Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos from in2motivation, an Amsterdam-based personal and professional development company, explain why it's time to stop playing the victim.
There are two sides of life. You are either on the "effect side" or on the "cause side". When you are on the effect side, you blame, you complain and you play the victim role. When you are on the cause side, you take 100 percent responsibility for all the results in your life.
On the effect side, you put yourself in a position where you have no or limited control over things that happen in your life.
On the cause side, you are always in control over something, even the things you cannot control, as you can control how you deal with them. This leaves out all the grey areas, and that is not for nothing because it leaves no room for opening the book of excuses.
Playing the victim
So, what does it mean; being on the effect side? Well, let me give you a few examples. First, being on this side could be that you are complaining about all the things that go wrong, and particularly what role other people have in that.
This could vary from blaming colleagues, managers, partners, family members or friends. It could be complaining about things that are not going well, the weather, work, your manager, colleagues, friends or anyone else.
It could even be as bad as putting yourself in a position that the whole world is to blame for everything. Or you play such a negative victim role that you let one person that did something to you get control over your mind.
In some training courses, I refer to a book by Victor Frankl. Victor was a Holocaust survivor who experienced the most horrible things. He has written chronicles about this period, which has led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even in the most brutal ones, and thus, finding a reason to continue living.
When I train and coach, and in my professional and private life, I come across too many people who are stuck on the effect side. And let me be frank. I myself can complain and blame others from time to time. But the problem is not that. The problem is not being self-aware of this, and not being able to get to the cause side.
On the effect side, you are on the back of the bus, and someone else is driving you towards a direction in life. On the cause side, you are steering the bus yourself!
On the effect side, you have no control. On the cause side, you always have control over something. This is even true of the things in life you cannot influence, like people doing stuff unexpectedly to you. You are the one that can always choose how you deal with such events.
This does not refer to going through a healthy cycle of emotions, such as anger, sadness, and so on. Emotions are great. They are part of every second of your life and they always have positive intentions. Anger, for example, often leads you to a place of justice. Sadness is a great indicator that you need to heal.
No, I am talking about when you feel you cannot do anything anymore, or you keep running around in circles like a hamster in a wheel.
How to get out
One way to escape from the effect side is to find someone that drastically provokes you and doesn't take you to a place where some friends can take you with all their good intentions. They don't take you to a place where people feel sorry for you and keep confirming your victimhood and pitifulness. Usually, deep in your heart, you don’t want that either, as all it does is give you short-term comfort. Sometimes you need someone to tell you: STOP IT!
Or you need to say it to yourself. Take matters into your own hands. Because the worst position you can put yourself in is the one in which you take no responsibility, like a child.
Children are allowed to do that in order to grow up. Adults can protect them from the bad. But when you are an adult yourself, it's time to take responsibility. It is time to stop blaming and complaining. It is time to sit behind the wheel of the bus!
You put yourself in this position. You chose this job, and you are in this life. So, deal with whatever comes at you. Deal with the things you cannot control, and put yourself in control again.
Focus on the positive
One of the best ways to put yourself on the cause side is to give a different meaning to things. The meaning that we give to events usually puts us on the effect side. But you can put yourself on the cause side again.
Give things a different and positive meaning. Put yourself in a position in which you are not going to allow others to control your mind.
You are the one that can do that. And you are the one that can change that. Because as we repeat in our training courses: if you do something that does not work, do something different!
Sometimes this means that you stop the blaming and complaining and start controlling what you can control and focus on that. Focus on the positive. Focus on what you can control.
Co-authors Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos are life coaches and motivational speakers at in2motivation, offering personal and professional training courses to optimise individual and group motivation and performance.