Victim mentality is a pervasive view that life is just a series of problems, one after the other. Life happens to us. What we experience is our lot in life and there is nothing we can do about it. “Victim mentality” people think that successful people got there overnight by luck. It’s like the epitaph I read about. On the tombstone, it reads, “I expected this.”
In contrast, I defy the idea that we are helpless in life – that only the lucky can be successful and that only someone else can make a real, significant, difference in the world. Life is 20% what happens to us and 80% how we respond to those events. Life is not a series of problems. It is a series of opportunities.
Let me explain what I mean. Often the events in life that we think are problems are the very events that can be used to impact those around us. Sharing our stories on what we have overcome is the inspiring message. The story of the athlete who never lost a match just isn’t nearly as compelling as the story of the athlete who had polio and won once.
Before you think that I’m saying you should be happy that you have problems, let me clarify. Problems are not something to get excited about, but they are something we should use to propel us forward. Often it is the problems we overcome that forge who we become. For example, the people who make the biggest difference helping cancer patients, frequently are those who have survived cancer or had a loved one contract cancer. Glenn Cunningham was burned so severely that he was told he would never walk again. Not only did he walk again, but he broke a world record for the one mile run in 1934.
The theme for this week is significance. There is really only one thing preventing you from living a life of greater significance and that is your frame of mind. If you go through life thinking you’re stuck, guess what? You’ll stay stuck.
Arnold Palmer had a plaque on the wall that reads:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
When you get to the end of your life, you will ask yourself if your life mattered. From experience, I can tell you that any answers you give that your life naturally mattered to the people around you will feel like hollow excuses. The time to make your life matter is now, and the first step you need to make is to believe that you are in control of your destiny.
Your life matters and you can have a significant impact in the world.