by Dr. Linda Sapadin
You Don’t Have To Be a Victim
It’s easy to feel like a victim when someone bigger, more powerful or more outspoken than you tells you what you should be doing. You may believe that you have no other option but to fold. Yet, I am here to tell you that you always have an option.
You may not be able to change the situation, but one option that nobody can take away from you is your personal power to interpret the event anyway you’d like. If you feel stuck and don’t know how to do this, turn to either the wisest person you know for advice or to the youngest person you know for creativity.
If you’re wondering how a 3-year-old can teach you anything, here’s an example of what my youngest son Daniel taught me when he was still in nursery school. Danny was a determined, self-assured little boy. He seemed to be that way from the day he was born. He knew what he liked. He knew what he wanted. He knew how to avoid being a victim.
One day, Danny’s older brothers and dad were glued to the television set for a playoff game. A bored Danny was doing everything he could to distract them from their activity. After a fair amount of warnings, we all had had it with his antics. I decided it was time to take action. Short-tempered myself, I pulled Danny down the hallway; then shoved him into his room. (Not my finest moment. I admit.) As I slammed the door behind him, I hissed, “now you stay there!”
Without missing a beat, Danny opened the door, slammed it in my face and shouted, “you can’t come in!”
As I walked away, I could only admire his moxie. Though I was powerful enough to make him stay in his room, I had no control over his personal power. Danny refused to be the victim. He reframed the situation and made it a punishment for me!
Coming from a background in which I felt easily intimidated by others, I was blown away that Danny could do this at such a young age. What a great role model for me! Since then reflecting on this incident has been my confidence booster in many a tough situation.
Now let me share with you another story about a kid who also refused to be a victim but her dad wasn’t savvy enough to be impressed by her smarts.
Walter was grouchy the day he picked up 6-year-old Amelia from soccer practice. They were in the car for just 3 minutes when he noticed in the rearview mirror that Amelia had not buckled her seat belt. Walter barked, “Stop jumping around. Get that seat belt on. And sit still!”
Amelia complied. A few minutes later, however, he noticed her sitting with arms folded and an impish look on her face. Walter demanded to know what was so funny. Amelia spit it out: “You can make me sit still, but I’m still jumping around on the inside.”
Too bad Walter didn’t get it. Too bad he wasn’t impressed with the fact that Amelia could comply and defy at the same time, ending up with one sensational solution. Walter just couldn’t get beyond his belief that Amelia had been disrespectful. Hence, when they arrived home, she was punished for the transgression of “jumping around on the inside.”
Now, what about you? Is there a situation in which you think of yourself as the helpless victim when maybe, just maybe, you can view it another way? Before you immediately say ‘no way, this situation is different’, think of both the wisest person you know and the most creative child you know. Ask them what they think.