There’s a difference between being victimized and being a victim. You’re victimized when something bad happens to you. You’re a victim when you let your past define your future.
When I was 15, I was victimized by a rape. I didn’t talk about it at the time. Instead, I handled it alone. At some point I decided your opinion of me determined my value. As a result, I became a victim. The choices I made in an attempt to be “good enough” led to eating disorders and failed marriages. Somewhere in my head was a little voice that kept saying, “I can’t…I’m not…If only…” Maybe it’s easier to live the life of a victim because as a victim you always have an excuse.
I have a close friend who recently made a New Year’s Resolution. She vowed to start an exercise program and eat healthier. Her goal was to lose the 20 lbs that we’ve listened to her complain about for years. She did several things in preparation. First, she joined a health club. Then she cleaned all the junk food out of her kitchen, putting the ice cream and fudge (left over from Christmas) in the basement freezer so the kids could still have it. She even bought a journal to record her eating habits. On New Year’s Eve we went out to for one final night of gluttony. She bragged about the great things she would accomplish next year and we were ready to support her efforts.
The next morning, January 1, she got out of bed, went to the basement, got out the fudge and the ice cream and took them up to the kitchen. She carefully warmed the fudge in the microwave and then topped it with ice cream, caramel sauce and nuts. She ate it. When she was done, she called me and confessed.
“What are you thinking?!” I asked.
“It was too much pressure. I needed to end it. I’d only fail anyway. I couldn’t deal with it and truthfully, I’m relieved.”
So that’s that. She’s done. She quit before she started. My friend is another great example of living life as a victim. She has failed before so of course, she will fail again; at least that’s the convenient line of thought.
Unfortunately, it gets you nowhere. Her sources of happiness are external. They come from the things her kids do, the shows she watches on TV or the short-term reward she gets from some kind of comfort food.
Don’t do that! Stop being a victim and become a champion. You’re not defined by your past, you’re defined by the way you move forward. Make this year different. Fight for change. I promise you, through the struggle, you’ll find self-esteem, confidence and joy.
Happy New Year.