Consider this scenario: you need information from a senior person sitting in a remote location. It does not come to you on time. It is a repeated occurrence. It prevents you from performing at your best. It also affects the performance of your team because the client is not getting what they need fast enough. You can either blame the information supplier, or you can look at it as an obstacle that you need to clear so that it does not happen again.

The moment you choose to go with the first, please note that you are shutting the door on actively addressing this to look for an optimum, long-lasting solution. We are faced with many such situations in our day-to-day lives. For most of them, we use a band-aid approach and deal with it at the moment to get past it.

Think about this: how often do you blame an external person or circumstance for a pain point you feel at work? If the answer is quite often, you are suffering from a victim mentality. While in the short term this attitude can help you shun responsibility, it can hurt you in the long run. What it does is lets you stay put and cause inaction.

The moment you shift the blame on something outside of you, what you are trying to do is clear yourself from all accountability towards it. Deep down this comes from a belief of feeling powerless, or that you cannot trust people or that things are always difficult for you. Notice your internal chatter and try and identify when it is positive and when is it harmful. Only you can bring a shift in your mindset. Experiment with it and try changing your mindset over small things and see how it works out for you.

Most people would not choose to be a victim. It is something we become because it works. Maybe the attention, sympathy or a listening ear that a person gets from playing the victim card validates that ‘they’ are doing everything right. If things were different, they would be thriving. It becomes a technique to look good in the middle of any failure. People inadvertently start using it as a strategy to deal with life. It may show up as staying safe in one’s comfort zone, numbing oneself, finding company, getting attention or avoiding being responsible for something in one’s life.

Know that by doing this you give away your power to change the situation. There are always many ways of dealing with any scenario no matter how hopeless it may seem. The first step though is to ask yourself, what is it that you need to do, think, act or be differently. Once you put the onus on yourself, you will see ideas, patterns and solutions emerge.

When the person in the earlier example chooses the second option and decides to remove the obstacle, he realises he needs to get his boss involved. Not because it was irritating not to get information on time, but by not reporting this early enough, he was putting his reputation in jeopardy. He could get in trouble for not addressing this soon enough.

Catching yourself as soon as you notice the blame game begin is a great place to start to get out of the victim mindset.

Bhavna Dalal
Bhavna Dalal

(Views expressed are personal. )

The author is founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, a Bengaluru-based global leadership development company. She is a leadership development specialist, an ICF certified executive coach and author of the book Team Decision Making.

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