How can we overcome a victim mentality and begin to see a clear direction and success in our midst? How can we learn to approach life as a thriving member of society as opposed to simply a survivor just getting by day by day? A first step in this process is to cultivate empowerment and faith, no matter what our circumstances. When we lack feelings of empowerment we can feel out of control with no clear handle on dealing with life. We can feel we lack the power necessary to influence a situation and alter our course. For instance, on the job, many people start to feel like they have no say in the systemic process or functions of an organization. So, when difficulties arise, people say, “why are they doing things this way, why don’t they do this…or that…?” This is similar to blaming or criticizing others for our difficulties, and these types of questions lead to a victim mentality. People can begin to feel helpless and irrelevant in the bigger organizational or economic picture. Salvaging empowering and inspiring experiences in this type of situation is crucial. We must look toward any self-development or self-growth activity we can find to continue cultivating personal development. People also asked these “why” questions based on being hurt from general relationships that have gone array. People say “…why me, or why is this happening to me….What did I ever do to them?” We may feel as if we will never get out of a troubling situation and will always be merely surviving and just getting by, or that we’ll never catch a lucky break.
When we only rely on others, wait on external circumstances, or divert our focus from the situation at hand we begin taking a back seat through the journey of life. External causation provides only mutual resentment and stagnation. We must begin believing that “luck” and “fortune” are more than mere chance, and begin feeling empowerment and the responsibility needed to begin improving or mastering a situation. Recognize your Locus of Control? The psychological term Locus of Control relates to a person’s belief about the level of control in their life. It explains that a person’s perception and interpretation of what controls their good or bad future outcomes is either internally focused or externally focused. If we have an external locus of control, we assign reason and responsibility to external circumstances. The environment or current context is the deciding factor for the outcome or consequence we experience, essentially we are not in control. If we fail a exam, we may express, “this teacher was horrible, he didn’t teach me the material, and the test was confusing and was composed of ambiguous questions.” Or if we get an “A” we may believe, “this test was easy, and the teacher explained it so well, not wonder I got an A.” If we have an internal locus of control on the other hand, we will take personal responsibility for the outcome or results received. For instance, we may say about our poor score, “I didn’t study enough and wasn’t prepared.” “I didn’t take notes and I should’ve gone to class more consistently.” Or if we did well, we may say, “I really studied hard and really put in the effort necessary to get that grade.” The implications of our locus of control is very impacting on our behavior and self-esteem. An internal locus of control gives us the means and capability to do something about our situation and change the outcome next time. We will develop the self-trust and belief that we are intelligent and capable of solving problems and making decisions that better our life. If our frame of reference is that external circumstances control our outcomes, we will most likely feel out of control and unable to alter our situation. A concept in psychology called Learned Helplessness reflects this idea that with enough experiences where we lack ability to alter or change the troubling outcome, it can lead us to accept and expect that we no longer have control of our future. We become “helpless” and give-up. Helplessness and hoplesness will be the end of attaining our goals, and this we cannot let happen. Taking the responsibility that is rightfully yours We must feel empowered and in control of our life. Taking responsibility is a first step in resolution and empowerment. This means taking responsibility for our mistakes, which may include forgiveness and working through difficult emotions. It also means taking on the power of lofty roles and expectations that are bestowed upon us, and using these opportunities appropriately and effectively. It comes down to taking action and taking that next step to continue cultivating growth, wisdom, and confidence. We cannot just wait around for the “big break” or ideal circumstances that give us certainty the situation with be a sure thing. We can to believe that certainty is imminemt by learning to remove fear and anxiety about uncertainty, and befriending the excitement and potential that comes with creativity and free will. We can start to feel empowered by asking ourselves, “what can I do,” or “how can I improve the situation.” Starting to examine ourselves first, provides empowerment, as we can ultimately only change ourselves and our attitude. We have no control over other people and the decisions they make, so a fundamental place to start for growth and resolution is within ourselves. This inner-growth can lead to outer change. Breaking away from negative relationships and environments can begin the process of revealing our potential for thriving, and thrust confidence to the forefront of our thoughts. We must stop waiting for external approval and validation if we truly believe in a dream. The time is now and we can create the circumstances, resources, and network needed for success by continually taking strides to grow in self-awareness, confidence, and faith.