We hear about victims and victimization from every news cycle, from health and disease specialists, and from the trend setting academics who have brought us so many “ism’s” it is hard to keep up. It is reasonable to develop an attitude of fear, helplessness and hopelessness in such a cultural environment. Is there a way to avoid this pervasive victim meme, especially for our children?
Lasting Values give us a shield from victimization. Recent scientific developments offer us a larger perspective to rethink the victim meme.
Lasting Values such as self-worth, the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), dignity, and honor, all lead to less victimization.
For example, if we can teach and help instill experiences of self-worth for our children, especially females, then, when a compromising situation comes up, it will be easier, and ideally easy, to say no and move on, regardless of the consequences. If our jobs and careers depend on us acting without integrity or ethics, then they are not worthy of our participation. Period. If we have to brown-nose (kiss-ass) to keep a job, it is not worth it for anyone who values self-worth and has the desire to be authentic.
If we are confident with ourselves, we know we can always survive, even if we have to do other things. If we are insecure we will compromise our integrity at times, just to keep the status quo. If we are true to our dignity and ethical principles, we know that no job or career is worth being subjected to harassment or demeaning behavior. We will know it is better to move on and find the right fit for our careers that will not impede on our integrity. Closing a door always opens others: we can trust the universe (God, or whatever one believes in) will provide.
We do well to help instill a sense of true self-worth in our children. Self-esteem comes from true effort, hard work and the accomplishments that come from that work. Self-worth comes from having our base needs met, such as safety, belonging, being loved, and by being allowed to flourish as the child (person) we are. People-pleasing never brings long-term fulfillment. Teaching our children to stand up for themselves, and to not people-please, is very important. Children who do not let other kids run their emotional lives do better when confronting a manipulative relationship. When pushed to do something that you don’t want to do, self-worth will save you from being a victim. Self-worth will not hesitate to say “no” or “stop that” or “you will regret this if you keep it up”, etc.
Lasting Values bring a sense of peace and inner knowing, self-assurance and inner trust. These personality traits will help our children from falling into victimization. When our children feel left out or not popular, we can reinforce the idea that their self-worth is not dependent on “friends”, especially friends who do not act like friends. We can let them know that being themselves is richer and healthier than forcing themselves to act a certain way to gain friends or status.
Scientific developments such as epigenetics biology, neuroplasticity, and the interrelatedness-of-all-things from physics, allow us to take charge of our lives and know we co-create our living situations. These scientific principles encourage us to take responsibility rather than sit in victimization. Children love this information: it makes them feel powerful.
When we know we can change our genetic expressions (epigenetics), and rewire our brains (neuroplasticity), and change the effect we have on others and our environments (physics’ interrelatedness), we feel free, more empowered, and more confident than ever. If I don’t like my ill health, for example, I can change it. I can change my lifestyle (which is what all of these principles are based in), and hence, change my health. I don’t have to be a victim of a disease or unhealthy condition. I can look at what actions I took in the past that helped bring this situation into my life. I can take charge and institute change in lifestyle that correlates with change of health. Children learn this, for example, when they are ill and are shown ways to heal naturally and strengthen their immune systems, while also seeing how perhaps their food choices (junk food, sugar, etc.) helped bring about their illness.
When we change our thoughts we literally change our brains. We can change our minds by asserting the thoughts we desire rather than submitting to old, habitual thoughts of negativity, or helpless victimization. Our brains are rewired when we create new thought forms. It takes work, lots of work, because change happens most often in small incremental steps. Lifestyle changes, be they diet, exercise, sleep habits, or our thinking, takes effort, regular practice, and persistent awareness. Yet the rewards and results are well worth the effort and in turn build our self-esteem and self- worth. Children empower themselves when they understand and practice the effects of positive intention and thought.
When children take charge, they move out of victim-hood and into possibility – endless possibility, just like their endless imaginations. They liberate themselves from the chains of hopelessness and despair into the freedom of making their days what they want. To be clear, we do not have ultimate, utter control. We have as much control as we have awareness, and even then we only have control over ourselves, not others. Beyond that, we also interact at all times with our environments. We do not live in a bubble of our making. We must interact with others and the environment we happen to be in. These interactions are only partially in our control. And of course, there is a small random aspect to living too. Yet how we react to these situations is fully in our control. Self-control is a Lasting Value and is learned through the experience of practicing responsibility. Let your children exercise self-control by allowing them to do things alone, by allowing them to fail, to get back up, to practice doing more things on their own and feeling what real self-reliance is.
Our reactions are key to taking charge of ourselves. If we teach our children to gain control over how they react to people and situations they will always have choices and not feel stuck or feel like a victim. Every child should learn that they can react to meanness, for example, without feeling hurt or angry. Children who do so are going to thrive more and suffer less. Kids get it when we teach them that they can react to meanness with an understanding that the other person is unhappy and suffering inside and that is why they are acting in such a negative way- it has nothing to do with them. Being a victim never feels good. Feeling in charge always feels empowering.
Let us teach our children how to avoid the victim meme and how to thrive in self-determined, self-reliant, growth and love.