Okay, that headline might get people on edge or defensive.
But please keep reading…
All of us get ‘stuck’. We get defensive and angry and upset. We start to wallow a little bit, and feel frustrated by others’ behavior and choices. We are upset by their political and religious affiliations. We get angered by their nasty habits (smoking, swearing, passing gas on the train).
Basically, we get ‘stuck’ in the belief that if only other people acted or thought the way I do, then the world would be a better place. Or more fun. Or more laid back. Or smarter. Or whatever it is that you feel good about yourself about.
When people act in a way that is out of alignment with our own beliefs about who we would like to be (note, I didn’t say who we ARE), it causes us to react. This reaction might be internal (feel yucky, depressed, sad, irritated) or it might be external (we start shouting, slamming things, voicing our opinions, smashing our computer screen).
You get the idea.
Basically, we operate on the ‘if the outside world would simply reflect who I would like to be, then I WOULD FEEL BETTER’. So, when the world does not reflect back to us the way we wish it could or would be, then we feel yuck.
And guess what that means? It means that other people and circumstances have complete control over our feelings.
Which leaves you feeling DISEMPOWERED. And yuck. And THAT filters into everything about your life (work, relationships).
Here’s an example, because for a long time I lived a disempowered life. I WAS THE WORLDS BIGGEST VICTIM.
Now, ohhhh. I know that world is LOADED!!! We don’t like to think of ourselves as a VICTIM (ewww). Even saying that word used to make me feel irritated and jittery. People who acted the way I thought victims ‘behaved’ totally annoyed me to some extent. (This is raw honesty).
Oh boy. And then I realized that I was a BIG FAT CRYBABY. And I was the BIGGEST VICTIM OF THEM ALL.
Examples of my VICTIM MINDSET:
My happiness was always just out of reach… BECAUSE MY HUSBAND WASN’T PULLING HIS WEIGHT AROUND THE HOUSE.
I felt like a failure as a parent… BECAUSE MY PARENTS HAD SUCKED AND SO I MUST SUCK TOO.
I felt trapped by my career and job (even though it was aligned with my passion)… BECAUSE I COULDN’T FIX EVERYBODY.
I couldn’t achieve the success I desired… BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE UNLIMITED CASH/TIME/SUPPORT.
It was EVERYBODY ELSE’S FAULT. The world was basically conspiring against me. And I was an exhausted, miserable wreck.
And I didn’t WANT it to be that way. In fact, I KNEW DEEP DOWN that it wasn’t true, but I couldn’t find the #truth in the midst of the chaos and overwhelm.
I had given my power to all of the circumstances and people in my life. I had nothing left.
And once I did acknowledge my 'Victim Mindset', everything started to change.
And because I knew that we can NEVER CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE, I chose to turn that around to wonder what and how could I change myself so that I could be/achieve/feel the way I wanted to… The way I deserved to feel. (NO WHINING NECESSARY).
And so I did.
And my life has changed completely (yours can too).
Let me share a funny story that happened this past weekend.
I went to the donut store to pick up breakfast for my kiddos and their sweet friend that slept over (okay, easy on the judgements… little sleep, no coffee, no homemade breakfast folks).
The drive-up window was really backed up… And as I neared the order window I realized that there was no menu outside. And while I had written down all of the ‘requests’ that four 9 & 10 year old girls made, I had promptly left the list at home (remember, no coffee).
Anyway, got to the window.
Me: Big smile. “Good morning! Sorry, forgot my note so I’m not sure I will remember all of this correctly”
Fellow: Cold, semi-irritated stare “I can’t hear you”.
Me: (louder) “Okay, so could I have four small sausage kolaches, no cheese”
Fellow: Snapping at his co-worker minions “Four cheese kolaches”
Me: “Uhm, I said NO cheese”
Fellow: Grumbling “I heard you say cheese”… “You did say cheese”
Me: Amused “Yup, I did say ‘NO cheese’”
Fellow: Still grumbling “Well, I heard you say cheese”
Me: Still amused. “Okay.”
Fellow: Anything else?
Me: “Oh yes! Lots…”
…. I won’t go into the rest of our exchange. Suffice it to say that amidst him snapping his fingers and hands at his co-workers and giving me very ‘Ugh, this woman is SO disorganized” gestures, it didn’t go much better.
Why did I share this? Well, just a couple of years ago, the interchange would have involved me saying AT LEAST ONCE “Oh, I’m SORRY. I didn’t mean to… blah blah… SORRY”.
And, perhaps later, I would have processed the situation several more times, then become irritated and frustrated at myself for saying sorry, and start to create this image of this man as this huge, hulking, oppressive, control-freak… I might even have avoided that donut-store in the future on the off-chance of ever running into HIM again (because, you know, he’s AWFUL).
I know that I would have ended up with a cascade of negative feelings about myself and toward him… And at some point justified these feelings by the ‘belief’ that he was somehow a bad person.
Instead, this weekend, I was able to be objective to the situation. I watched a man that was obviously irritable ANYWAY. He doesn’t treat his co-workers with much respect, or even his customers. But it was NOT ABOUT ME. So I could just watch and let it go. It was minor. I felt absolutely good in my own skin (oh, except for coffee - if I had had coffee, I might have felt EXCELLENT in my own skin).
Listen, this might sound minor. But when I thought about it later I realized HOW FAR I HAVE COME in this lifetime.
No irritation. Simply interest and amusement.
This man's behavior and attitude did not have the power to change my attitude and behavior. And I stayed comfortable in my own skin.
And I was grateful and appreciated the fact that how that all went down was 100% because of how I chose to interpret and understand the situation. I CHOSE.
Being an ‘objective observer’ in our own lives is such an amazing FREEING experience.
How is it freeing, you might ask?
Because quite simply it means that our actions, reactions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors... they are all CHOICES. And when we have choices, we have power (over our own lives).
While we might want to run away from our 'dark side'. Avoid all the yucky feels and the harsh realities. While there will maybe always be a part of us that wants to cry in the corner and point a finger at the 'bad person'... All that gets us is at best a little sympathy, at worst a reputation for being a big crybaby. But it will never, NEVER free us.
I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with this in your life. What has happened lately where you realized how far YOU have come from VICTIM to VICTORIOUS in your own life - big or small… PLEASE SHARE - I’d love to hear it, and I’m certain others can relate too 🙂
Tanya Tinney is a mom of three beautiful girls (including fraternal twins), wife of an amazing entrepreneurial man, nature lover, wrangler of two large dogs and chaser of three bad cats. She is equally good at baking banana bread and whipping up a killer margarita.
Her passion is helping fabulous people get unstuck from their past so they can blast through current challenges and get really stuck into achieving their dreams.
With three University degrees and 14 years experience working as a psychologist, most of the time she knows what she’s talking about. The rest of the time she ‘wings it’ based on her own messy life experiences. Her approach is one of laser focus, empathy and intuition with a healthy dose of humor – along with a kick-in-the-you-know-what when necessary (and it often is!).
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