A Victimhood Mindset

Andre Smithson was struggling with interviews. On paper, he should not be having problems. His GPA was strong as were his activities. Where he was lacking was his experience. He had decided not to pursue an internship because he was frightened by having to relocate for the summer.

After much frustration, Andre decided to turn to his advisor/mentor, Happy Sanchez, for help. She agreed to do a mock interview with him. This was something that Happy had done a lot since she had a long career in the business world before taking advantage of a voluntary separation agreement. That led to adjunct faculty at her alma mater.

When Happy interviewed Andre, she used a number of behavior-type of questions. When the interview was over, Happy made a quick decision to reveal to Andre what she felt the problem was: “Andre, I think I know what your problem is. In almost every answer to my questions, you described yourself as a victim.”

Research has shown that those who see themselves as victims have a tendency to pursue the following:

  • Constantly looking for validation from others for personal injustices inflicted on them
  • Think of themselves as being morally superior
  • Indifferent to the needs of others
  • Dwelling on past grievances.

You may think these things don’t describe you, but that’s the image you create with your answers.”

Andre was taken aback: “WOW!! I never thought of myself that way. I know that I’m not that confident. That’s why I look for feedback from others. I have to admit I don’t react well to what they have to say sometimes.”

 Happy responded by saying: “Why don’t you take my feedback as a test for how to break out of your victim mindset? What I want you to do is start thinking of everything you do as an opportunity to improve. Turn the slights into growth opportunities. You’re in a profession that believes in continuous improvement. You just need to practice that on yourself.”

Andre responded: “I never thought of that.”

“One more thing,” Happy interjected. “Start thinking of your worst critics as being your growth mentors. When people stop giving you constructive criticism, they have essentially given up on you.”

Victimhood has become a national crisis. Playing to the public’s grievances seems to win TV ratings. We seem to have gone from a society of hope to one of despair due in part to leaders whose visions are built on creating followers with victimhood mindsets. When you think about the leaders who have taken our country through its most troubling times, they were leaders who instilled confidence for a better future. The same applies to leadership at every organizational level in every organizational level in every type of organization.

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“We must stop this incessant victimhood mentality.
Somebody else will not fix things.
Somebody else will not make me healthy
Somebody else will not make me happy.
These things are my responsibility.
Not the neighbors,
not the government’s,
not the church or the civic club.”  – Joel Salatin (Farmer/Author)

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