Taking Responsibility

Recognizing Victimhood

Samantha doesn’t realize it, but there’s a victim lurking inside her. Though she wears a sunny disposition outside, inside, the perky 42-year-old mother is resigned to three ideas:

1. It’s too late in her life to go back to college like she always wanted to. She’d look ridiculous, and who has the time, anyway?

2. Her ex-husband is to blame for her financial problems and for her children’s disrespectful behavior.

3. No matter what she does—no matter how many self-help workshops she attends or how much inner work she does with herself—things are not really ever going to change for her.

Quite a life sentence she’s given herself: hopelessness and helplessness, twin offspring of the same poisonous parent known as “Victimhood.”

When we operate from a victim mentality, we give the power to create our own life to someone else, and then we moan about how controlling the other is. To avoid taking responsibility, we create (and protect at all costs!) the dangerous illusion that we are always right. We blame others for our circumstances and remain stuck in a silent “poor me” that keeps us small. 

This is not to say that we can always control what happens to us. Some people’s behavior is abusive. Hurricanes or other natural disasters occur. The company downsizes.

We can, however, always control how we respond. We can refuse to accept abusive behavior, leaving a relationship, if necessary. We can recognize that others can only have control if we let them. We can see the banquet of choices before us, and choose what appeals to us, even if that means going back to college at age 42. 

Here are some clues to help you recognize when you’re carrying around a victim mentality and robbing yourself of your personal power:

•  Your first response to a setback is to blame someone else for what has happened.

•  You often find yourself beginning thoughts with phrases like “I can’t…” or “I’m no good at…” or “I’ve never been able to.” You believe that nothing you do ever works out. 

•  Conversations with friends and family are often about how hard your life is.

•  When friends offer advice, you usually counter it with a “Yes, but…” since they can’t know how difficult your situation really is.

•  You’re always so busy with work and the things you need to do to survive that you just don’t have time to do things you want to do for yourself.

•  You think that other people usually cause you to feel the way you do, that you’d be more centered if it weren’t for them.

•  You’re convinced that if you weren’t tied down to all these obligations, or if only you had more support, you could really do some of the things you always think about doing.

•  When angry, you usually begin sentences with “You” instead of “I.”

You choose: small and powerless and perfect, or stepping up to meet your biggest self—warts and all—and live the life you want. Which will it be?

Note that the word responsibility has the root word, respond. It is all about how you respond. 

Choose Happiness

Your Life, Your Design
Have you ever read a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book?
 
If you have, then you will remember that at various points in the story, you are presented with two or three options. “To follow the man into the cave, turn to page 43. To return to the village, turn to page 57.”
It’s a really cool concept that turns a story into a game. You passively enjoy the plot for a while, then you get to dive in and make your move.
 
These books are like training wheels for your life. The only difference is, in your “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, you are the audience and the author.
 
Every day in your real life you are presented with choices. If you don’t like them, you can create a new one. Sure, it may seem that your options are limited by finances, family, employment or education, but remember this…
 
YOU are a powerful, intelligent, creative human being
with ample, unseen resources.
Your life is your choice, your design.
 
And the really fun part is this…you aren’t doing it alone. You are writing your story with the help of everyone around you. Your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers give you fresh choices and story prompts every day. 
 
When you activate your inner author, other people’s choices become inspirations for your own. Obstacles become hurdles to leap over and bounce points to send your adventure in exciting new directions. Opportunities create new paths to explore.  Every moment is a chance to make your next move and design your story and craft the adventures you want to live.
 
Ask yourself, who are the characters in your story, and what role or influence do they play in your life? Who do you spend your time with? How do you spend your time?  Where do live?  What is your lifestyle?  What do you do that brings you ultimate fulfillment in your life? 
 
It’s your story, you get to design it.  And the sky is the limit.
And we all want to create more happiness in our lives.


3 Simple Habits To a Happier You
We all want a happy life. Happiness brings with it better health, more satisfying relationships, it makes us more creative, and attracts happy people into our lives. But being happy can be a challenge. It’s easy to set our focus on the bad things in life while ignoring the good.
Here three proven habits to help shift the spotlight back onto the good things and create more happiness in your life:
Practice gratitude. People who express gratitude on a consistent basis are more optimistic, less materialistic, and more forgiving. Here’s one method of harnessing the positive power of gratitude:

  • On a piece of paper rank your happiness on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being ‘never’ and 10 being ‘all the time’. Seal your answer in an envelope and set it aside. At the end of each day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for. It can be ordinary (clean running water) or uplifting (watching your child graduate). After two weeks, rank your happiness again and compare it with your original score. Chances are you’re significantly happier.

Perform acts of kindness. Giving not only benefits the receiver, it contributes to the givers’ health, happiness, and sense of social connection. Try this simple exercise to get started:

  • Chose one day this week and perform 5 acts of kindness. They can be big or small, random or planned, for a stranger or someone you know. Dropping a quarter in a stranger’s parking meter, donating blood, or, at work try cleaning the communal kitchen area, or pitching in on a colleague’s project. At the end of the day write down what you did, how the person responded, and notice the difference you feel.

Offer forgiveness. Keeping grudges means holding onto anger, resentment, and hurt. Practicing forgiveness releases the pain and allows us to move on.

  • Think of a grudge you’re holding. Acknowledge your feelings, thoughts, and sensations around the experience then ask yourself, what areas in my life is this grudge negatively affecting? How is it impacting those around meWhat positive change would occur if I let it go and moved on? Forgiveness isn’t about minimizing feelings or condoning transgressions. It’s about letting go and setting yourself free.

We all experience life’s ups and downs. By implementing these habits into your daily life you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever challenge life throws at you and experience more happiness. You deserve a happy life!