Are Your Decisions Helping or Hurting You?

Are You a Victim or Victor?

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

“It’s pretty simple. You are a product of your decisions, not your conditions.”

The uncertainty created by the coronavirus, the pending election, racial unrest and continued business closures have shown us that the things we can not control are far more significant than we ever realized. We can’t control the virus or people’s response to it. We can’t control the panic, the fear or the fluctuating markets responding to a moving target of uncertainty. So…what CAN we control? 

We can control our response and the story we tell ourselves

A reaction is the mental deduction of a feeling. And if you have the same reaction enough times, those reactions become a belief. In an attempt not to feel threatened or uncomfortable, the mind will reframe or even invent stories that are not always helpful. Here’s an example:

When you talk about the blur of work and life, how everything has changed… What do you lead with? Do you lead with, “Since March, life has stopped and I can’t take XYZ anymore…” or is it, “I have taken online courses, become far more computer savvy, stayed connected virtually to friends and family and I have supported people who are suffering more than I am.”

Because both are true. To become a victor, it may be time to imagine a new story. In her book Passionate Presence, Catherine Ingram tells a story about her young friend who asked, “Pretend you were surrounded by a thousand hungry tigers. What would you do?” Catherine said, “I don’t know. What would you do?” The child said, “I’d stop pretending.” You control your own narrative.

The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future. Where are you putting your energy?

What can you do?

  • Take a breath. Doing so will allow you the brief moment you need to turn a reaction into a healthy response.
  • Try to be aware of the victimizing story you’re telling yourself so you can make different choices. This can help rewire your brain for optimism.
  • Don’t fall victim to fatalistic “either/or” thinking. Remember, several things can be true at the same time – “both/and”.
  • Be aware of any myths of the past – are you measuring present day problems against an old history? We’re in uncharted waters and victors rewrite “shitty first drafts.”