“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!” ~ Steve Maraboli
I was doing some research recently and I came across some interesting facts about the man lovingly referred to as “St. Patrick.” Now, St. Patrick is known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, BUT did you know that he was not even from Ireland or Irish!? The man who would come to be known as St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland, was born in Britain and his actual birth name was Maewyn Succat, with the name Patrick later taken on during his future religious journey.
When Patrick was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates. They brought him to Ireland where he was sold into slavery and his job was to tend sheep. Patrick came to view his enslavement as God’s “test” of his faith. During his six years of captivity, he became deeply devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. He also grew increasingly determined to escape and later return to bring Christianity to Ireland someday, to serve the people who enslaved him with a heart of love.
This story resonated with me because I see people all the time whom feel “enslaved” by their past or present circumstances and are never really able to shake the “Victim Mentality.” Instead of trying to find the hope, lessons, and benefits of the hard times, they stay enslaved to self destructive thoughts and behaviors.
So let’s think about this a little more. How do you react if something in your life doesn’t go according to plan? First of all, you will probably feel something such as pain, anger, or numbness and then the thoughts around this event start flooding in. This is what I call a “Cross Roads,” and eventually you must ask yourself, “Will I slip back into a familiar head-space of feeling sorry for myself?” “Will I allow such feelings as someone-God-and the whole world is against me!?” or will I remain positive in the hope that this event will and can be used to serve, teach others, and eventually bring growth to myself?
Believe me, the negative thoughts and patterns are so easy to get into. I used to get stuck in that destructive and self-esteem sucking way of thinking quite often. However, as I processed this behavior in myself and others, I have been able to come up with some thoughts or “tools” that help transfer a “Slave” type mentality to a “Saint/Servant” mentality.
Tool #1: Recognize the BENEFITS: The victim mentality can be VERY beneficial in the short term. I know this sounds strange but think about it, by staying in the negative you can make it all about YOU:
- You can receive attention and validation from others;
- You don’t have to take risks; and
- You don’t have to take the responsibility for your life and the tough decisions
we all sometimes have to make. No one expects things from you if you’re “sad enough.”
Through being aware of the benefits, I was able to see this “Victim Thinking” for what it was and it became easier for me to say, “No” to my destructive behavior whenever it started to creep up, making it easier to choose a different, healthier pattern of thinking.
Tool #2: Ask the “Hard” questions! The benefits above can be quite addictive, but what will the long-term consequences be of getting stuck in victim thinking?
So ask yourself:
- “What are the long-term consequences of “Victim Thinking” on my life and health?”
- “How will it hold me back from doing the things I really dream about in life?”
- “How will it affect my important relationships?”
- “How does it affect my relationship with me?”
Be honest with yourself and get the motivation necessary to change through seeing how destructive this “Victim Mentality” will affect your life over time.
Tool #3: Replace the “Victim Thinking” with something more helpful:
- Try to stay focused on the present: Being in the “Here and Now” helps you think about what you are doing vs. what has happened;
- Focus on the outward in a positive way by asking yourself, “How can I give value to one person in my life right now?”
- Know your worth! As hard as it might seem, you were created for a purpose that ONLY the YOU that is acting in a healthy, whole way can fulfill.
So wrapping it all up, when you say, “No” to unhealthy thoughts, you can safely stay within your comfort zone and you don’t have to fear failing or being rejected. Saying, “Yes” like St. Patrick did, who had every right to stay in his “Victim-Slave” mindset but didn’t, you can choose to use those hardships to serve others and ultimately deepen who you are.
If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.