One thing that I've noticed over the past few years is that it seems like there is an increase in the amount of people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Instead they blame others when things don't go the way they had hoped, and they subscribe to a “victim mentality”, a psychology that says there are outside forces beyond your control that are causing you to fail, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Victim Mentality: a tendency to blame external or uncontrollable factors, instead of focusing on internal or controllable factors for things that go wrong
I think if we're honest with ourselves, many of the problems we're facing today can be traced back to people who don't take responsibility for their actions, and instead act like things are just happening to them.
Much of the economic crisis we’re currently having can be placed squarely at the feet of people’s lack of responsibility. People are believing the lie that there is always someone else to blame (and someone else to depend on), and as a result when the time comes to make hard financial decisions, people are paralyzed. They feel powerless.
We live in a consuming society where if we want something – we buy it. Never mind the consequences. If we want a big new house that is over our budget? Never mind, we'll buy it anyway – after all the bank gave us a loan so we must be able to afford it! If we walk away and default, it will be their fault for giving me the loan in the first place! I run up my credit card bills? It's the credit card company's fault when I can't pay because they allowed me to have the card in the first place! I lost my job? It's not my fault for having poor job performance, it's the economy's fault! I can't win – I'm a victim!
Government Encouragement Of Irresponsibility
Let's be honest, the government hasn't exactly encouraged people to take responsibility and not play the victim. They've actually encouraged a victim mentality by giving failing banks huge bailouts, allowing them to dodge the responsibility for their poor business practices.
They've encouraged people to not find a job by continuously extending unemployment benefits for people who are out of work. They've dodged their own responsibility for many of the current fiscal crisis by shifting blame to Wall Street, big banks and mortgage companies.
They never once allowed us to believe that because of their encouragement of irresponsible lending (sub-prime lending anyone?), that much of this came about.
The point is, if you're looking to the government for some encouragement in wise spending, responsibility and moving towards a life of debt freedom, you're going to be sorely disappointed. They will encourage you to live with a victim mentality, and tell you that there isn't much you can do to succeed.
Decisions Have Consequences – Good And Bad
An article I read recently talks in depth about how the choices we make have consequences, and how so many of the great achievers in history have one thing in common – they took responsibility for their actions, whether the consequences were good or bad.
The price of greatness is responsibility
– Winston Churchill
They didn't allow themselves to be defined by the actions of others, or by the actions of their government. Instead they took responsibility for their successes and failures, and because of it they were able to live great lives.
Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable.
– Zig Ziglar
Sometimes it is only us that are responsible for the tough situations we find ourselves in. It isn't the failure of our family, our friends or our government. It is the direct result of the choices that we make.
We ARE capable, and we need to stop making excuses.
Take Control Of Your Decisions, And Their Consequences
Are there situations where people legitimately are put in bad circumstances because of others – and are being victimized? Of course. But even in those situations you have a choice that you can make – to turn a bad situation into something good, or to allow yourself to become a victim, and to allow others to define you.
I read this on another site in regards to taking responsibility, and how we can choose to live a full life, one centered by responsibility, or we can allow ourselves to be victims:
What choices are you making in your life? Are they the ones that result in positive consequences?
- We can choose if we’ll reflect our environment, or if we'll affect our environment.
- We can choose to be happy, or not.
- We can choose how we react to hard times in our life, with positivity or negativity.
- We can choose to take responsibility for our actions, or blame others for our failures.
- We can choose to be a victor or take on the role of a victim.
What steps are you taking to keep yourself free of becoming a victim?
Have you allowed yourself to fall prey to a victim mentality? Has the relentless negativity in the news and in society caused you to start believing that you are a victim? What steps can we take to get ourselves out of the pit of victim-hood and despair, into the sunlight of responsibility and freedom? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
Rex @ Hack My Life says
You hit the nail on the head. We have become a society of whiners, or victims as you put it. It’s not just with finance either, everything:
I’m fat because I have bad genes
My kid is failing because he has a bad teacher
My career is stagnant because my boss hates me
Whatever the problem is, people want to blame something or someone else first. Take a look in the mirror, and own up to your mistakes. If you want to make your life better, do something about it!
Mr. Money says
Exactly! Take responsibility people!
(Wait, my being overweight isn’t because of my genes? Darn!)
Rex @ Hack My Life says
not to sound like an infomercial, but P90x Bring It! Seriously, 2nd time through the program…works wonders.
Mr. Money says
You know, I actually have P90X sitting at home, I’m about to start it for the first time! :)
Balance Junkie says
I’m not religious, but the only thing I can think of to say after reading this article is AMEN. Thanks! That was a very cathartic read. :)
Mr. Money says
haha.. thanks! It was cathartic to write the post as well! It gets frustrating sometimes with all the irresponsible behavior going on!
This mentality is common seen is under developed countries like India, Pakistan where people often believe in external forces for their success.
Financial Samurai says
I hear you on the victim mentality. It is one of the most annoying things to hear. Failures are due to exogenous variables, success are due to yourself. It’s quite interesting!
Khaleef @ KNS Financial says
Thanks for this. It means that my wife and I are not the only people who feel the way you do. It gets so sickening to hear everyone shift the blame for their actions! We blame “big tobacco” for people getting lung cancer, McDonalds for people getting fat and lazy, Wells Fargo for everyone buying too much house, Mastercard and Visa for being living above their means in every other area, and finally we blame our upbringing for every crime that is committed in this country!
Mr. Money says
Wait a minute – i reserve judgement on McDonald’s! It is their fault that I’m overweight! LOL..
Well articulated! It is so easy to get sucked into the victim mentality! It is too easy to blame someone else, than to learn the lesson from the situation.
We followed an “expert’s” advice about a hard money loan agreement. The other party filed bankruptcy, we lost our principal and the interest it could have earned. I was ticked! I blamed everyone and everything! But, looking back, it was a really big lesson. And now, I know what to invest in and what not to invest in. I don’t have to keep repeating that situation over and over again, because I actually learned something! :)