Victim or Victor?
No question, life is sharp. For all the beautiful bits, there are many incredibly painful pieces. As you read this, maybe you’re in the middle of the dark days of struggle, trauma, rejection, or loss. Maybe you woke up today and questioned what the point in all of this was, or maybe you just walk powerlessly through each day wondering when (or if) the wounds will heal.
In my work I have the incredible privilege of sitting with people in their pain and also in their recovery from the pain. I hear the most unbelievable stories of loss, trauma, deceit, and sadness. The devastation people endure is incredible to me. What continues to inspire me in this work is watching brokenness become wholeness again. The bounce back (aka resilience) of some people is nothing short of a miracle. What I have learned is this:
We cannot wave the flag of Victim and the flag of Victor at the same time.
The difference between those who recover from brokenness, and those who stay stuck in their pain is often determined by a simple decision – to be a victim or to be a victor. To be a victim means that the problem is in control. While being a victor means we acknowledge the problem exists, but we face it with an element of determination to overcome it.
- Take responsibility when things go wrong.
- Accept setbacks as opportunities to grow.
- Experience ‘failures’ as isolated incidents and not reflective of their capacity or value as a person.
- Plan for the future and make time for what they want.
- Feel free.
- Are focused on solutions and plan for success.
- Use strength-based language. Eg. “I’ve faced challenges before, I’ll figure it out.”
- Accept their weaknesses, celebrate their strengths. Value others for their contributions, strengths & differences.
- Believe they have power over their situations and their lives.
- Are action oriented. They take action.
- Victims blame others and make excuses.
- See setbacks as defeat.
- See their failures and the failures of others as absolute definitions of themselves and the other person.
- Can’t imagine life without the problem and feel easily overwhelmed.
- Feel trapped.
- Are focused on the problem and can’t imagine a way out.
- Use victim, powerless language. Eg. “Why does this always happen to me? What’s the point? Nothing will ever improve.”
- Focus solely on their own weaknesses and on the shortcomings of others.
- Feel powerless, as if everything is out of their control.
- Are reactive, often passive, passive aggressive or aggressive in their reactivity.
Learning how to be Victors starts with a decision to see ourselves and our situation through a different lens. Consider these steps:
Decide that some aspect of your situation is within your control, and then go about addressing that. Some things you can’t change. Some you can. Change those things.
Change the story in your head to one of victory. I remind myself regularly that I have a 100% survival rate – the odds are good that I’ll get through this too.
Focus your attention on the good. What we look for in life, we will find. If you’re looking for the areas of failure or weakness, you’ll surely find them. But if you’re looking for times that you have succeeded, or times when others have shown up for you, helped you, etc, you’ll find those too.
Just keep going. Don’t stop, even when it’s hard. Victors don’t give up.
We cannot always change our circumstances, but we most certainly can change our perspective. Wave the flag of victory. Some days it seems heavier than others, but I promise you, it’s always worth the effort.