Victim: one that is tricked, duped, mistreated, injured, destroyed, or sacrificed.
Victor: one who defeats an enemy or opponent – a winner.
We all know what it feels like to be a victim of something. Being victimized makes us feel powerless, defeated, and demoralized. But to be the victor, we feel strong, powerful, and confident.
Could being a victim or victor be a choice?
I believe in many circumstances, yes, it is our choice. Whether we are the victim or the victor depends a great deal on our Locus of Control (LOC). Those with more external LOC blame other people or bad luck for things that happen and feel they have little to no control. Those with stronger internal LOC hold themselves responsible for the things that transpire in their lives and feel that they are in control. Let me give you a few examples:
A person with more external LOC may say, “I can’t eat healthy because my spouse is a meat and potatoes person and that’s what I have to cook.” Or, “I can’t exercise because I have a stressful job and after work, I drive my kids around to all their activities.” These people tend to be the victims of their surroundings or circumstances. They are the people who show up late for a meeting but blame the traffic for their lateness.
Conversely, a person with more internal LOC may say, “My spouse prefers meat and potatoes so I make and eat a small amount of those, but I fill my plate with vegetables.” Or, “While my kids are at soccer practice, I will walk on the track next to their practice field.” These people hold themselves responsible for not adequately planning for traffic instead of blaming the traffic .
When we point the finger at others or circumstances, we absolve ourselves of responsibility and fall victim, feeling weak and overwhelmed. Taking responsibility, on the other hand, helps us become in command and triumphant.
Being a victim of our circumstances holds us back from meaningful and purposeful growth and change. It keeps us stuck in our muck. But, through choosing to take control over our thoughts and circumstances and orienting to a more internal LOC, we propel ourselves forward and progress with decisive action.
A very poignant example of this concept comes from the story of Viktor Frankl who was a Jewish prisoner in the death camps in Nazi Germany. Frankl’s capturers treated him horribly, as you can imagine. However, Frankl decided that the one thing the German guards could not take from him was his freedom to choose his thoughts. Between his torture and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.
Frankl chose not to be disparaged or victimized. He helped other prisoners find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence. They did not let the atrocities steal the freedom of their thoughts and they refused to fall victim to their atrocious situation. Liberated after three years in concentration camps, Frankl returned to his home country of Vienna, where he lectured on psychological healing. He wrote his world-famous book entitled, Man’s Search for Meaning.
I often wonder whether it was happenstance that “Viktor” was Frankl’s first name… perhaps it was no coincidence at all. Choosing to be the victor will help you take control of the lifestyle habit you want to change whether it is losing weight, starting to exercise, or eating better.
We can orient ourselves to a more internal LOC by taking responsibility for our thoughts, emotions, action, and subsequently our circumstances.
What will you choose… Victim or “Viktor?”
Maria McConville is a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of the weight-loss workbook, Lose the Diet – Find Yourself for sale on Amazon.com. To learn more about Maria and her book, visit her website: www.balancedbodynourishment.com.
Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate
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