It is amazing how something so simple can so radically change our perception. Rather than trying to find some poetic way to explain it, here is a video of a cute baby seeing her mom for the first time:
Some tiny frames and glass that is curved the right way and that baby girl’s entire world changed in an instant. Suddenly, everything became clear. Something so simple caused a shift so profound.
Attitude, Glasses, and Life Sucks
I realized a while ago that my days were starting to get erratic. I was moodier than a teenage girl and more temperamental than a toddler. Some days little things would really bother me – a slight comment that probably meant nothing became the start of World War III. But other days I wouldn’t even notice that same comment.
Some days I looked at my inbox and read animosity into every e-mail, but other days I assumed the best in each person that wrote to me, including the person that started their e-mail with, “Everything you do is terrible.” Meanwhile, I’m on the other end like:
Maybe you’ve experienced the same up and down. Or, maybe you know someone that is stuck on one side. You’ve got that friend that is 100% positive, wakes up at 4:30 AM to workout, read, save some kittens, learn a foreign language, and then cook the healthiest and somehow most delicious breakfast you’ve ever seen on Instagram. Their morning is more productive than your month.
And then there is the other friend. You know the one I’m talking about – the other extreme:
So what is the difference and why do most people find themselves bouncing between the two. Remember that adorable baby with her glasses?
Victims and Victors
I was listening to a podcast several months ago that featured Tim Ferris and he was discussing the idea of a “victim vs. victor” mentality with his guest. In short, they theorized that people’s attitudes either fall into one camp or the other. You either view the world as a victim or you view the world as a victor. These are the “glasses” through which we see everything. One of them enhances our view while the other distorts it.
A person with a victim mentality sees the world through a great distortion. It is the drunk goggles you needed to wear in driver’s education x100. In the victim mentality you can take a compliment and turn it into the worst thing anyone has ever said to you. It’s a sort of depressing “superpower” – you can jump to conclusions and catastrophe faster than a speeding bullet. Your boss took more than ten minutes to respond to your e-mail? She hates you. You are probably getting fired. Not only that, but after you get fired she is going to call any other employer and tell them how terrible you are so they don’t hire you. Then, you are going to be out of a job and your family will all leave you and you will wind up on the street somewhere trying to do magic to make some extra money. But you don’t know any magic, so people just laugh at you instead.
It sounds ridiculous, but most of us have done it at least once in our lives. That is the victim mentality. Everything that can go wrong…only goes wrong for us. Everyone else is living a happy, carefree life while we suffer.
To be clear, I’m not talking about a mental illness like depression. People can certainly feel these things as a result of a chemical imbalance and psychological disposition and that kind of mentality needs medical treatment and counseling. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about people that have chosen to see themselves as victims to life. To circumstances. To the boss. To the economy. To the unkind words that people say. To the favor they felt never got repaid.
That kind of mentality is easy because we never have to be accountable for our actions. It is always someone else’s fault. We don’t need to be self reflective. We have all the answers:
Friend: Hey, Robert, what happened with your job?
Robert: I got fired! Because other people suck, that’s why. They pushed me out! They conspired against me! I think at one point someone stole my launch so my blood sugar would get low and I wouldn’t be able to do my job!
Friend: *slowly backs away quietly*
To the person with a victim mentality, one this is certain – no matter what happens:
See? That is so easy. It almost seems heroic. It is me against the world! I’ve got not friends but I’m going to trudge on and make the best of what will ultimately be a tragic situation. Don’t cry for me.
Those people rarely get anything done and never experience success. They can’t see situations, people, and other circumstances clearly. A mindset like that makes it impossible to hit your goals.
4:30 Wake Up Call
So what about that other friend, the one that makes success look so effortless? They’ve chosen a different lens. They see themselves as victorious – as conquers. They see the world as it is.
This isn’t the same as the person that sees the world with rose colored glasses. That sort of false positive is just another distortion. Refusing to see areas of improvement because we are afraid of being let down, being sad, or being disappointed won’t help us get anywhere, either.
A victor sees the good, the bad, and recognizes the landscape of life and how to navigate both. He or she says, “Yup – life sucks sometimes. And life is also great sometimes. And in both of those places I can still succeed. I am the master of my destiny.”
A victor refuses to give control of their lives to the fickle impulse of someone else. Think about it, do you really want to allow your co-workers to determine your mood inside and outside of the office? How miserable of a life is that?
“Man, I hope Tom is in a good mood today. When he comes in upset he is awful to deal with. Then, through no fault of my own, I get super upset and frustrated. Then I don’t do my job as well. Then I go home and I fight with my spouse and I’m distant from my kids and it is all Tom’s fault.”
Ridiculous, right? But many people – thousands and hundreds of thousands, actually – live that way every day. But not the victorious.
In fact, some of the bravest people I know are people that have been really hurt by others, not in the superficial “hurt because you didn’t invite me to your birthday party” kind of way, but like in real emotional and physical ways. Yet, they refuse to even allow that to shape their destiny.
They don’t call themselves victims, they call themselves “survivors.” Because a survivor made a choice to carry on, to overcome, to be better than the circumstance and to not let the actions of another destroy them. It acknowledges that something crappy happened – maybe something really terrible – but it isn’t going to destroy them. They aren’t going to give whoever hurt them that kind of control. They are brave.
And you can be, too.
Every morning you get to put on a pair of glasses (and some of us actually have to put on glasses. Large, black, hipster glasses) and you get to decide how you will see the world. You can wake up and be a victim, scared to face another day or you can stare the upcoming 15-18 hours in the face and say, “Today, I’m going to conquer you.”
That’s a great way to wake up. That’s a path to freedom. That is victory.