Positive Thinking

Victim Posturing Begets Victimhood

I stumbled upon a couple of comments in a recent article at the Washington Times that brilliantly illustrates a vital concept:


The narrowest lesson to be gleaned from this exchange is “don’t disparage mechanics to a mechanic”. To see it in slightly broader terms, this would apply to any professional service: bartenders, nurses, carpenters, etc. Tell your bartender you think the other bartender is a jerk and what kind of service do you think you will get? Opening the aperture wider still, this applies to all relationships… think dating. This is why disparaging your ex is a poor topic of conversation on a first, second or tenth date… you end up looking like a whiner, and may end up getting more of the same from this person.

But there is yet another, still broader, lesson. Psychologists call it self-fulfilling prophecy; the New Age and Positive Thinking movements call it ‘creating your reality’. Don’t let the esoteric sound of that throw you: it is as down-to-earth as your mechanic. It goes something like this: if you hold on to the belief that you are a ‘victim’, then you will get more ‘victimization’. Again, that sounds too flaky to be true, but think of the above examples. Not only does a victim mentality narrow your perceptions to match your expectations, blocking out other—possibly far more important— perceptions (this has been demonstrated scientifically 1Invisible Gorillas Aren’t Just For Radiologists), your beliefs about others can cause them to match your beliefs about them, just as this mechanic demonstrated that he will provide high estimates to people who claim that mechanics provide high estimates. Victim posturing begetting ‘victimization’.

So where do you show up as a victim?

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