Personal Accountability: My 5 Anti-Victim Thinking Commitments

“Victim thinking” happens, and it looks a lot like this:

  • I’m a victim because my friends don’t understand me.
  • I’m a victim because my spouse doesn’t help out around the house.
  • I’m a victim because raising great kids is really hard work.
  • I’m a victim because I didn’t get a raise, promotion, or enough training.
  • I’m a victim because the referee made a bad call.
  • I’m a victim because someone said something that I decided is offensive.
  • I’m a victim because others make more money than I do.
  • I’m a victim because my teacher gave me a bad grade.

And this—victim thinking taken one step further:

I’m a victim because someone I care about is a victim!


QBQ! The Question Behind the Question recently received a 1 star Amazon review. With 600+ reviews, QBQ! is rated 4.5 stars out of 5, but one reader had an ax to grind—for someone else.

“My husband was ‘assigned’ this book to read by his company. It was handed out as an excuse for the company’s higher-ups to abdicate all leadership!”

Allow me to translate:

My husband’s employer doesn’t treat him fairly. How dare they make him read a book on accountability! Management should read this book because they don’t take accountability for anything! My husband works so hard—he deserves better!

Yes, I am reaching into her mind, unfairly some might think. But I think my educated guess on what she’s thinking is pretty educated after many years of studying organizational cultures, executives, managers, staff—and me.

Yes, I play victim, too.

A complaint here and a whine there, mixed with some “Pity Party” thinking, and suddenly this author/speaker/salesperson/husband/father/granddad/friend/neighbor/sibling/son is suffering from … victim-itis!

However, the cold hard brutal truth is this:

I am almost never a victim.

You see, if I am mugged in a dark alley—at that moment—I’m a victim. But I haven’t been mugged lately—or ever. Have you???

Some might believe they’ve been mugged by life, but I’d rather not buy the lie that I’m a “victim of circumstance”—a common lament by many. Isn’t it better to strive each day to practice personal accountability and resist viewing myself as a victim?

Critical question …

When I play the victim by whining and bemoaning my situation and what people have done to me or not done for me, who am I serving?

Nobody. Not even myself.

Here are my 5 anti-victim thinking commitments:

  1. I am not a victim. Period.
  2. I will work daily to displace victim thinking with accountable thinking.
  3. I will not engage in victim behaviors (whining, griping, complaining).
  4. I will teach my children and grandchildren that they are not victims.
  5. I will not vote for politicians who encourage victim thinking.

Again, those are mine. What are yours? Feel free to share below!

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5 Responses

  1. John,

    Another nice piece today on Victim consciousness. Well done and thanks for writing it.

    My only feedback is my failure to take personal reasonability can create severe internal turmoil caused by my perfectionist nature to exercise self-control and personal accountability 100% of the time.

    I must be cautious of my inner tyrant that fails to realize that self control and personal responsibility must be built one brick at a time with great effort and skill. At least for me, as my life has progressed, I have been confronted with new and more powerful temptations that pull me in the direction of victim consciousness.

    Thus just like trying to build a business and learning from mistakes, I must exercise great patience along with firm resolve as I work to build better self control and personal responsibility.

    My path to personal responsibility contains a strong dose of regular encouragement and support that I am making progress towards the goal, even when I might slip from time to time.

  2. John,
    A manager that I support forwards your column to his group almost on a daily basis. I find your analysis and commentary rather interesting and there are many times it causes me to pause and take stock on how I perform as an integral member of his team. While I do not always agree with some of your verbiage or terms, I do find value in the methods you present. I find it interesting in your discussion on being a “victim.” While I do not agree on the term “victim” I do agree on the self-deprecating thought process that can easily derail or cripple a conversion, idea, or even a person’s life.
    Sometimes I wonder how someone could have a problem taking “personal accountability” for their surroundings, life and actions, but that is where my wife reminds me that I have been fortunate to have started my adult life out in the military where personal accountability is mandatory. However, that is also part of the problem I see for new veterans returning to the “workforce.”
    Military personnel live in a world where there is no “management,” only leadership. It is this transition that can be confusing in that to lead a group is different than managing a team. Certain “approved” behaviors such as griping and complaining in the military is not deemed acceptable in the civilian management sector. The reason is simple; in the military, members might gripe and complain BUT they will abide by the orders received. If they do not there is the expectation on some type of punitive action. That is not the case in a civilian setting. It is this “difference” that a new veteran entering into the civilian workforce will encounter issues that might cause them to question themselves and not their methods.
    Please do not take my rhetoric as being self-righteous, as I too have fallen in this trap of complaining, blaming, and feeling like my “managers” don’t understand me. Even in a corporation that hires 25% or more from the veteran hiring “pool,” it has taken me years to realize that the remaining 75% of my co-workers, managers, and friends have not lived that “lifestyle.”
    Therefore, please go “easy” on “us” as sometimes “complaining” is more of a “coping skill” than a self-deprecating activity leading to self-victimization.
    Regards, Stefan

  3. Victim thinking (aka…whining) can be avoided by a deliberate daily focus on gratitude, and I commit to journaling 3-5 things I am grateful for from the previous day, first thing in the morning! It works!

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