Victim thinking is mental poison. It is the primary cause of personal failure and successful people cleanse their minds of it like germaphobes wash their hands. It is the list of excuses we repeat to ourselves for our lack of effort toward what we could and should be trying to achieve.
They are the reasons why we don’t get a better education, seek a better job, grow spiritually, learn to manage our finances, lose weight, exercise, volunteer to help others, start a business, go on a mission, promote our invention, ask a person out on a date, go to rehab, give to God’s work, or learn to fly or sail or cook or to use a new computer program.
Victims blame their lack of effort on their personal deficiencies, on their difficult circumstances and ultimately on God. Their deficiencies range from intellectual challenges, to physical limitations, to mental anguish. Their circumstances range from bad referees, to teachers who don’t like them, to people who have betrayed them, to their cultural heritage, to being too young, too old or too middle age. Ultimately they blame God for either not existing, or for being bad or for being bad to them. So, they wallow in self-pity and lack of effort and their poisonous thinking perpetuates their failure.
Joseph, in the Bible, had the greatest reasons of anyone to accept victim thinking. He was hated, betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers. He was betrayed again by his masters in Egypt, falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison. Yet he refused to drink the poison of victim thinking.
As a slave Joseph made every effort to make his situation better and to benefit his masters. The result was that he rose to become the successful CEO of his master’s wealthy household in the greatest empire of ancient times. After he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he continued to make every effort to make is situation better and to benefit his fellow prisoners and the master of the jail. The result is that he rose to become the manager of the jail and it ran better than ever.
Joseph was then promoted to be the Minister of Finance for Egypt after he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream about the coming famine. Joseph continued to make every effort to make Egypt successful and he succeeded. When his brothers came from Canaan to buy grain so they could survive the famine, he tested them to see if they had any changes of heart about how they treated one and another and how they treated their father. When he was satisfied, he revealed himself to them and brought his whole family to live and prosper in Egypt.
Joseph revealed his empowered truth thinking when he told them not to be worried about what they had done to him because he said, “God sent me ahead of you…to save your lives…” (Genesis 45:7). In the words, “God sent me,” Joseph revealed his thinking about three subjects: God, circumstances and himself.
Joseph believed that God was good, despite bad experiences. He affirmed God’s hand in the whole difficult journey, but he expressed that it was ultimately for good.
Joseph believed that his circumstances were preparation for his purpose. He was sent into slavery and to prison. Those were his circumstances, but he viewed them as the road to his purpose not the excuses for his failures or lack of effort.
Joseph viewed himself as a creator who was created in the image of God. That was the classic Hebrew worldview that came from their tradition of the creation of the world and of man. So, Joseph believed that the good God sent him into the circumstances of slavery and prison and then to the heights of power in Egypt to create the best value he could. He thought and acted like a creator of value in his most difficult circumstances and that led to his rise to great success.
Mother Angelica, the founder of the $64 million dollar a year and 500 plus employee Catholic television network EWTN, died on March 27 at the age of 92. She was a force. She built monasteries and TV studios and impacted millions of people. She was devout, conservative, entrepreneurial and witty. In an obituary for the Wall Street Journal, James Haggerty gave this story about her advice to the lovelorn. “People will rave and rant and cry: ‘Oh, he left me! I’m going to die.’ No, you are not. Just shut up and you’ll feel better.” Her point, of course, was to quit wallowing in victim thinking.
So, what’s your victim tape that you are playing in your head for why you can’t? What are you saying about God, and your circumstances and yourself? It’s time to wash your mind of the poison and to replace it with empowered truth thinking. Here is a great start. Tell yourself these truths.
God is good. My circumstances are preparation for my purpose. I am a creator.
Go forth and conquer.