Don’t Let Your Past Eat Your Future

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
–    Harvey S. Firestone

Have you ever felt like a victim where there seemed to be a grand conspiracy preventing you from achieving your goals?

I think it is probably natural to feel that way occasionally … but if you allow yourself to continually fall into the victim trap, you will never achieve your goals. It is up to us to make the choice that we will not allow ourselves to be victims

Many people fall into the victim trap because something unexpected happens … something completely out of their control. Positively dealing with the unexpected – looking for solutions, not excuses – is a conscious choice to avoid the victim mentality.

Accept that the unexpected is going to happen – that is life –  it is your choice how you deal with it. You can be a victim … or choose to proactively deal with it and continue moving forward.

Success is not an event … it is a process that will have peaks and valleys along the way.
Is it always easy? Of course not … but it’s a choice you make. You control your next move. Will you sit and sulk, or will you commit to continuing toward your ultimate goal?

Even when bad things happen that we do not deserve, the next move is ours … blame the situation, adopt the victim mentality … or accept the unexpected, take responsibility and move forward.

Didn’t accomplish your objectives for last month? You have two choices – either take responsibility and decide that you’ll work twice as smart this month to make your goals, or you can wonder, “Why me?” and look around and find someone to blame.

When you become the “victim,” you give up the right to create your future and allow yourself to be buffeted by what life brings. Or you can step up to the plate in the face of victim mentality and say, “Bring it on! I will not become a victim of things beyond my control!” It’s your choice.

The good news is that we can make the choice to avoid becoming victims and get on the road to success. There are always alternatives … without limits … unless you set them.
The late Thomas J. Watson, the brilliant man who founded IBM, pushed his leadership personnel toward the resiliency of stumbling five times and getting up six. What he wouldn’t tolerate was the paralysis of becoming a victim. “If you solve it wrong, it will come back and slap you in the face,” Watson said. “Then you can solve it right. Lying dead in the water and doing nothing is comfortable because it is without risk, but it is an absolutely fatal way to work.”

In every situation, whether in your work life or your personal life, there are always alternatives – if you choose to see them. If you choose to put on the blinders of victimization, prepare to accept that you will not reach your potential or achieve the success you deserve.

“Don’t let your past eat your future.”

Three things you can do to make the no-victim choice:

  1. Expect the unexpected. Things beyond your control will happen. What you do control is how you respond to the unexpected things that come your way.
  2. Look for alternatives. There are always alternatives if you choose to look for them. Don’t paralyze yourself by falling into the victim trap.
  3. Spend your energy searching for solutions, not excuses.

Excerpted from 12 Choices … That Lead to Your Success  by David Cottrell. Visit the CornerStone Leadership web site at