Curing Victimitis

The following article was written by Michael Josephson (www.charactercounts.org/michael) and applies to golf as well as life. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and attitudes. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

Watch your thoughts; they lead to attitudes.
Watch your attitudes; they lead to words.
Watch your words; they lead to actions.
Watch your actions; they lead to habits.
Watch your habits; they form your character.
Watch your character; it determines your destiny.

These words of unknown origin tell us that our silent and often subconscious choices shape our future. Every aspect of our lives, at home and at work, can be improved if we use our power to think, reflect, and make conscious choices about our thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, and habits.

Instead, many of us think of ourselves as victims. We complain about our circumstances and what others did to us. Whatever psychological comfort there is in feeling powerless and blameless when things aren’t going right, in the end, victims lead unsatisfied lives.

We’re most vulnerable to victimitis when we’re under the influence of powerful emotions like fear, insecurity, anger, frustration, grief, or depression. These feelings are so powerrful, we believe our state of mind is inevitable. Our only hope is they will go away on their own. Yet it’s during times of emotional tumult that using our power to choose our thoughts and attitudes is most important. We can’t make pain go away, but we can refuse to suffer.

Even when we don’t like any of our choices, we do have some — once we realize we can take control. It isn’t easy, but what we do and how we choose to feel about ourselves has a profound impact on the quality of our lives. Victims may get sympathy for a while, but that isn’t enough.
Taking personal responsibility for our happiness and success can be scary, but the payoff is enormous. Although we can’t make our lives perfect, we can make them better — usually a lot better.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

*(Editor’s note: The opening poem is widely attributed to Frank Outlaw on the Web, but we’ve found no confirmation that this is the correct source. Popular quotation books including Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Roget’s International Thesaurus of Quotations, and The Harper Book of Quotations don’t include it or any reference to Frank Outlaw. In 2003, we received an e-mail message from a reader who claimed to have penned the verse and sent it in 1998 to members of an e-mail group of people living with lupus. Another e-mailer, however, noted that he first came upon the poem in 1996 at a workshop in the UK.)

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