This happened to me the other day.
I can’t believe it. How dare they? Why me? These laws are ridiculous anyway.
Besides, it was a straight road on a Sunday afternoon in a country area with no houses and no cars for miles…
My automatic response was to blame someone…anyone…it just wasn’t fair. I’m a good driver! I’ve never been at fault in an accident, never driven while under the influence, always consider other road users, always drive to the conditions.
Blah, blah, blah…
What I did was immediately look to shirk my responsibility. Pretty easy to see from where you’re sitting, reading this post from atop your pedestal. Or perhaps you’re shifting in your seat because you’ve done the same or a similar thing?
Either way, we’re all guilty.
Truth is, we’re all guilty of shirking or dodging our responsibility from time to time. It might not have been a ticket for exceeding the posted speed limit and maybe you weren’t that blatant about it, but chances are you’ve sunk to ‘victim’ status at one time or another.
So what is this victim status I just threw at you like mud at a paling fence? And how do you stop that mud sticking?
Well, whenever we shift blame, justify, point the finger or deny ownership of outcomes or behaviours in any situation, we ‘play the victim’. Much has been written on this topic and this post is by no means a definitive piece on the psychology of victimhood in general, day to day life. The aim of this article is to serve as a reminder to check in with yourself more often. Playing the victim actually robs you of huge amounts of personal power and productivity. The very things that get you results in life!
Every time you shift blame you actually shift ownership of your actions, and therefore results, to that person/thing/situation. Who would you prefer to have in control of your day to day life? The government? The police? Your boss? The taxman? The weather?
What about events ‘beyond your control’ though? Are you supposed to take ownership of those things?
Of course not. You can’t control many things in your life but it doesn’t mean they need become a way for you to disown your actions and surrender influence on your life. The thing you most certainly can control is your response and your emotions.
You might say it’s black and white when it comes to my speeding ticket, and in many ways you’d be right. I knew the law, I chose to break it and I’ll be paying the price (plus the credit card fee). Sadly, not every victim-moment is that clear to us and it takes self reflection, acceptance of feedback and an open mind to allow ourselves to grow and change in this way.
On the upside, when we take ownership of our situation and responsibility for our actions, we take charge of our lives. This means we can literally have anything we want.
So instead of blaming our genetics, the big corporate marketing machines, the government, our customers, our staff, our spouses or the police… we have a choice to take ownership and start exercising, stop eating crap, be proactive in our businesses, get better at what we do and how we deliver it, be better leaders, husbands, wives, parents…. oh, and to stop speeding.
Not only are we more likely to get the sort of results we’d like to see but we’ll be happier, healthier, nicer to be around and generally more successful!
It’s a simple prescription but like all things in life that deliver the good stuff, it’s not necessarily easy. What is easy though is making the decision to change. What happens after that is down to commitment, discipline and a willingness to act.
Now, I’m off to the policemen’s ball…got a VIP ticket!