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Stop Being a Victim

The foundation for living a great life rests on one vital principle: You are responsible. Yep, that’s right – you are responsible. Unhappy in your job? You took the job, you choose to remain in the job, and you are choosing to be miserable about it. Overweight? No one force fed you all that food. In debt? Guess who spent more money then they could afford? In a bad relationship? You keep showing up.

The first step in improving any of these situations (or countless others we could name) is taking responsibility for them. Victims are quick to blame the situation on other factors: I have to stay in this job, I’ve got kids to support! Well, who chose to have the kids? And why have you decided this is the only job in the world you can get? Unless you’re dead you can always acquire new skills. You are responsible.

Even if something truly terrible has happened and it is beyond your control (although you have more control in most situations than you’d like to admit), how you react to it is your responsibility.

The best example I have ever seen of this is a women I love and admire greatly – Cathy Wheeler, the Director of the Small Business Center at Rockingham Community College. Cathy is one of the sunniest, most upbeat people you will ever meet. In the past several months, she has been struggling with a terribly dehabilitating illness which has weakened her bones. They are incredibly fragile – last winter she slipped on the ice and a major bone in her leg broke. (She was helping someone who had slipped, and she got up and kept going for a few days!) A few months later, her jaw shattered while she was walking across her bedroom. And she’s currently dealing with spinal problems which have her worried about paralysis.

Cathy could easily become a victim, complaining about this happening to her in the prime of her life, using the situation as an excuse to be miserable. Not Cathy. She always asks about others and has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen. She’ll think about all of us and how we’re doing long before it would ever occur to her to complain about her own condition. She said to me that she wasn’t going to let her situation stop her from doing the things she loved. She said “I’d rather die living, than live dying.” That’s advice we should all take to heart. Cathy is a tiny little thing, but she’s the strongest and the most joyful person I know. No one would ever say that Cathy is a victim.

Most of us don’t have to deal with our bodies falling apart on us. Some of us become victims with hardly any provocation, eager to blame someone or something else for any failure or problem we encounter. These victims are miserable and encourage everyone who comes in contact with them to be miserable too. Chances are you know at least one victim, but what about you? Is there some area in your life where you are behaving as a victim? An area in which you have surrendered all your power and are blaming someone or something else for the quality of your life? Stop it right now and take responsibility!

It scares people too much to admit they got themselves into their current situations. Or that, at the very least, they are choosing to remain in those situations. But until you admit (yes, I ate all that food; yes, I spent all that money; yes, I’ve been too lazy to exercise; yes, I’ve been too lazy to look for another job or get more training; yes, I’ve been too afraid of being lonely to leave this relationship; yes, I’ve been too scared to ask for the sale; and on and on and on), until you admit you are responsible for the quality of your life, nothing will get any better for you.

Once you admit that it is indeed YOU who are in charge of your life, you can decide what to do. You can change your behavior in the direction of what you truly want. If you really, truly want a slimmer body, you can cut back on what you eat and start exercising. If you really want a different job, you can start actively looking for another one or go and get the education you might need to qualify for something else. Maybe you really don’t want to do the work necessary to lose the weight or get another job. Then take responsibility for that decision and fix your attitude. Focus on what you like about your situation – for example you may really like your co-workers – and quit complaining about something you have no intention of changing. Your attitude is always under your control – and choosing to be miserable is just plain stupid.

To increase your quality of life:
Step One: Take responsibility for it.
Step Two: Take action to improve or accept anything that is making you unhappy. (In other words, fix it or get over it.)

Victims never get past the first step. Don’t be one of them.

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