August 11, 2009

Victimhood is Powerful- but it Doesn’t Wow

This past weekend, some young chums of mine (10 and 7) took part in a lifeguarding clinic. One of the elements practiced was how to signal to a guard that you were in need of assistance. To do this, they were instructed to tread water, wave their arms over their heads, and yell, “Help!”

After this correct “form” had been demonstrated, the kids were asked,

“Who wants to be a victim?”

This was greeted by a chorus of, “Me, me me!”

The result? These self-appointed “victims” had a chance to be rescued by numerous hunky lifeguards, running toward them in true “Baywatch” style– hair blowing in the breeze, whistles blowing, lifesaving torpedoes at the ready….

It was easy to see the seduction of the choice.

I’m sure many of you know someone who has a similar response to situations in their life– someone who eagerly signs up to be saved; who wants nothing more than to cling to the torpedo, be dragged to safety– and perhaps even given mouth to mouth…

Because, let’s face it: victimhood is powerful.

That said, I maintain it does not wow.

And beyond the non-wowing of others, ultimately it doesn’t wow those who make the choice– because if you’re always being saved by someone else, you never have the chance to actually build self-esteem.

You never have the satisfaction of saving yourself.

Now, I am not saying that when you find yourself in over your head, it isn’t OK to ask for help.

I am also not saying that having a safety plan in place isn’t smart.

(In fact, I recommend both of these things– I’m an advice-asking, safety-first kind of girl.)

What I’m talking about is people who wave and holler before they’ve even braved the water.

Because, as those of you know who have had the good fortune to safely navigate the personal riptides of your life, there is enormous confidence to be gained from learning to navigate using your own wit and wisdom.

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