“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” Steve Maraboli
“It is all my fault.”
Those are 5 words that we really don’t like to say. I’d much rather blame someone else for my problems. Accepting that my biggest problem is the guy staring back at me in the mirror is uncomfortable and a little painful.
It’s much easier to blame my nasty boss who refused to give me a raise or the tough job market or that lemon car that “forced” me to have to buy a new one or any of a host of other circumstances that were beyond our control. And so we go through life wishing for something better but convinced that the world is conspiring against us.
In reality, while occasionally things happen that we completely beyond our control, most often the things that cause us hardship were things we could have avoided. It might have meant doing something we didn’t really want to do, but we did have options.
The good news is the fact that if it is your fault, that is actually a good thing, and here is why:
1. It means there is hope
If the world is conspiring against you and there is literally nothing you can do about it, then life is hopeless. Barring getting that lucky winning lottery ticket or the big inheritance from my long lost uncle, I’m just destined to financial failure.
But if I admit that my problems may have been at least to some degree my fault, then that means there is something I can do about it. If I learn to make better choices I can turn my situation around. I’m not waiting for someone else to rescue me; I have the ability to change my life. There is real hope in that!
2. It is an opportunity to learn
If I admit my problems were my own doing, then I have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I can improve. I can change the behaviors that got me where I am by learning new skills. But if I am simply a victim of circumstance there is nothing to learn and no chance to improve myself.
3. Without change even if someone rescues me I’ll just end up in the same position.
If I am simply a victim and my only hope is for some one or some thing to bail me out, and the miraculous does happen, what are the chances my life is really changed? If there is no change in what got me into financial trouble, then any miracles are only temporary.
I think this is one reason that so often lottery winners end up losing it all in a few years. While the winnings may provide them a temporary taste of prosperity, without changing behaviors they slowly slip back into their old habits. Those habits are what left them in a position of need and those habits will gradually lead them back to poverty.
It is only when I admit my errors, learn from them, and change the behaviors that led me to financial struggles that I have hope of living a better life.
Examine yourself (even if it hurts)
While it might be easier to blame some else for your problems, when you do that you are also giving up control of your future. By accepting the responsibility for where you are, you open the door to hope, growth, and a better future.
If you are struggling financially, I urge you to take some time and really look at your past decisions as honestly and unemotionally as possible. Understand that is a difficult thing to do. Consider where your problems stem from. Yes, your car was about to die and you did need to get another one, but did you really need that $40,000 SUV because it was safer, ir would a $10,000 used one have sufficed just as well. Are there some stores that you can’t walk in to without walking out with 3 bags of stuff? Why do you have trouble saying no to yourself? Is it because you need more self discipline? Or perhaps you are medicating some other hurt with spending?
There are many ways that we get ourselves in trouble. Some are obviously our fault, others maybe less so. Without taking the time to reflect though on what part we have played in our difficulties regardless of how painful and uncomfortable that may be, we won’t have the hope for a better future.
Author Andy Andrews says remember the next 5 years will pass regardless. The question is where do you want to be in 5 years? You can determine you are a victim and you will wake up 5 years from now in much the same place you are today. Or you can decide today that you want a different future . Learn from your mistakes in the past. Make the changes you need to have a different future and 5 years from now you will be much closer to the life you desire.
I don’t know what circumstances you have faced. Perhaps you have had some bad breaks. Sometimes life does seem a bit unfair. Your past doesn’t have to define you. You can start today to build a better future.