In this blog we’ve often discussed the “false dilemma” — the unnecessary use of the word “or.”
For example, “Wealthy OR Happy” as though it’s necessarily one OR the other when of course it can and should be both. Another is “nice OR successful.” Then there’s “giver OR receiver.” And numerous others.
On the other hand there are those things that are one or the other.
One cannot be angry AND happy. A leader cannot be a manipulator AND have a loyal organization. A colleague cannot be a known gossiper AND respected.
And…a person cannot be a victim AND a victor. It truly is one OR the other.
Before I continue please allow me to establish a premise that differs from some others. There’s a teaching by many in the personal development community claiming that there are no victims and that we all — perhaps on some type of metaphysical level — always directly cause our own situations. With all respect, I disagree.
In my opinion, there certainly are victims, and through no cause of their own. People (and groups of people) are victims of natural disasters, of elements of their birth, of upbringing, of diseases, of despotic tyrants, of bullying, of horrible incidents that they did not cause.
They are victims. They did not bring it upon themselves.
However, I believe the choice they have is whether to remain a victim or do whatever they can in order to improve their lot and become victors.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed in 59 years is that there is no such thing as a victim AND a victor…simultaneously.
Many victors began as victims or had something horrible happen to them where they became victims. But at some point they made an important decision.
A friend of mine explained how many years ago he got “taken” by his partners with whom he’d cofounded a franchise. When the franchise later became a huge success he was left with crumbs. He told me that for a number of years he lived in anger, resentment, and victimhood, sharing the story with anyone and everyone who would listen.
Indeed, he was a victim. But it was only after he decided he was tired of playing that role did he go on to build other successful businesses and reach the level of success and happiness he knew he could. As he told me, so long as he remained in victim mode there was no way he could accomplish what he wanted.
Both individuals and groups — most of us have been victims of something. Sometimes little things. And other times, really, really big, horrendous, even monstrous things. And we all have the right to remain a victim and live in our victimhood.
Or, we can decide we’re no longer content with that, and do everything we can to become a victor, an overcomer, a hero of our circumstance.
One thing we cannot do is be both victim AND victor. It is definitely an OR.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts.
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Thought provoking post Bob. Interesting contrast between the OR and the AND. True that we allow OR to confine our perceptions (of self and others).
Liberating to connect with the idea that our values are not mutually exclusive! We CAN be wealthy AND happy, successful AND kind, giving AND receiving. These AND scenarios speak to what we value and reach for. The AND also provides balance, context and guidance. For example if I want to be wealthy AND happy, it means I must acquire wealth in ways that do not compromise. I must also be connected to what energizes and fulfills me.
I raised one eyebrow when you mentioned the choice to hold on to a ‘victim’ status. How true! I do have the right to stay in that space, if I CHOOSE. Tragic when we don’t see that choice. When the circumstances define us.
Great example you have provided here of someone getting ‘stuck’ in the victim role. Encouraging to note, we don’t have to stay stuck!
There is also this: when people (or animals) are too small or weak to find their voice, choice or power, we must advocate for them. Perhaps in those circumstances the victory comes when we create new options for those who cannot.
GREAT thought-generating, heart searching post! Thank you as always for starting this conversation!
WOW – thank you, Dondi. I love your amazing wisdom. I always learn from you, my treasured friend and mentor! (And your second to the last paragraph is a “love plus infinity plus one”) 🙂
Smiling because it is I who learn from you! The conversations you inspire (with posts like this one) are energizing. You have this wonderful gift for building community around the concepts. That takes learning to that level of internalized and REALIZED. Have the most beautiful day my dear friend.
Great post, Bob!
I totally agree with your thoughts as they pertain to negative things happening to each of us that are outside our ability to control. I believe that everything that happens in my life, happens for me and not to me. I believe everything I experience is meant to make me a better version of myself just as diamonds are created with pressure and gold is purified with heat. I and lastly I believe that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice (Tony Robbins said that I think).
Thank you for the always fresh perspective and insight that I’ve come to value you for.
Another perspective: You can be a victim living in the past or a visionary looking toward the future but you cannot live in both time zones at the same time.
Rick, thank you for your kind feedback. Greatly appreciate you!
Joe, what a great way to say it. Thank you!
Beautifully said, Bob.
You’re right: AND doesn’t work in these situations.
I often find that those who have experienced the THEN are the most powerful, compassionate people. A victim truly understands, at a deeper level, and can thus influence others after the THEN.
So, to all those who are currently victims, you have the opportunity before you. Don’t stay there. Where you start doesn’t define you. Be a
Victim THEN Victor.
Wow -THEN, indeed! Terrific! Thank you for adding such profound leadership wisdom to the conversation, Skip!
Super important observations Bob. Being a victim and not moving forward focuses on the past, leaving no room for the present. Success starts with a mindset. Excellent post.
Faye, those are great points! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us and being part of the conversation!
Thanks so much for this post Bob!
I’ve been pondering this idea a fair bit lately, as I’m intrigued about whether someone who has so closely identified with the role of victim can be an effective leader… I think the answer is no – for a number of reasons, including that if you are a victim, you are spending a lot of time in the past, where leaders need to provide a compelling picture of the future. But you’ve given me an extra reason! Thanks so much!
Another pair of mutually exclusive emotions I like, fear OR curiosity. You can’t be scared if you are curious about what you were scared of… this one is courtesy of Tara Mohr @tarasophia
Thank you, Rebecca. Greatly appreciate your thoughts and comments. Very well said!