Back to the Basics of Self Empowerment – Victim or Creator?


A young boy I was mentoring years ago as part of a program run by The Citizens Foundation in Pakistan blurted in middle of a group pep talk, “You don’t understand sir, the whole world is against me; the teacher never gives me the marks that other students get for the same work.”

Being a mentor, I was a bit taken aback by that downbeat remark but I realized that I had to be sensitive to how strong emotions from other students might come into play. Before I even had a chance to wrap my head around the possible nuances of the comment, another boy cut in “But sir, he does not even try.”

Rewind one week to the orientation session; we all gathered in a small room already filled with a bunch of passionate boys and girls all wanting to make a real difference in the lives of less privileged students living on the outskirts of Karachi. An equally enthusiastic speaker adorned in crisp white shalwar kameez spoke about the Victim-Creator model of thinking. I was fascinated by how the speaker picked the best of David Emerald’s The Empowerment Dynamic and Stephen’s Karpman’s Drama Triangle and presented it in the most practical of terms. This learning had come to my rescue amid the impasse created by the boy’s comment and his classmate’s response.

The Victim

The victim mentality is characterized by a person considering him or herself a victim of others’ actions. As a result, a victim is always complaining, criticizing and blaming people and situations – including things that are in his or her control.

Although it is a learned personality trait, in its basic form, it is based on the internal defense mechanism that all humans are pre-wired with. We have a built-in bias to select and interpret evidence validating the essential belief, “I’m okay.” We all tend to look for external causes for our failures. Due to being hardwired with that essential belief, children are quick to learn this personality trait and get it ingrained in their psyche, making it a habitual behaviour.

The question is not whether there is actually an external cause of the pain and suffering that a person with victim mentality suffers. What matters is not what happens to them but what they do with it. The human soul is always looking to be at peace with itself. The way a victim seeks to achieve that peace is by blaming others for his or her sufferings and thereby sustaining the “I’m okay” belief.

The Creator

People with creator mindset go against the natural tendency that humans are born with. For them, their own behaviour is the cause of what happens to them. They are result-oriented and look at the end-state and big picture in any situation. For creators, problems take the form of challenges.

They understand the nature of problems and the role of others in creating them, but instead of considering themselves as victims, they look inwardly for a way to solve the problems. They realize that problems will occur due to causes not in their control and that they will always have a choice. The choice they make is to adjust their behaviour to deal with what caused the problem, even if it is something external to them.

So rather than saying, “the problem occurred due to your actions,” a creator will think, “what is it that I can do to influence your actions to solve the problem.”

The Choice

Granted that we do not have a choice when it comes to other people’s behaviours or things that happen outside of our realm of control, but we always have a choice of what we do with it in our minds.

The choice is simply this: do we want to relinquish the power of our own thoughts to others by letting them influence our thinking, and hence; actions, or do we want to empower ourselves and let only our own thoughts influence our actions. This basic choice underpins all human reactions to adversities. It makes the circumstance irrelevant and the nature of adversity not the only significant factor in your decision on how to react.

As human experience has shown, trying to achieve inner peace by blaming others and validating the essential belief is only an illusion. Accepting in our minds that others control our actions and the outcomes of those actions, makes the inner peace unachievable in the long run. Victim mindset leads to depression, anxiety and leaned helplessness, adversely effecting our behaviours and serving to reinforce the victim mindset.

By being consciously aware of this trap, our mind learns to raise an alarm every time we are falling prey to the victim mindset. As a result, we look for the best ways to respond to the challenge in order to minimize its negatives effects or to even convert it into an opportunity. The solution to victim mindset is taking full responsibility for our actions and behaviours, regardless of the circumstances. When faced with a challenge, there is always something you can do, something you can change.

Since, victimhood is contagious, it is important to be wary of situations and people that can lead you back to it. It takes a constant dose of reminders that you have a choice. However justified you may think being a victim is, you have a choice to feel empowered and change the very situation that caused you to think of yourself as a victim.

Notwithstanding the rudimentary nature of this behavioural mechanism, I chose to explain the victim-creator model to the group of students to make them understand the inner workings of their young minds and to open their hearts to the world of empowerment. In retrospect, I am so glad I was able to convert some victims to creators.

Source by Majid Kazmi

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