Why you are NOT successful

I have met many people in my life whom I can categorize in one way or another, but when talking about those who succeed and those who don’t, I have found one specific characteristic that differs between these two types of people.

Firstly I think it’s important for me to define better what I mean by success. Success can be measured in materialistic wealth or popularity, how liked you are by people around you and people in general. Success can also be measured in health, meaning your ability (resources and willpower) to remain physically and mentally healthy. And let’s not forget all our relationships, be they romantic or platonic in their nature. Regardless of how you personally measure success, I am fairly confident that everyone can agree that a successful person is generally content and advancing in life, a.k.a. moving forward. A successful person is not someone who lives in the past or is stuck in the same place but instead seeks to evolve constantly.

I have purposefully travelled the world my entire adult life and exposed myself to different cultures and people. Based on my observations of life, I would divide people into two different success-level groups based on the single most powerful attitude or characteristic one can have:

victimhood and accountability.

When discussing victimhood or victim mentality, I don’t mean to criticise or dispute someone’s experience. There is a huge difference between being a victim and having a victim mentality. I think it’s safe to say that every one of us has been a victim of some foul play at some point in our lives. Maybe someone spread nasty rumours about you, physically assaulted you, stole something from you or broke your trust. That means you have been a victim at one point or another and will likely be still many times before you die. The feelings of hurt, mistrust or embarrassment in these situations are normal, but here comes the twist. If you cannot let go of those negative feelings and thoughts after a reasonable time has passed, you have entered a state of victimhood. You are no longer responding to an event; you are choosing to create a space of negativity.

Why do people do it, then?

Because many people find it easier to blame others for their misfortune and hurt than take accountability. It is hard to look at yourself in the mirror and admit that although you were hurt by someone/something, it is now up to you to fight for a better outcome.

What matters is taking accountability, not for the hurt that you went through but for getting over it.

For example. You are in a loving relationship, and your significant other cheats on you, causing you to go your separate ways and leaving you with a broken heart. Because your trust has been broken, you feel sad and mistrustful, this is an understandable response, but after a healing period, this feeling should pass unless you choose to become a victim and hold on to it. End result of victim mentality might be that you never fully open yourself up to love again because you are afraid of being hurt. Or you push people away before they can hurt you.

Another example. You launch a startup or a business. You are excited about it and full of ideas. You throw yourself into developing your concept with full vigour; maybe you even invested all your time and money into this new business venture. Then something happens, and it all falls apart. You lose everything. Some people naturally regroup, pull in new resources and try again, but then some cannot let the hurt of failure go. They feel the failure so heavily and take it so personally that they turn to the victim mentality for comfort. They blame their failure on their business partner, the market situation, lack of funds, misunderstanding, etc. It’s always someone else’s fault, anyone’s fault, as long as they don’t have to take the accountability upon themselves.

Whatever happens to you doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters is taking accountability, not for the hurt that you went through but for getting over it. You will be successful if you can find the mental strength to always take accountability in life by letting go and moving on without carrying your hurt with you as trauma. Heck, that means you are already successful! And way ahead of most people in life.

But if you choose a victim mentality, then you have given failure and hurt all your personal power. It will forever limit your abilities and opportunities in life. You will never bloom into your fullest potential, and that is a waste. Each and every one of us has, in our own ways, so much to give to the world, but if we don’t learn accountability, we will never be able to live up to all that could be.

My mother, bless her, was not the warmest and fuzziest of mothers, but she did teach me many lessons. One of those lessons was to learn accountability. As a child (like all children), when I was faced with adversity and pain, I instinctively tried to go into a state of victimhood, but my mother wouldn’t let me. If someone verbally hurt me and I complained about it, she would say, ‘they hurt you, so what, what are you going to do about it?’. Often times all I wanted her to do was cuddle me and say, ‘oh, how awful, oh, how hurt you must be’. I wanted my hurt feelings to be validated. I saw many other mothers do so, and I sometimes felt jealous, but I also saw how those peers grew up to rely on their victimhood. Whenever things got really difficult, they leaned on victimhood, shifting the responsibility to others. In contrast, I was able to push through, get over things, and make something good out of bad situations.

Each and every one of us has, in our own ways, so much to give to the world, but if we don’t learn accountability, we will never be able to live up to all that could be.

There are, of course, many ingredients to the recipe for success, and that recipe is not the same for everyone. There are many paths to success, but some commonalities can be found with those who tend to be successful in life, and being accountable and letting the past be the past is definitely one of the key elements we can see across the board when it comes to successful people.

So do yourself a favour and stop wallowing in what happened and start thinking about what’s next.

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