We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond and and what meaning we choose to take from these experiences.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hey, Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: So, I wanna talk about a topic that is very important to me and just so happens to be one that Connor mentions in his book How Not To Suck at Life, 88 Tips for Teens, which if you guys don’t have it, I love this book, so definitely get it because I think it’s full of so many good, so much good advice. And we’re gonna talk about some of that right now. So I wanna talk about what’s called the victim mentality, and more specifically, you know, what it is and why you should avoid it. So victim is, you know, if somebody steals something from you, you are the victim of a crime, right? So, that’s the basic generic version of it. And that’s true. You would be a victim, somebody would’ve done something bad to you. But victim mentality goes like, it’s bigger than that, right? So it’s people, I’ll say it this way. Imagine going through life and you think that everything bad that happens to you is someone else’s fault. And that’s not to say, like in our thief analogy, that sometimes, sometimes people do bad things, right? But not everything is everybody’s fault. And if you get into that mindset, it’s very dangerous. And too many people have that these days. We’ve talked about, you know, woke culture before. And I don’t know if you kids, I know I hear it a lot from kids, probably a little bit older than our listeners, but kids younger than us, they’ll say things like, I’m triggered. I can’t do this. Like, when they hear something, what that means is someone says something or does something and they feel a certain way about it. Usually, they feel angry, they feel sad about it. So saying I’m triggered is basically their way of saying, you said something I don’t like, and you are responsible for the way I feel now. And that’s bad in a lot of reasons, you know, for one personal responsibility, which I’ll have Emma, talk about a little bit later. But also you’re giving somebody the power to control your emotions, which is not a good thing to do because you’re giving someone else way too much control. Yeah. So some students on campuses have even tried to say that because they’re triggered, that means that they should get to like skip school or have a longer time to do their homework cuz they’re just too emotionally distressed that like, like something’s going on in the world and you know, they’re a victim because they’ve had to hear the news, so blah, blah blah. And it’s just, it’s so crazy and there are a lot of negative consequences. But Emma, do you know anyone who does this? Maybe not like a specific person, but any examples of this or even, you know, maybe you’ve done this, I know we’ve all kind of done things. Yeah. But do you have any examples to add to this?

Emma: I have so many, I could not list them all. Cause I used to work for a group called Campus Reform and we would report on sort of crazy things that would happen on college campuses and especially, you know, spending taxpayer money on silly things. And one that we saw over and over when Trump was president was people having safe spaces on campus to deal with certain events. So say there was like a conservative speaker coming to a certain campus, maybe it’s been Shapiro and he’s going to Berkeley,

Brittany: Yeah, I think he loves one yeah.

Emma: Yeah. He was one of the big ones at the time. And people would demand if he came to campus that they had a safe space for students to go, you know, talk about their feelings and do coloring books and cuddle with puppies. And you would see all sorts of crazy stuff when just by having someone who disagrees with them politically on campus. And to me, that’s extremely scary because it shows that these adults, you know, you don’t go to college until you’re an adult. These are adults who cannot handle being on the same campus. And college campuses are huge. It’s not like they’re in the same room, even if they don’t wanna be, but they’re so terrified by this person who has a different opinion than them, that they basically think they’re entitled to have a safe space or to even not skip class students would write in and say, oh, I can’t focus on my paper because I’m so distressed by Trump winning the election last night. And there were just so many examples of this, it’s made me so jaded. And so I don’t know, I just always roll my eyes when I hear the term safe space or triggered or anything like that because, you know, there are genuine reasons why people can, you know, if you have PTSD if you’ve served in combat or something like that, triggers are real. They’re very real. It started out as a scientific term that got totally, you know, taken for a ride by these people who basically just wanna be intolerant with other people’s opinions. So that’s another element to all of this.

