Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry is a follow up to last week's entry where I talked about the question, "How much money do I need to quit my job and start my own business?" If you grumbled and moaned, sighed and cringed at my answer to that question, this week's journal entry is a must read. I want to tell you that you're not alone in your feelings. So many people want to start their own business but they get hung up on the money thing and never even try. I'd venture a guess that at least 90% of the people who want to start a business but don't cite money as the reason. They get blocked and overwhelmed and they stay stuck in their present circumstances, feeling like their dreams will always feel out of reach and that it's almost silly to think they could live a better life. What's behind all of these emotions? They are so incredibly common, yet not too many people write about them. I want to warn you ahead of time that I'm going to get really blunt and really honest in this week's entry. But I'll also be speaking from a place of love because I want to see you bust through these emotions. I've been there. I've experienced it, worked through it, and come out on the other side, and you can too.
What emotions come to the surface when you stop and think about starting your own business but feel blocked because of money? I bet there's some - ok, a lot - of overwhelm. And I bet that overwhelm sort of leads to this "throw your hands up in the air and throw the towel in" kind of feeling. Phrases like "this is never going to happen" and "this is silly to even think about" and "I'm never going to be able to fund this business idea and make this happen" and "this is impossible" probably come to mind, right? Maybe you also experience feelings like "I don't know what I'm doing" and "I don't know anything about business" and "who am I to try and start my own business?"
What's at the root of these emotions? If you dig and dig all the way to the root, I bet you'll find helplessness and a sense that things are out of your control. These feelings are, most likely, evidence of a victim mentality. What is victim mentality? It's this sense that your life, your career, your destiny is based on external factors rather than your own effort and desires. It's this sense that things are outside of your control and that you are helpless to change them. Sometimes it might involve blaming another person or circumstance for your hopelessness, sometimes not.
I had a BIG case of victim mentality back in the day (notice I said "I had a case of victim mentality" and not "I was a victim" - don't own that crap! It's not you, it's just a mindset that can be changed). I didn't like my career, I didn't like my life circumstances, one bad thing after another seemed to be happening, and I felt so helpless. I felt unable to pull myself out of my current situation and make changes. Everything felt like it was happening outside myself and I was the poor victim of it. I even felt invisible at times. Some people blame another person when they feel stuck in this position - like an ex-boyfriend or parent - but to be honest, I blamed God (which eventually led to a strengthening of my faith and belief in God but that's a story for another day). I was in a pretty dark place, in full-on victim mode.
Long story short, I transformed beyond this victim mentality after I lost my father to cancer in 2014 and found an amazing therapist. I initially booked appointments with her to work through my grief in a healthy manner, but I ended up staying on to work through my victim mentality. Through this work, I shifted from an external to an internal focus, meaning that instead of believing my life was subject to forces outside my control, I started to believe that I had full control. It's a total change of perspective, a totally different way of looking at the world. Here's a great description of the difference between these two perspectives:
"Victim mentality is a psychological term that refers to someone with an external locus of control. They do not believe that they are in control of their successes or failures, and often feel helpless or without blame. They are driven by pessimism, fear and anger. In extreme cases, they may even believe others are deliberately out to hurt them. At the other end of the spectrum, someone with an internal locus of control believes that they control their own destiny and will attribute their success and failures to their own actions."
(Credit: Jody Michael Associates, "Victim Mentality Stands In The Way of Accountability". Click here to read the entire article)
Looking back, I can honestly say that one of the reasons I stayed in a job that I hated for so long (11 years!) was because I was firmly stuck in a victim mentality. And what happens when you have that kind of mindset? Your life hands you more and more experiences to help you prove you are indeed a victim! I didn't know this at the time of course, which is why I wanted to write about it here.
Victim mentality is a deep-seated issue and maybe, like me, you'll need a therapist to help you work through it. But I can tell you this - if it's not the number one reason holding you back from pursuing your own business, it's likely in the top ten. Victim mentality is absolutely rampant in our culture. Most of us were raised on it. Most of us had parents that consoled us by saying something like, "It's not your fault. It's [insert name's] fault that [insert event] happened." Victim mentality is an easy way to disclaim responsibility for just about anything. It's a lot easier to say "they did it to me" than to find ways to accept your situation and begin to turn it around. That takes work, and - let's be honest here - most of us feel more comfortable complaining about why something can't happen (like owning your own business) than rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business. I wish I remember the name of the book or article I read this in, but author Marianne Williamson once made the bold, blunt statement that many of us don't want to heal the wounds and hurts that are holding us down and keeping us back because, once we heal them, we can't rely on that excuse anymore. As an example, if you can no longer blame the issues you have with your mom or dad for your failure to get into grad school, to write that book, or to start that company, who will you blame? You will have no one to blame but yourself. It's so much easier to be a victim and blame your perceived shortcomings on someone else.
This naturally brings me to my next point. When you do work on victim mentality issues, you're almost definitely going to hit on self-worth and self-confidence issues. They are all related. I experienced this as well and worked a lot on these concepts. It's tough. But geesh, when this trio of self-empowerment (the opposite of victim mentality), self-worth, and self-confidence come into alignment, you will be unstoppable. When this happens, I think it's the true passage from childhood to adulthood. That's when true maturity happens. Sadly, some people never make this mental shift into adulthood - they never are able to stand in their own power and favor the childish behavior of blaming others instead.
If you want to explore victim mentality more, I suggest starting simple. Google it and read some of the articles written by psychologists. Then perhaps get out your journal and honestly examine the ways in which you have experienced victim mentality. If you meditate, perhaps do a 20-minute meditation on the question "How am I currently clinging to victim mentality in my life?" If you hit on some valuable things, you might want to get the help of a therapist. Or, if getting a therapist seems overwhelming or unaccessible right now, perhaps you can just start reading some books on the topic and see where that takes you.
To me, the opposite of victimhood is self-empowerment. That's when you truly understand that while you might not be in control of external forces, you are ALWAYS in control of how you react and respond to them which - at the end of the day - is all you need to feel empowered in any circumstance. This is not easy work. It takes a lot out of you and it takes some time. But at the end of the day, the concept is pretty simple - it's simply a shift in how you frame the world around you. It's simply a shift in how you frame the events and things that happen to you. And I'll tell you what - while there might be a ton of bright people practicing as lawyers (like I once did) or working in corporate America, there are a ton of people stuck in victim mentality there, too. Intelligence absolutely does not equate to mental maturity. Once you are aware of it, you'll see it everywhere. AND you'll be able to choose differently. And those blocks of overwhelm? You'll begin to see how you can take those challenges on. One by one. And, what's more, you'll begin to see how you never needed to stay trapped.
I hope you feel empowered today.