As we continue to discuss victim and responsible viewpoints, let’s begin again with definitions. Victim is the viewpoint that something is being done to me. Responsible is the viewpoint that I am the cause for my experience. As I explain in chapter 2 of The Compassionate Samurai and chapter 4 of If How-To’s Were Enough We Would All Be Skinny, Rich and Happy, my experience is the result of the choice or choices I have made.
When considering victim and responsible viewpoints, it is helpful to be aware that there are benefits and prices for both. At first, some people might wonder how there could be any… benefit to living out of a victim viewpoint. After all, being a victim does not feel good. But if there were nothing to be gained, no one would live this way. So, suppose you lived life from this perspective. What are some benefits that make living out of a victim viewpoint attractive? As a victim you can gain sympathy from the people around you. You can get a lot of attention. Another benefit is that you don’t have to work hard because, after all, that’s just the way you are. As a victim you don’t have to face the discomfort that comes with change. You can feel justified about why you can’t do something, while your explanation for why you can’t do it keeps you looking good in the eyes of others. As you can see, the victim viewpoint is often quite reasonable!
For all these benefits, however, there are huge prices to be paid for living out of a victim viewpoint. One of the major costs is how you feel about yourself. Living this way makes you feel bad; it lowers your self-esteem and self-respect. Ultimately, as a victim you cease to grow toward your true potential. You may discover that your life is stalled out as you find yourself unable to fulfill your dreams or achieve the things that matter most in your life. Add to that a lack of respect from others, and you can see how living out of the victim viewpoint is, in reality, very costly.
The choice to change from this viewpoint won’t be made until you realize how high a price you are paying for living this way — a price that is more expensive than you are willing to pay. In order to change, probe deeply into all the costs for living out of the victim viewpoint. Search beyond the obvious. Aside from your own life, look at the costs to all those you touch, such as your significant other, your children, other family members, and your subordinates.