Victimhood is the most debilitating mindset to become comfortable with. This is because victimhood becomes a crutch upon which you negate your own personal power to change.
Victimhood is likely the most dangerous of all limiting beliefs. It acts not only as a medium through which fear and doubt can control your life, but in your mind, it is entirely justifiable. This is why it is dangerous.
Justified circumstances are more influential to the person who makes the justifications because their focus and conscious directions are centered on the power they don’t have. It becomes a negative belief system.
Let’s take a look at victimization in terms of our ability to justify it.
Why Do We Justify Victimhood?
If I justify why I am lazy by blaming others, I am admitting to myself that I have the right to be so, and in so doing I give away my power to create beneficial change. I am entitling myself to become lazy, in a sense.
We already know that focusing devotes time and energy, and thusly placing your area of focus into the Active Potential Hemisphere compounds results in exponential fashion. (For more on The Potential Dichotomy, read this post here)
We can use this compounding result to our benefit or detriment. Therefore, focusing on things that relate to feelings of victimhood quite literally creates those things. The mind does love to focus on problems, after all; it loves it so much that it is willing to create issues where none may exist so that it can practice solving them.
Our mind is constantly answering the questions we ask it. In fact, all it does is present solutions. Every result of your actions come from a thought, either conscious direction or subconscious reaction. Every thought is merely a solution to a question that your brain forms to help it determine a focus based on experiences, senses, values, and other stimuli.
Therefore, it is accurate to make the determination that your brain does nothing but look for answers—your brain will always find a way to answer any question you ask. The brain is amazingly powerful.
When you focus your conscious direction in areas of victimhood by asking questions that relate to “why” you are a victim, you are pouring time and energy into the creation of such answers. Is it beneficial to you to know why you are a victim? Likely not.
Shifting your focus from victimhood to power will have you asking questions such as “What can I do to change the situation in a way that fulfills me?” This question does provide useful and assuring answers.
Reverse Confirmation Bias
Your mind, through what I call Reverse Confirmation Bias (in which you look for justifications to stimuli, instead of stimuli for justifications), actively presents to you the answers to your question. These answers (if you ask limiting questions) are the focused justifications of your own limiting beliefs, and they work against you.
The mind loves to solve problems: ask it bad questions and you will receive bad answers based on the nature of Active Potential.
Beneficial questions attempt to do one thing and one thing only: make you aware of your personal power to change your own life for the better.
Reverse Confirmation Bias:
A reversal of the standard logic of confirmation bias as it relates to beliefs and evidence. Instead of interpreting external evidence to confirm our beliefs, we interpret our beliefs to match that of the external evidence through victimhood, and the justifications for our circumstances.
An example of normal confirmation bias is this: I use external evidence to confirm my beliefs.
Now, reverse confirmation bias goes like this: I use my beliefs (that I am a victim) to confirm the external evidence (that I had not achieved something I wanted to) in order to avoid personal responsibility. Both can be dangerous mindsets to have if they go unrecognized.
Escaping a feeling of victimhood may be difficult if you have formed a habit through the Self-Efficacy of Survival. You have, as a result, become complacent in the limiting beliefs of your own potential!
However, it may be as simple as beginning to ask different questions that present beneficial answers that help you to enact change.
Instead of asking, “Why is something wrong with me?” in which case you will receive answers to your question that ultimately will not help you improve, ask, “How can things be right with me?” which will put your brain to work in a way that aids you by encouraging helpful answers.
If you ever ask why you “cannot” do something, your energy and time will be focused on helping you compound that belief through Active Potential. If you were to ask why you can do something, you would effectively focus your attention and provide results in that direction.
This is the simple but effective power of conscious direction. Direct your questioning, and the circumstances follow. And as we know, circumstances do not create a strong person; a strong person creates the circumstances.
The Dangers of Being Mistaken
I am going to refer to the bicycle example used in my post Equality v.s. Equity. Please refer to that post before reading on further!
The bicycle example sounds like it was crafted in a perfect scenario in which years of abuse and misuse of habits did not previously exist in society. And that is true—it is a perfect scenario with a clean slate.
But all of society is not reading this—you are. And a single person, as we have discussed before, can create their own circumstances by consciously directing their resources.
You can create your own perfect scenario! I believe that if we all took a small amount of time to look introspectively, we could affect great changes in the world, and it would all start from within ourselves. The difficulty comes in reforming our habits.
The Self-Efficacy of Survival is, in fact, simply a means of explaining the nature of habits as they relate to your reactionary sub-conscious mind. Your sub-conscious is exactly that, reactionary.
A quick example of a “reactionary” scenario can be driving. Have you ever driven home only to realize that you don’t remember anything about the drive itself? Have you ever had a day fly by without a second thought? These are reactionary scenarios.
If you have ever reacted to a situation in a way that you feel you shouldn’t have, it is either due to your subconscious or the behaviors that become obvious to you after the fact. In other words, it’s the presence of new information that would have altered your previous actions.
For example: If someone cuts in front of me in traffic and I get upset, I have clearly not employed my conscious thoughts in determining if this is a worthy cause for my disheveled mental state. I was reacting.
But, in the presence of new information, I can quickly alter my actions and moods. Perhaps this man was rushing to see his newborn in the hospital; I would then feel much more willing to take control of myself and choose to look at the good in the situation.
I would no longer feel victimized by him, and I’d likely wish him the best. Here’s the kicker: I can consciously choose to believe that this man is rushing to see his newborn. I need no proof.
If I wish to remain positive, I can choose to see the good in any situation. I will have not limited myself to feelings of victimhood. Mistaking equality and equity within your own perceptions is a surefire way to increase the likelihood that you form limiting habits.
“We often judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions.” – Stephen Covey (Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). We often only perceive we have been victimized by a personal attack due to our own constant self-concern, when in truth, often nothing is personal about a situation—it’s only my perception that is.
Ultimately, escaping the nature of victimhood must come from complete accountability for ones own life and circumstances. Those who have taken accountability of their own lives will always advocate for the power and purpose that they have put into practice.
By asking your mind different questions regarding your own power and how you can solve problems, you will start forming a more controlled and balanced mindset that is primed with action, not victimhood.
Remember, victimhood is a result of comfort, and there is nothing that has killed more dreams than the fear of what is uncomfortable. In fact, most successful people state that to be constantly improving, you must always face some level of discomfort.
I just like to call this discomfort “growing pains.”
Thanks for reading!
Work With Austin
-Austin Denison is a change management consultant from Southern California and founder/CEO of Denison Success Systems LLC. He is the author of The Essential Change Management Guidebook: Master The Art of Organizational Change as well as The Potential Dichotomy: The Philosophy of a Fulfilling Life.