Do You Think Like a Victim or a Creator?

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

The University of Maine offers a broad spectrum of classes to choose from as you fulfill your general education requirements, no matter the major of your choice. It is important that students understand that the content of these classes are key to their foundational knowledge as a student of higher education. Although knowledge and information form a core piece of your education, there is another aspect that sometimes gets overlooked in the learning process. The language that a student develops over the course of their studies can be as important as the information they gather during their academic career. I am not talking about learning French, Spanish or any other languages (although it is definitely not a bad idea to know more than one language!). I am referring to the language of students who see themselves as victims versus those who see themselves as creators.

Are you in charge of your own destiny? (Hint- the answer is always yes). To use a rather unoriginal but apt metaphor, you are the captain of your own ship. No matter what circumstances threaten to send you off course; winds, storms, bad decisions, etc.- you always have the option to redirect yourself and steer yourself towards calmer waters.

The language of victimhood (and we are talking about victim with a small “v” here) is the language of self-defeat. The types of thoughts that it produces are not conducive to getting ahead in life. For example, if you are late for class is it because of traffic, or no parking spaces, your dog ate your alarm clock, or whatever? Are you certain it isn’t your fault for not getting up soon enough or planning ahead? Victim language seeks to put the onus of the actions that you choose on to someone or something outside of your control. This is what psychologists call an external locus of control. This pattern sets the stage for a lifetime of excuses and missed opportunities.

On the other hand a student that uses creator language believes in his or her internal locus of control (i.e. “I am captain of my own ship!”). Creator language sends a message that there is always room to improve and do things better. Creators seek out opportunities to change their behavior, whereas victims stick with the behavior and continue to get the same negative results. A great example of victim versus creator language can be found here.

Please keep in mind that making VICTIM choices doesn’t make you bad, wrong, stupid, unworthy or any of those things that your inner critic may be screaming at you. On the flip side making CREATOR choices doesn’t make you better, right, smarter, or more worthy. Your focus should be on the outcome of the choices you make and working towards achieving those you most desire. Do not seek to judge whether you are “good” or “bad,” but rather ask yourself if the language you are using will steer you towards or away from the best possible outcomes.

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