We all have our hot buttons and energy-zappers. For me it’s the victim-thinkers, particularly those with a flair for the dramatic. (Picture Eeyore with drama queen tendencies.)The biggest problem with most victim-thinkers I’ve known is that they are convinced that: a) they are not victim-thinkers and, b) bad things and nasty people just magically surround them.
I worked with a classic victim-thinker and it would suck the life out of me if I let it. I had to learn to shield myself from her negativity in order to bring my best to the job. One day as she was going on and on about how tough things were, I pointed out that we both work with the same group of people at the same organization with the same set of rules and expectations. I was curious to know how I could love my job and the people I work with while she felt this way. Her response of course was to support her position (beliefs) with distorted and often exaggerated accounts of events. She actually said, “I’m not a victim. Bad things and nasty people just seem to surround me.” Fortunately for the rest of us, she left and the effect on the team was immediate and palpable.
We’ve all had bad days when things go wrong or people around us are stressed and may behave rudely. The difference between the victim and the empowered individual is all in their beliefs. Each of us has a choice to believe we are powerless and blame others or focus on what we CAN do in each situation.
Victim-thinking is debilitating because it undermines your ability to do anything about your situation. It also robs you of resiliency which is an essential trait in healthcare. All of us need resiliency to be able to bounce back when unforeseen things occur in work and in life. Resiliency feeds empowerment, critical thinking and optimism. Victim-thinking drains and immobilizes.
If you find yourself working with a victim-thinker, you have a few options.
1) Avoid them at all costs
2) Help them to re-frame the situation by pointing out that you don’t see things the same way and explain how you see things.
3) Let them know that their viewpoint (belief) is causing drain on them, you and the team.
Not everyone is going to feel comfortable confronting the victim-thinker but it may be necessary for the good of the team.
On another note: Don’t be the victim-thinker. If you find yourself slipping into victim-thinking behavior, stop, reframe the situation and make a conscious choice of empowerment and resiliency.