Sometimes things are just not working for us. It feels as if everything is going wrong, we cannot get anything done, and all we say and do is not received well. It is as if the world is working against us and we tend to ask ourselves ‘why is this happening to me?’. Though, on other occasions you might ask a different type question. One I believe is more efficient and proactive. One that sounds like: ‘what can I do to overcome this, and how can I grow from it?’
I believe the obstacles we face in life will come back to us in different forms, until we learn how to deal with them. If for example you have a bad relationship with a co-worker and you run from the situation by avoiding the co-worker, you will miss an opportunity to learn and grow from the situation. Hence, it will reappear in your life, maybe in the form of a neighbour or a family member. If you do not learn how to deal with the situation, you will not grow from it and you will not be able to deal with it more efficiently.
I have come across two types of perspectives to look at this matter. The task-oriented and ego-oriented approach. When one makes use of the task-oriented approach, he or she is driven by self-development and by mastering their skill. Task-oriented people have an internal locus of control, meaning that they belief that they can control their own life, and control their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
If one makes use of the ego-oriented perspective, they will be more concerned with how others will judge them, and they tend to compare themselves with others. Through this comparison, they will either feel better about themselves or worse. These people are so preoccupied with themselves and how they are perceived, that they can have different motives driving their behaviour than what it appears.
‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’
– Wayne Dyer
We can switch between being ego-oriented and task-oriented. We can even learn to make use of one more than the other. We can do this consciously and unconsciously, so it is a good thing to be aware of the consequences this type of thought-orientation has. Now I am not saying that being ego-oriented is a bad thing. The thing that I want to acknowledge in this blogpost, is that it can have a downside to it. Being ego-oriented can be efficient, yet it can also be harmful for yourself and others. Being task-oriented can be self-empowering.
We can choose the people with whom we come in contact the most. We can choose our friends, our colleagues, and also our family members we feel more connected to. However, we also tend to choose the people around us who can confirm our beliefs. This is especially true for people who tend to be more ego-oriented. They rely on people that confirm their beliefs. They need to be judged positively so that they can feel better about themselves. If someone judges them negatively, or maybe gives feedback that they do not like, ego-oriented people tend to avoid them.
A big shortcoming of being ego-oriented, is that you are vulnerable to the adapting to the victim mentality. This is a mentality which we all may have or had in our lives. It can be addicting in a sense that it can be difficult to free yourself from this mentality. People who identify themselves as a victim make use of the ‘poor me’ card. They find ways to not feel responsible for their situations or behaviour.
Research in the field of Psychology defines the victim mentality as learned helplessness. They do not feel capable nor responsible to change their circumstances. If you have a conversation with a person with a victim mentality, you can notice how the conversation is centred on the unfairness of their problems.
People with a victim mentality tend to give up on life, thinking that everything is out of their hands, believing that they are not capable to change it, or they just do not want to put in the effort. They accept being helpless. They have an external locus of control, meaning, that they believe they have no control on their life and no responsibility for their behaviour and feelings.
‘Self-pity is easily the most destructive of non-pharmaceutical narcotics. It is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates the victim from reality’
– John W. Gardner
People with a victim mentality draw attention to themselves, because others think they need help. However, the only thing they are after is attention and affection. So no matter what you try and do to help, it will not work. Each time a person with a victim mentality cries out for ‘help’, and you give them attention and affection, you are rewarding their behaviour because you gave them what they wanted. By giving them sympathy, they can create a sense of validation and continue to behave that way.
This type of mentality is dangerous for the person as well. Eventually this learned helplessness will destroy the individual’s ability to realize their own potential. Every time a situation occurs in which a person might grow, this individual decides to either avoids the problem or manipulate someone else into dealing with it for them.
‘The victim mentality dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances,
we greatly reduce our power to change them’
– Steve Maraboli
I believe we all experience this mentality once in a while. I also realize how self-destructive it can be. Humans in general are capable of so many great things. We have such a creative energy within us that I find it to be a shame when we let it go to waste with convincing ourselves that we are not capable to. Thankfully we are capable of changing our perspectives in a blink of a second. There are also trainings and teachings dedicated to let go of the victim mentality.
When thinking of letting go of the ‘victim mentality’ one can think of learning that we have the responsibility for our emotions and attitudes. We have the choice and control to remain positive in every situation. Of course there are circumstances that are out of our control and can be harmful. However, we have to power to decide how we react to them. If we work on letting go of our victim mentality, we can learn to recognize areas of life in which we have chosen to feel a victim of circumstances. Situations in which we take things personal.
These are meant to help the person change perspective on life. To create an internal locus of control, to feel responsible for their behaviour, feelings, and thoughts. It helps people see their value and potential, and it helps them to act. If we try to take the task-oriented perspective, we have the ability to change our locus of control from external to internal. This gives us back the control and responsibility. If something happens to us and we try to keep a positive mindset, accept that it has happened, and look for opportunities to grow, we can turn something negative into something positive.
Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below or send me an e-mail! I encourage you to share your experience or thoughts!