Brittany: Yeah. And it’s crazy to me cuz when we make ourselves the victim, we harm ourselves in a lot of ways. But, so first, like I mentioned a little earlier, we give other people the power to control how we feel. I always like to say that being in control of your emotions is like the greatest superpower a person can have because so many, like reasons people get into trouble or just set themselves up for failure is that they can’t control their emotions, right? And so when you do that when you can control them rather than like you are way ahead of the game for most people, but when you let someone else’s actions like completely control what you’re gonna do and how you feel, then you could fall for anything, right? Like you’re a very fragile person. So we get to choose how we react to something. This is very important, but we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, right? Very rarely actually do we get to choose what happens to us. But we are in 100% control of what we do when that happens to us. So if we let someone else determine our mood, you know, they win that you’re just giving more power to Yeah. To someone else. And we can’t control other people either. So we need to remember that we can control how we act and we can control how we feel about something. And a lot of times that means realizing that we aren’t the victim. And that’s a really important thing. So there’s this great book, which is actually very boring. Everyone who buys it is so sad because it’s such an important book in history. And it’s so boring is the Gulag Archipelago. And that’s by a man named Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. We’ve talked about him a lot on the show, but, so he was working with, oh goodness, now I can’t remember what is the name of the, what’s the name of the bad military? Like Russia back in the day. Sta it was under Stalin, I believe. I want, I may have that wrong, it may have been Lenin,  it may have been Lennon, but so he was working for the communist government. We’ll leave it at that. And he was writing to his mother and he wrote some things and they searched his mail and they read it. And even though he was a soldier, he got sent to the gulags. There’s these terrible prisons where you were in freezing conditions and you were starving. So eventually he ends up getting cancer while he’s in this camp. And it was very devastating. But here’s why he’s important. So first he wrote this book exposing all the evils of communism and what went on in these prisons when people didn’t know about it. But here’s the part I loved about this. Even when he was in there thinking he was gonna die from cancer, his first thing that he asked himself was, how have I contributed to my own suffering? Wow. Now if you’re in that situation, you could very easily, cuz he was the victim in a lot of ways, right? Yeah. But when he asked himself this question, he realized, he was like, you know what? I was a soldier in this military. I believed in this, so I was doing this to other people, right? And so he became very powerful in his mindset because he kept realizing that he was not the victim here. In fact, even all these terrible things that happened, he was responsible for some of them. So imagine being in that terrible situation and still being able to ask yourself, you know, how am I contributing to my own suffering? And that’s something I always do. Jordan Peterson talks about this. So even if I, something bad happens to me, I kind of sit and say, right, how am I responsible for my own suffering? And let’s say that it is genuinely something somebody did to me, but I still, like it was, maybe it’s a friend that treated me badly, but the friend is constantly treated me badly and I chose to stay friends with that person. Yeah. Then how have I contributed to that? Right? I let that happen in a lot of ways. So it’s really powerful when you ask yourself that question, how am I contributing to my own suffering? And I think that really helps get out of the victim mentality that we’re talking about.

Emma: Absolutely. I think it’s such a good way of keeping in touch with your personal responsibility and staying in touch with, you know, what actions have I taken that have led me to where I am today. Even if certain things, you know, you have been a genuine victim of certain, you know, wrongdoing by others, there’s always things that we can do to improve and to, you know, heal ourselves and like, and like move forward from negative scenarios If something bad happens to you and you choose to just kind of wallow in it for your entire life and even make it part of your identity, that’s something that I see a ton of right now where people basically identify with, you know, the bad things that they’ve been through and that’s sort of how they see themselves. And it makes me really sad because I think, you know, if you constantly identify as, you know, I’m someone with depression or I am you, you know, whatever it may be, when that’s the only thing that you really see yourself as, I think it’s very limiting. Yes. And I think it probably makes it very hard for you to progress and to actually like live a more joyful, productive life and, and to do the things that you wanna do and feel the way you wanna feel. So I think that that question, how am I contributing to my own suffering is a hard one. It’s not easy to ask yourself something like that. You have to be very honest with yourself. But if you’re able to do that, I think it’s pretty amazing the things that you can overcome and the ways that you can grow. So I think it kind of comes down to you can’t grow if you’re always blaming others Yes. For your problems. And that’s something that I have learned as I’ve kind of become not only an adult but like a responsible adult because there’s a big difference between turning.

Brittany: Yes, it has a very main difference.

Emma: There’s a difference between turning 18 and having a car or your job or living outside of your parents’ house and actually like owning responsibility for your life. And I didn’t expect to have to learn that, but I did in many, many ways. And I think it’s really cool when you can start to look at your life and say, Hey, what are some things that I’m doing that are, you know, shooting myself in the foot, so to speak? Or, you know, there’s that meme of the guy riding the bike and the stick in his axle and falls off the bike. It’s like, all right, well what am I doing here that’s self-sabotaging? And it’s, again, it’s not an easy thing to ask yourself, but I think it’s very important. And the more you can sort of learn how to do that and ask yourself those uncomfortable questions, the better off you’re going to be. So, I think victim mentality is really easy to slip into, even subconsciously, even if you’re not aware of it. But it’s good to always be checking in with yourself and thinking, you know, am I blaming others or am I blaming myself for my self-inflicted problems?

Brittany: And I think you’re bringing up a good point. You know, we talk about depression stuff. There are things that are hard, there are bad things that will happen to you, right? But if you choose to dwell on the bad things and all the things that are hard, you’re gonna be a miserable person. That’s just kind of the name of the game. But imagine how much stronger you’ll be if you’re like Alexander Solnit and, or even when bad things happen, you’re looking for how it can make you stronger. You’re looking for how you can take those bad things and make meaning from them, right? Because if you don’t, then it’s just a bad thing that happened. And that’s not a way to live. So if something, you know, if you feel like you’re stuck in that or you have something that isn’t very pleasant, ask yourself, you know, how you can make this mean something. And maybe it’s just that you got really tough by getting through it, even if it’s, it doesn’t have to be something big either. It could be, you know, you have a hard math problem you can’t handle. And it’s not the math problems fall, right? Like, take these challenges, take these obstacles and just try to make meaning out of them so that you don’t make yourself the victim.

Emma: Well said. Yes. We are gonna wrap it up there. Guys, thank you so much for listening today. We hope that you are able to ask yourself those hard questions and look at life in a balanced perspective and not get too triggered over other people’s craziness. So we will wrap it up here, guys. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.