Benjamin Disraeli once famously said:
Man is not the creature of circumstances; circumstances are the creatures of men.
It’s the difference between being a passive victim/passenger in life versus being proactive and focusing committed action towards changing your circumstances.
I think back to the past and for a long time I was guilty of this.
When the going got tough, whether it be financial difficulty, a job I didn’t like or any other form of stress, I often lapsed into bouts of self-pity.
I would blame my circumstances or the fact that I wasn’t born with a silver spoon.
“I wasn’t born in a rich family.”
“All my friends have it easy.”
“They went to a private school so that’s how they got their business contacts.”
“Why can’t I be more like <so and so>?”
All this didn’t really lead to anything but more negativity.
I’ve since learnt that there’s no point to this.
Even if it is true. Even if it’s 100% true. Even if you were in fact dealt a difficult hand by life.
Even if you feel like all your friends and the people around have got it easy.
I know the feeling. You feel like you’re playing a video game on “Insane” or “Hardcore” difficulty settings whereas the people around you are playing on “Very easy” mode.
Let’s say you’re right and all that you’re saying is valid.
This only serves to further prove one point.
Life’s not fair.
(To readers that may be religious or believe in God – I think you will still agree with that statement, at least not on this side of eternity, though ultimately there will be a judgment day.)
Life’s not fair – so what are you going to do about it?
This reminds me of a great post by Gary Vee.
Knowing that life’s not fair, there’s no point in sitting there and crying about it.
Instead, every time you have these thoughts ask yourself:
And? What’s the alternative?
I love how Gary puts it – in his trademark no BS style:
You either dwell on your circumstances for the rest of your days and decide the reason you weren’t successful is because you grew up in a bad neighborhood, or your parents had money and you we’re too soft to work, or your friends were ahead of you, or you didn’t go to the best school, get the best internship, or have the most supportive family or friends.
But here’s the big truth and the decision you have to make. What the f*** are you gonna do about it? I wrote this post because I want you to default into saying “And?”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
This is so powerful because it immediately changes your perspective from a victim/passenger to a driver who has to take ownership and responsibility for the car he is driving and all the passengers within.
In this case your car is you. Your passengers are those around you (your family, friends, kids, etc.) whose lives may be adversely affected by your negativity and victimhood.
Time to make a conscious decision
You can either continue to fall into the trap of blaming your circumstances or you can ask yourself “…and? What am I going to do about it?”
The first option might make you feel good for awhile in the short-term (or the micro as Gary would call it) because it always feels good to make self-validating excuses for yourself. But in the long-term (the macro) nothing will change. You will keep feeling sorry for yourself and it’s a vicious cycle.
Action points/notes to self
- Remember that giving excuses and blaming circumstances is a form of abdicating responsibility and ownership. Clearly not a success trait.
- Whenever I lapse into indulging in self-pity and victimhood catch myself and ask myself “so what am I going to do about it?”
- And then really go take action and actually do something about it.
Does this message resonate with you?
Have you ever struggled with victimhood and blaming your circumstances instead of taking responsibility?
If so, what are you going to do about it?
Let’s keep each other accountable.
Would love to hear your input so please leave a message in the comments.
Until next time.
Tony Lee Jacobs
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