“Don't become a victim of yourself. Forget about the thief waiting in the alley; what about the thief in your mind?”
“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
John W. Gardner (American Writer and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 1912-2002)
I had a friend who would often say, “You’re either a winner or you’re a victim of life!” He loved saying that. He would say it with confidence and self-assurance. He had little sympathy for people who chose to be a victim. It can be easy however to write about or talk about being in the moment or in the present. It can be easy to talk about living one day or one moment at a time. It can be easy to talk about not giving into fear, sadness or anger. However, it’s not easy to do these things when things seem to be going wrong or badly. It’s not easy to do them when the immediate and the long-term future look uncertain and frightening. What would be easy is to follow my mind into dark places. What would be easy is to give into sadness, fear or self-pity. What would be easy would be to be a victim.
Happiness takes courage. Happiness takes self-discipline. Self-discipline takes courage. This can be long and difficult work, like physical rehabilitation. Things don’t always look good. So my three choices are to give into despair, to address my emotions and/or to get to work. The first choice is the worst. It makes me a victim. I think there are many people who secretly delight in being a victim. Perhaps I have been one of those people. Why would someone delight, secretly or otherwise, in being a victim?
The victim gets attention, which is often loving and caring. It feels healing. The problem is that the healing stops becoming medicine and starts becoming a drug. If the victim can’t get attention from one person, he or she will find someone else. To my shame I have played this role too often. It cost me friendships.
Through long and painful processes I have learned the following:
Ultimately, I am responsible for my own life. I have to make my own decisions. While being a victim may give me (seeming) love and attention, it also allows others to make decisions for me. This, more than anything else in my life has caused me my greatest number of problems. Handing my life over to someone else, other than God, has never benefited me. God created me, by myself. I was not created with an additional mind that is meant to direct and guide me. He has given me only my own mind.
Sometimes it is legitimate to ask for help or to need a listening ear. Sometimes.
I always enjoy needing to help far more than needing help. But I have to resist the temptation to tell others how to live their lives. A better course would be to help guide someone to his or her own heart and to help someone listen to God’s voice. Advice rarely works.
I am fortunate to have people in my life who rarely tell me what they think I should do, so when they do tell me, I listen.
The moment we start moving into our Purpose is the moment we stop becoming victims. The moment I wrote my first blog was that moment for me. That’s when I began moving towards a place of power and emotional freedom. It didn’t all come at once, but changes started occurring rapidly. I’m still in process. I’m still growing. I still give into fear or despair occasionally. But now I have tools. I have ways to move forward. I don’t have to be a victim. Victims are helpless. I’m not helpless. I can get help from others when needed, but I can get help from God always. And I can help myself always. I really can live one day or one moment at a time. Again, it takes self-discipline and courage. It takes work and practice. But it’s not impossible.
The world is looking for self-disciplined and courageous people. The world is looking for people who can Get Started and Keep Going. The world is looking for people like you and me.