it, there are two types of people in this world, people who let things happen and people who make things happen. I teach this to students and train educators. I talk about overcoming being a victim (poor me) and becoming a victor (I’ve got this).
Here is what one deals with in the company of a victim: victims have a “poor me” attitude. Everyone gets breaks in life except them. They are consumed with negative self-talk and act accordingly. They portray themselves as unfortunate ones who demand to be rescued. They consume ones’ energy as they give examples of their endless tales of misfortune. It is as if they are living in an alternative universe followed by a black cloud. They are needy, clingy, oppressed, unfairly treated and usually misunderstood. They are depressed, self-centered, negative, seldom take responsibility for their plight and blame shift.
This may sound like a horrible way to exist, but to those who have this mindset, there are some innate benefits. From those who enable this mentality, victims get attention and validation. They feel they have little control over their circumstances. This is called “learned helplessness.”
I remember facilitating a training with teachers in a former booming manufacturing town that experienced factory closures due to outsourcing. Jobs left and so did those who could leave to find other sources of income. The ones that stayed whined and moaned about the situation but did not seek to get into a retraining program or find other work. They resigned themselves to living on public assistance, modeling this learned helplessness to their children. The teachers were concerned that outlining lofty goals and life mapping for the children of these families, would be waste of time. These young ones would be going home to “Victim-land” with no chance of breaking free.
I gave teachers an idea to break the cycle of learned helplessness that I learned listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer, author and motivational speaker. Dr. Dyer opined we should teach a song we all know in a different way. The song is Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I taught the educators to teach the students to sing. “Row, row, row YOUR boat”, Not your parent’s boat, not your cousin’s boat, not your friends’ boat, but YOUR boat. The chore is to row. Rowing is hard work. Take responsibility to row, row, row. The next line is, “Gently down the stream”. Be gentle with yourself. Build yourself up. Forgive those who have low expectations of you. Utilize self-care. Outline do-able goals and accomplish them because success breeds success. “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Be of good cheer. Stay positive. Live in gratitude, serve others. Create your dream. Go after it.
The educators loved this idea and said they would teach this. What was most moving was when I returned to this same town a year later to train a new cadre of educators, I heard the students singing this song in the hallway. I almost cried! Let’s work together to break the cycle of victimhood and help young people becomes victors! firstname.lastname@example.org; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
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