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Last week, I completed courses offered via LinkedIn through its "Week of Learning" campaign.
The courses I took vary from life skills to leadership and management to project management and branding.
One of the interesting courses I completed on communication and coaching was titled "Powerless to Powerful: Taking Control," conducted by Fred Kofman, philosopher and LinkedIn's vice president.
The course overview reads, "victimhood means blaming other people or outside circumstances when faced with life's challenges. This "it's not my fault" mentality can scale to teams, organizations, and societies. But why shift blame when you can take control? "
And Kofman made interesting points, among them:
- The price of innocence is impotence
- The victim only focuses on what is happening outside his / her control
- If you are arguing that you are innocent and other people did it to you, then you are not going to have the power to change the situation
Victim mentality, or "the acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case even in the lack of clear evidence of such circumstances," can be replaced with a better means to respond to a situation and to adopt a player mentality.
Kofman pointed out that:
- On response-ability, if you are suffering, it is your problem
- The victim avoids responsibility
- The victim avoids response-ability
I at times succumbed to victim mentality. And as I got deeper into believing that I have not done anything wrong, that I have not contributed in worsening the situation, the more I felt I was powerless. Good thing I have friends who kicked me out of the s*** I let myself believing into by being brutally honest to me. Yet, at the same time, they have not left me and still, helping me stay above my demons.
That is why if I know someone who fell prey into victim mentality, I also kick them (not literally, but if push comes to shove, kidding!) As Kofman said, we must refuse to feed the victim mentality that are already crippling our loved ones.
Some questions that we ask and let the victim mentality take hold include:
- What happened to you?
- Who wronged you?
- What should they have done?
- What should they do now?
- What punishment do they deserve?
Be a player
One thing that we must accept is that we are not in control of all the things happening in our life.
We must ask ourselves, "what did I do? How did I participate?"
We must realize our behavior in order to create a positive outcome. Let us have a warrior attitude that everything is a challenge, Kofman said.
When we feel we are hurting, let us stop and think a way to respond, and ask further:
- What challenges am I facing?
- How did I contribute in this situation?
- Could I have done something differently? (Could is a player word; should a victim word, Kofman said)
- Can I do something now?
- What lesson can I learn from this experience?
Become a hero
And once we take the warrior stance, the player mentality, the next thing to do is to become our own hero, Kofman said.
That we must always keep in mind that some things do not work out.
That without a challenge, you cannot prove what you are made of.
In the online course, Kofman coached John on how to let go of his terrible experience when he was starting in his career. He pointed to John that the latter was a hero of his own when he walked out of the situation, that he refused to be the victim anymore (though through the years, he was still feeling sorry about it); that he chose not to stay in a place that he was not recognized --- a somehow similar situation I had also.
And like John, I chose to walk away, to tell how debilitating the system was to those responsible for it, and I could only wish that those people oppressing others in such workplace have learned their lesson, like I learned and learning mine.
Kofman said the hero stands for the truth, that they choose to do the right thing, and display their values no matter what.
And for us to empower others to become players then heroes, we must:
- Listen emphatically
- Engage in a conversation to pivot from victim to hero
- Know the truth of the external situation
- Know the truth of the internal pain
- Would you like to do something about this?
- What is within your control to make the situation better?
- What must you do to be proud of yourself?
There are real victims out there, and they have become survivors because they chose to rise to the occasion.
And overall, what is important is that, yes, we had a painful experience, but we got through it.