Ownership vs. Victim Thinking

Sep 04, 2023

Victim thinking needs to be detoxed from our lives. There are so many negatives that invade when we permit victim thinking, as well as victim thinkers. But we don’t have to allow either one. We may still have things that happen, and we may not be able to completely eliminate all victim thinkers from our sphere of influence, but we can mitigate the potential damage.

The key is choosing to embrace ownership. But first, what is the difference between ownership and victimhood? What feeds the internal and external drama or lack of drama in each characteristic? What should a true leader look like in the midst of drama? Let’s talk about all these questions and more.

“Owners understand and focus on what they can control. And victims focus on what they can’t.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Helplessness versus ownership
  • Spin and drama
  • Differences between owners and victims
  • Integrating your feelings without others
  • Identifying who you’re holding up
  • Rejecting buffering with drama
  • Recognizing ownership or victimhood

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Connect with Kris Plachy

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  • Private Subscriber List: Sign up to get preview invitations at thevisionary.ceo/lead. (Opting to be added to the LEAD waitlist on this page will add you to the Private Subscriber List.)

Work with Kris and Her Team: 

Email: [email protected]






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Well, welcome back to the podcast. How are you? In this summer of detox, I'm gonna be talking to you today about detoxing victims. Let's do it.

So, hi. As I have been talking to you about here and also over on The Walking Retreat podcast at the Moxie Sage, I really wanna invite you to go through this process. The summer of detoxing and telling yourself some truths. And so on this podcast, I wanna touch on what happens to us when we integrate and allow for victim-thinking and also victim thinkers in our lives. And then over in the paid subscription of Moxie Sage, I'm gonna be giving you more tools for that. But I wanna give you a high level here.

So years and years ago, going back like 2000-ish, I was turned onto a training called the Ownership Spirit by a guy named Dennis Deaton. Now, many of you have probably heard me mention him in the past. I don't know what he's up to today. I just know this iteration of his work was quite, uh, powerful for me and all of us who encountered it. He had a CD rom, video course - if I'm dating myself, I am. But I also had the opportunity to watch him live, and he did a really beautiful job at making this distinction between ownership thinking and victim thinking. It was quite black and white, but I think sometimes we need things to be in order to really resonate.

He had lots of vignettes that he used to sort of help people realize the difference between the two. He would have a vignette of someone who woke up and believed really great things about their day and how they interacted with everybody throughout the day. And then someone else who woke up grouchy, kept turning on the alarm, you know, hitting snooze, wasn't excited about the day. And you know that not surprisingly, he went through the day encountering all sorts of problems and he was frustrated and he hated people.

And then he told the story of, he said this vignette of a couple who were arguing in the car, they were arguing with each other about whatever happened at the party that they were at, and then the phone rang and it was another friend of theirs and the wife went straight out of argument mode, right into hi, super friendly mode. The point being that we are very capable of changing our response if we are aware of ourselves. And there were lots of other vignettes that he would talk about.

But the whole point being that when you assume accountability and ownership for yourself, you will live better. If you spend most of your life being in a posture of helplessness to what goes on around you, you don't live as fulfilled of a life because you need everybody else around you to be different. You need your circumstances to be different to feel better. And yet, we don't have that kind of control.

And so what I have found in my practice over years now with my coaching, is that victim thinkers don't tend to love working with me. They don't last long. And the reason that that's true is because I'm not a source of tolerant behavior. I don't indulge it. I don't enjoy indulging it, and I choose not to because I have witnessed that over and over and over and over and over in my life. There's a difference between, something happened to me today and it was hard versus something happened to me 12 years ago and it's still hard, and now because it's hard, I'm gonna use that every day of my life and remind people of how hard it is. I'm going to use that to justify my helplessness posture in my life.

Owners don't have any easier of a life than people who identify with victim thinking. The difference is that owners understand and focus on what they can control, and victims focus on what they can't. And so in my world, as a coach, I am highly attracted to, and I believe equally attractive to people who want to make changes and decisions in their lives that they don't play victim to their circumstance. That they stand in their own agency, in their own authority, and they make decisions for themselves regardless of their circumstance. Whereas other people stand in a position of helplessness and passiveness.

Now I was thinking about it though, because interestingly enough, there's always the person who you just identify as an owner. They just immediately take accountability. They accept responsibility. Then they take action. They're like immediately like, yep, I could see how I couldn't have done it. I could have done it better. I'm gonna fix it. Here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go forward. It's not wallow, it's not drama. And it's quite honestly, people who assume ownership are very boring because they don't spin. They just, yeah. Oh yeah, I see that. Absolutely. I totally see how I did that. I accept responsibility. Here's what I'm gonna do next, or What do you think I could do next? I wonder how we could move this forward. There's no drama.

Victims on the other hand, first we have to go through arguing if it was even their fault. Then we have to go through arguing who else there is to blame. We have to watch their brain try and protect themselves from feeling badly, when really, if all we just did was accept responsibility, that part would be over so fast. But the worst part about victim-thinking and victim thinkers is the drama.

Victim thinkers are characterized highly by gossip, drama, negative talk. There's always a reason something didn't work and it's never them. There's always something other people need to do to make them feel better. Their external world is driving their internal experience and they put it on repeat, so it doesn't matter.

