One of the benefits of social media today is that it brings people together. Often people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have spent much time in proximity are brought together to voice their opinions on certain topics, and because conflict sells well they usually represent the most extreme examples of a particular point of view.
As a result when people do come together they do their best to represent themselves as the rational open minded middle of the road view point and the other person as the radical unreasonable bringer of conflict.
This is a great attitude to have because it means that when I’m listening to you I’m really just listening for the things that I can refute rather than the things that I can consider as a rational idea or perspective. Two of the most helpful mindsets to have during these conversation is that of either the Saviour or the Victim. Having either of these attitudes allows me to come into an argument or discussion ‘pre-armoured’ in a way, so that I have a fool proof mental strategy for how I am going to frame the whole conversation in my mind before I’ve even engaged in it. Let have a look at them.
This is one of the most common in today’s society. If I have this attitude in the fore-front of my mind in an interaction then I’m hyper-aware of anything that I might possibly perceive as being unfair to me in some way and it’s my job to call it out and make sure that everyone knows about it. It’s vitally important that everyone in a 100 mile radius understands just how much life is being unfair to me and how much I am suffering at this moment.
Sometimes this is a good thing for pointing out real actual inequality in society and is good for getting much needed support for a cause. The problem is that it becomes very much like the silver bullet in that, because it’s effective, it is used again and again and again until everyone else is just sick of it.
Even so, the aim of the victim mindset is not to actually get help, it’s to get sympathy. I want people to know exactly how much I’m suffering and to feel bad for me. If they help me, or actually get me out of my situation then I immediately lose my victim status and I have nothing to complain about. This means I lose my identity which is extremely frightening. Therefore if someone want to actually alleviate my suffering, my first reaction will be to argue with them as to why I can’t do anything. That it is too hard, or I don’t have the time or money or any of several other reasons why I simply can’t help myself.
This of course is not to say that there aren’t real victims of real problems that are going on in society and really do need help and support. But if the victim persists in a situation which is actually damaging to them despite offers of help and support then something deeper is going on that needs to be dealt with.
There are times where entire industries have grown up around inequality, not with the aim of solving the problem but simply with the aim of gaining exposure for themselves through focussing on the problem. There are times when its good to be seen as a victim, not least of which is because it absolves you from responsibility of dealing with your own issues.
If I find that the same problems keep repeating again and again in my life then perhaps it might be time that I had a look at myself to see what is causing them rather than assuming I’m always the victim of circumstances beyond my control.
This is opposite of the Victim. Instead of having no control over my life I have complete control. Not just over my life though, but also over the lives of those I care about too. In fact it is a mark of my care for others that I will let them know exactly what they should be doing. It’s very important to me that people are doing exactly what I tell them. If they just followed my advice then they obviously wouldn’t have the problems they are having now.
I tell people these things to help them. However, just giving advice isn’t enough because I will get offended if people don’t show appreciation for that help. I also get offended if they don’t immediately take my advice. I instantly know what they should do and if the problem persists I am also instantly ready with follow up advice about how the reason it didn’t work was because they didn’t follow exactly what I said in the first place. If it still doesn’t work I will tell them a long story about how I followed my own advice in the past and it worked perfectly for me.
The issue with this is that I can easily tell everyone else around me how to live their lives without having the faintest idea about what they are actually going through and dismissing their actual (very real) problems because they don’t fit in with my perception of the problem. My perception is of course how I would react to and solve the problem if I was the one going through it.
In contrast to the Victim who needs the listener to display empathy in order to keep going, the Saviour doesn’t really need any response from the listener in order to keep going down their pathway. In fact no response from the listener will often just encourage them to push their agenda harder until they actually meet some resistance.
The fact is that the reason the other person is having a problem is because they don’t have a similar personality to that of the Saviour and can’t just change and become a different person on command. This doesn’t stop someone with the Saviour mindset from thinking that everyone does actually think the same way as them and being sure that they know how everything can be fixed including how the country should be run, how the tax system should be fixed and how society would be so much better of people just listened to their advice.
The irony is that a Saviour can quickly become a Victim when they are faced with their own problems. And in turn a Victim can slip into a Saviour role when faced with other people’s problems.
At the end of the day I need to be aware of these mindsets in my own interactions with others and need to learn to recognise when they are surfacing in my own attitudes.
That’s something I wish I’d been taught at school.