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Victim Thinking

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"Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have."

- DALE CARNEGIE

We have all done it; sat around feeling sorry for ourselves and thinking, “How will I ever complete this task,” or “If I only had better software to get this job done.” Some days may seem like everything is going wrong or it's just not your day. You may be faced with a challenging assignment or difficult decision, and instead of taking ownership of the situation, you find yourself wallowing in self-pity. We know that we’ll experience up and down moments. How we choose to handle those situations can positively or negatively influence our work relationships.

Only the Victim Can Save Themselves

People find themselves trapped in a victim thinking mindset because there are benefits to victim thinking that feel good. For example, we want people to feel sorry for us, our huge workload, and we enjoy the feeling of empathy from others. Acting like a victim when facing an obstacle may feel good, but in reality it has a negative impact on work relationships and could cause an individual to lose future opportunities.

Placing blame on a barrier or circumstance out of our control simply shifts the work to someone else in the organization. Shifting the blame to someone else can cause a breakdown in teamwork and reduce mutual respect. Only when we break the pattern of victim thinking by taking ownership will we feel better, happier with ourselves at work, and experience better interactions with our team. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t help you through the stressful situation, and the people closest to you may grow tired of hearing you complain.

If you feel like you’re caught in the rut of victim thinking, take time out of your day to express gratitude. Be thankful, write a thank-you note, or just remember the good in your life that outweighs the bad. Carve out time and offer to help someone else. A mental break from your situation may grant you new perspective. When you are worn down, take time to rest. Your teams deserve you at your best.

When you find yourself focusing on the barriers in front of you, instead of the actual work you can get done, realize only you can stop feeling sorry for yourself, take ownership, and start being productive.

Break the Victim Thinking Pattern in 3 Steps

Acknowledge Victim Thinking

  • Be aware of times you are feeling sorry for yourself or whining, while focusing on the challenge ahead.
  • Allow yourself a few minutes and then stop feeling sorry for yourself and tackle the actual work.
  • For Example: If your colleague or another department is responsible for a piece of a project you’re working on and you’ve missed your deadline because of it, you may feel sorry for yourself. You may feel like that department did this to you on purpose. Realize that people at work want to do their best, too, and it’s unlikely they are intentionally causing you stress. There is probably another factor causing the delay.

Choose A Different Perspective

  • Stop focusing on the bad.
  • Believe you control your own happiness.
  • Shift negative emotions to positive ones by addressing animosity head-on and releasing resentments.

Take Action

  • Instead of focusing on the obstacle you’re up against, focus on what you can directly influence.
  • Rely less on what other people do and more on what you can do.

You Get To

Stop yourself from thinking you “have” to do something, and start thinking about things like you “get” to do them. This shift in perspective supports a positive and grateful mindset.

For Example: I have to take the kids to school daily. Becomes: I get to spend extra time with my children each morning driving them to school safely in my vehicle. 

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