We speak of victims (other than those of violent crimes) in our society with some disdain. Unfortunately, many of us haven’t a notion on how the philosophy finds its way into our lives, including our ability to lead.
Anger is the first sign that someone or something has crossed our boundary. If we’re not careful, we’ll blame the outside influence.
Where do we blame?
- Driving on the highway and someone cuts us off.
- Someone fails or makes a costly mistake on a project.
- Picking a side in a battle.
- We’ve been lied to and are disappointed.
- Poor communication.
If any of those situations make us angry and we point a finger, we’re putting ourselves in the position of victim. Someone else has our power and unless they ‘right’ the situation, they’ll maintain our power. It can be long past the time it happened, and we can re-live the anger as though it just happened, five minutes ago.
Under any of those circumstances, we look for others to join our team, to agree with us and give us validation when we need to be proven right. We remain a victim, because all of that team approval is created from outside of ourselves to feed our insecurities, which are in resistance to someone or a situation. And it blinds us as leaders when we make an enemy with a purpose….if we have to ‘overcome’ what holds us down or back, we’re missing an opportunity for self-awareness. The focus is skewed, because it is on the ‘other’….the entity we blame for our current circumstances.
Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.
If we practice self-awareness, we may get angry at first, but quickly realize, more often than not, we’re actually angry with ourselves, Perhaps, we made poor choices, we’re beyond compassion, we are taking others personally, we had prior awareness that someone was not capable, we were not honest with ourselves or others in our communication, we didn’t want to look bad, flawed and so on.
Taking responsibility for our words and actions takes us out of victimization.
As much as there is disdain for victimization, our society thrives on it. Some fall into the victim/martyr role when it suits them; others are tied up in the triangle of being a victim, rescuer and persecutor depending on the situation. Turn on the news, a love song or a soap opera and witness the magnitude of this dynamic.
Victims use the words ‘always and never’ when describing others and themselves. The more we blame everything outside of us for the situation we are in, the less power we have to change it.
Self-awareness requires an ability to see ourselves honestly.
Want inner peace? Happiness? Fulfillment? Or how about less stress, anxiety and negativity ruling our day? We cannot wear a mask of perfection or have a wall, which hides our own flaws, our reasons behind our decisions and any truth that is difficult to admit. Transparency with ourselves is what leads us out of the darkness, the heavy weight, we carry when we fall into victimization.
I’ve met leaders who are programmed for self-sabotage. These individuals live with the fear of being found out, and therefore create situations, which they believe will absolve them of any possible downside, only to have it come around and hit them between the eyes. Self-awareness is key to seeing the motivation behind how we operate; when we know our WHY to what drives us and can admit to ourselves, we’ve solved a bigger part of the problem–because we can now take different action.
Self-awareness allows us to be compassionate, honest and direct with ourselves and others.
It can take us farther in leadership.