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Victimized minus the Victim Mentality

Dr Matt:

My name is Dominic, I live in South Dakota. I am 27 and single.

It hase been a long day at work! I received 7 stiches after getting hit by a rotorhammer about  a month ago. The hammer weighs 40lbs and uses a 4 foot long bit. It is much larger than what is needed and very difficult to handle.

In any case, after nearly having my skull fractured and recieving 7 stiches just above my eyebrow, I told my boss the drill was not safe and I do not feel comfortable using it. Today, when my boss directed me to use it again, I told my boss I felt uncomfortable using it, as it is proned to jerk right out my hand. Anyway, I was told very loudly in a public area that if I can't do a simple task like drill holes, I should pack up and go home.

I think my boss will keep pushing the issue and insist that I do what he directs, even though I feel it is unsafe. At my work, I feel like outcast, a dead man walking. What do you recommend that I do? 


Dear Dominic:

In the very first chapter of Changing Your Stripes, I write the following words:

So . . . Life is a Set Up: welcome to earth! Get used to it, get over it, and get on with it! However you respond—whether gracious or grumpy—you will act according to the disposition of the animal that you are, presently. Anyone might respond well when surrounded by loving and patient people, but what comes out of you when the going gets tough? (And by the way, the going will get tough . . . that's life.)

The way you respond to unkind or abusive acts, the way you respond to unexpected events of accident, nature, or mechanical failure . . . reveals who you are at the heart. How you handle hardships exposes the very core of your character. Making a firm commitment to Changing Your Stripes means continually asking this essential question:

* * * * *
As bad things happen to me,
and I am Set Up by Situations beyond my control,
how will I respond to these trials and troubles
to further my greatest growth of character?
.* * * * *.

This is a most critical question because the way you respond to whatever life throws at you determines whether life IS a drudgery or a delight! In the end, your happiness is not determined by what happens to you, but by how you respond to what happens to you. (Changing Your Stripes, page 2)

Dominic, you can't control the behavior coming out of your boss, but you can directly control your "responses" to whatever the boss does; this is where your focus must be, else you will be tempted to see yourself as victim of the boss's bad behavior, and a victim of your circumstance.

The truth is . . . "we are all victimized" (CYS, page 32) by the rude or abusive behavior of others—we are all victims of circumstance. This IS the very meaning of the phrase: "Life is a Set Up" (CYS, page 1), which is the title of the first chapter of my book.

Thus, the dividing difference is between those who succeed, versus those who succumb, is discovered in the uptake of the Victim Mentality—again, all human beings are victimized by a world that supplies:

        * Inconsiderate or Abusive Acts, freely chosen by Others,
        * Accidents due to Human Error,
        * Untimely movements of Mother Nature,
        * Consequences of Mechanical Failures, and
        * Bodily Defects and Diseases that often occur beyond our consent.

So, this is what I recommend that you do, Dominic:

Realize that "Life is a Set Up"—it this way by Divine Design. All human beings have the God-given ability to choose good or evil. The fact that people can freely choose to do acts of unkindness and abuse is one key reason why Life a Set Up—and the adversity that presently confronts you.

Life is a Set Up! Get used to it, get over it, and get on with it!

This is the Test of Life that God has given you; the trick to living richly is to faithfully endure being victimized (as we all are) and move forward without having a "victim mentality"—a pathetic perspective that Satan is enticing you to take up! If you dwell on your sorry state of victimhood, and take up the "victim mentality," then Satan gains his victory over you.

While we see and feel unkindness and abusive behavior empirically, the Test of Life primarily occurs upon an unseen battlefield! The fundamental war that we wage is not "against flesh and blood, but . . . against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness" (Eph. 6: 12).

Keeping this broad perspective in mind, is to abide in the True Vine (John 15: 1-5). Thus, the right response for you and me—the response that pleases the Lord—is to face all unfairness and affliction with faith in God, and patiently endure tough times as Job did (Job 1: 21, 22).

The words of Neil Maxwell offer insight:

* * * * *
Endurance involves much more than just putting up with a situation;
Patient Endurance is more than pacing up and down within the
cell of circumstance. True Enduring represents not merely
the passage of time, . . . but the Passage of Soul.
.* * * * *.
(Changing Your Stripes, page 43)

Beyond "Patient Endurance" our "Passage of Soul" will mean that we embrace an attitude of "joy" amid our afflictions—precisely because we see the Big Picture of God's Plan. With the proper perpective, we will see tough situations as did the Apostle James:

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1: 2, 3).

Think upon the suffering that the Savior endured for your sake, and you will see your trials and temptations as being a small drop compared to the "bitter cup" that the Lord drank. The Apostle Paul saw the Big Picture and the Divine Plan of Life, therefore saw his personal suffering as a "light affliction" (2 Cor. 4: 17). Here are some of the "light afflictions" that Paul patiently endured:

"I am in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, . . . in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness" (2 Cor. 11: 23-27).

And while suffering all these things, Paul still tended to the needs of the Church:

"Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches"
(2 Cor. 11: 28).

A central reason why I cite the torturous experience of Viktor Frankl in my book (CYS, page 12), is because his personal suffering has surpassed 99% of all human beings, yet, he did NOT take up the "victim mentality." Instead, he searched for meaning and purpose in his suffering:

“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life . . . The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to his life . . . Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or forego the opportunities of attaining the values that a difficult situation may afford him. . . . man's inner strength may raise him above his outward fate. . . . Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.” (Changing Your Stripes, page 12)

In every adversity, . . . there is opportunity—the chance to obtain value and deeper meaning in Life. Even under appalling abuse, there is liberty within; you are the ultimate author of your inner responses of mind and emotion. Especially under appalling abuse, the lesson of Life that the Lord would have you learn are directly before you--in your affliction.

The principles described in "Changing Your Stripes" are important to understand, if you desire to live life to its fullest—to include having happy and harmonious relations with others generally, and especially a great relationship with a significant other.

Toward attaining the goal of enjoying great relationships, pay particular attention to the "tell-tale signs" (CYS, pages 173 & 194) that signal a person's departure from Light and Love—a betrayal of one's own sense of what is right.

It is so vital to get a clear conception of these tell-tale signs, for when we are NOT aware of them, we can live life with a personal problem, yet we may not realize that we have a problem—this is the state of mind called "self-deception" (CYS, page 174, 175, 192).

By seeing the tell-tale signs, you can catch yourself, and correct your course. You can avoid the blindness that spontaneously comes with taking up a victim mentality—blind to the Big Picture, blind to the Lord's purpose for passing through tough times.

All the best,

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

* * * * * * *

The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
is ultimately a matter of
mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody 

"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
making you a new kind of creature capable of communicating
with calm, even as storms of contention swirl.

If these principles resonate and ring true,
then . . . this book is for you!

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Changing Your Stripes is a
unique reference book that will help
you understand, . . .
and solve all of
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Changing Your Stripes

Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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