I Am Not A Victim

I have wanted to scream this out loud for a long time: I am so sick of all the victim thinking!!!

On some days I'll have a Pity Party and be the only guest invited. I suffer from the self-imposed "It's not fair!" mentality. It's a belief that hurts me. Here's how it goes: I return phone calls. Why don't others call me back!? IT'S NOT FAIR! Whine! I respond to all emails (go ahead, email me). But I send emails that seem to go into a black hole. Why don't people respond to emails!? IT'S NOT FAIR! Whine, whine!! Why can't I get on Oprah!? IT'S NOT FAIR! Whine, whine, whine!!! The reality is, stuff happens.

People let people down, balls gets dropped, mistakes happen, promises are broken, and as the country music song says, "Circumstances conspire to construct my present." And often those circumstances are out of my control. But I will not be a victim. But what about venting? Am I playing victim when I vent? Is it sometimes okay to lament, complain, and verbally express frustrations, disappointments, and anger? Well, sure.

But when does it become victim thinking? Are these people victims? What do you think? The college student who disrupts a political speech and is tasered by campus security? (And is now probably suing someone.) Workers laid off by an automobile manufacturer in an ever-changing competitive global economy? The difficult-to-be-with individual who has few, if, any friends? Homeowners who went deeply into debt for a home far too big for their income at the high end of a housing market at extremely low interest rates with risky adjustable rate mortgages and are now battling foreclosure? The mom or dad who gets no help around the house, so does all the chores themselves? U.S. consumers who pay $3 or more for a gallon of gasoline? The person who chooses a giving/helping/teaching career, but then struggles to pay the bills? Employees who now have to share in their health care costs? An author/speaker who got so far off track "day trading" overpriced, volatile tech stocks in 2000 and lost so much money that he had to ask his wife, Karen, to forgive him!? Ah, yes, that'd be me. And she did. A tremendous amount of victim thinking (and absolutely no personal accountability) is promoted by the media. It's all about ratings and we seem fascinated with stories of hardship. It's the same now as 15 years ago.

I remember in the early 1990s as a recession hit, NBC Nightly News ran a dramatic piece about a bank manager, married with six kids, who'd lost his job. Certainly a tough moment for this family, but the portrayal left the viewer feeling like the Big Bad Bank had failed him and he was a victim. Now he can't feed his family! the reporter told us. Well, truth is like surgery—it hurts but it heals. And the only way for any of us to eradicate the victim disease is to tell ourselves truth, even when it hurts. And the truth is, no employer is responsible for a couple choosing to have six children. In QBQ! we tell a story about a fella who transitioned from the military, where he learned to say NO EXCUSES!, to civilian life and commercial sales.

After going through our "Personal Accountability and the QBQ!" training, he realized he had been asking, "Why are our prices so high?" "When will we get new products to sell?" and "Why don't I get more support?" He emailed me saying, "John, I just realized that only a few short years out of the military, I have become what I hate the most: a victim." I emailed him back. I let him know I understood. Feel free to email me giving your opinion of where the line is between healthy venting/sad situations and victim thinking.

Happy to have your input. But first, a thought, in the form of a question: When I play victim, who am I serving? I believe the "right" answer is NOBODY. Not even myself. Kevin Brown, an extraordinary thinker and speaker out of Nashville, recently told me this: "John, life is fair. Bad things happen to everybody." Kevin, thanks for sharing truth with me. I'll remember that. And I'll remember this, too, and scream it out loud: I am not a victim!

By John G. Miller Author of QBQ! and Flipping the Switch
Edited by Kristin Lindeen


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