You take a victim thinker out of the circumstance and you fix it all. There's another one, then there's another one. Haven't you ever noticed there's just people who drama follows them everywhere they go? Why is that? Is it that the drama follows them or is it the way that they experience difficult moments in their lives. Are they loud, difficult-moment people? Does that make sense?

Because they need the pity, they need the justification and the validation that what they went through was hard. I don't want you to misunderstand me. There's people who go through grief. There's people who go through really, really substantial moments. But I'm gonna tell you what, even in that, I watch people, it's fascinating to watch the difference. It's fascinating to watch one woman whose husband, she just lost her husband and another woman who just lost this. And to watch the difference of how people move through the narrative of their grief.

And I don't really have judgment on it, but what I will tell you is what I see over and over and over again is you can integrate by feeling and allowing your feelings without having to halt your entire existence and also without having to bring everybody into it.

And I think as leaders, we have to pay attention to that. I watch a lot of leaders who need everybody around them to make them feel better. That's not their job. If you are the leader, you've raised your hand. I will go first. And that does mean as the leader, we accept responsibility. We accept accountability when things don't go well. We say, "Yep, that's me. I didn't actually do the thing. Doesn't matter. I'm still in charge. I accept responsibility for that. Here's what I'm gonna do next."

But if everybody's gathered around the leader proverbially, like in a little cocoon, that's not leadership. Listen, it's friendship, it's connection, it's support. It's all the other things. But leaders, we gotta go, love. It's exhausting to have to tend to a victim leader. I get it. And we all fall in that pothole, so nobody's immune. You just have to know where to go to do it, to be in that moment. Everybody wants a little self pity every now and then.

Listen to me. I get it. Every one of us wants to just go in a hole and complain. I get it. But if that is your ammo, that's different, and you know what I'm talking about. And if you don't, I'm gonna really ask you to evaluate that. Because if drama is in your world all the time, if gossip is part of your food source, if you spend more time talking about other people, question that.

If you are with people who always wanna talk about someone else, who always wanna tell you what didn't go wrong, who always wanna tell you what the problem is with this, right? Like, I just recently had this conversation with someone and we were talking about - now I don't even remember what it was - but it was like, it was such a basic conversation and it was like immediately we had to talk about what was wrong. Like why are we talking about what's wrong? Like, this is all pretty good. Like, most of us live here in a country with a lot of potential and relatively comfortable, like why do we gotta stir it up?

I don't wanna spend time with people who do that, who look for reasons why things don't work. So when you look at your detox, I would invite you to look at something similar. Where do you have people in your life that you are having to hold up? Not because they're in real grief and in real pain, but because they require other people to hold them up because they're so busy finding all the reasons why they can't do something. Why it's so hard for them, why it's everybody else's fault.

We have so much power, between our brain and our heart and our body, to change the environment that we are in. And how do I know that this is true? Because I have witnessed real adversity in people and real overcoming of that. Most of us, that's not our circumstance. Most of us are not surviving domestic abuse, having to leave our house with underwear, trying to find somewhere to live with our four year old, and then rebounding from that.

That's not most of us. Most of us just have to deal with a guy named George and we don't like him. And then we get into the story and we tell the story over and over again. And then we blame him for how we feel. And then we blame him for the failure of this. And then we're now, now this thing has turned into a snow globe of problems. When all we had to do is say, "You know what? I hired George. I didn't probably give George enough feedback. I need to fire George." it's so boring, right? No drama. What do you gotta have it for? Right?

People do buffer with drama, especially victim thinkers, right? Victim thinkers; always people out to get them, always people doing them wrong. So in my summer of detox, this is off my list. I'm out. If you wanna fight for your problems, I totally understand. I'm not your girl. If you wanna solve problems, let's fricking go. 'Cause we always have them, right? There's always a little thing that pops up here and there. Is it gonna be a big deal? We gonna move through it.

Who do you wanna be? Owners look at circumstances and see themselves and how they have agency, where they have control. Victims look at circumstances and see how they don't. They see how it's being done to them. How they're helpless to recover and how they need lots of people to remind them of how hard it is, and how they need lots of placating, and that's hard to watch because I know we can see it over and over and over and over and over again.

I know you know who I'm talking about. Gay Hendrix talks about the upper limit, and I've certainly seen this in my clients and people that I know and in myself. We hit these thresholds of success and then these moments happen in our lives. Whether we get sick, or other people we love get sick, or we make a huge mistake at work, we do something that undermines that threshold because we've hit a new threshold. Now, in his book, in The Big Leap - it's a really good book - he doesn't say that it's on purpose. But it perpetuates a story, right? Oh, I got there and then this happened. And of course it did.

And I also think what's true is it's not so much that the mistakes don't happen, and the tragedies don't happen. It's that how we choose to leverage or use that experience is what matters. That delineates the owner versus the victim. The owner says, "Well, that's not great. Didn't see that one coming. I'm going over here. I'm gonna gather myself up. I'm gonna get some good support, and I'm gonna go over here."

The victim says, "Yeah, I saw that coming. Always happens to me, and now I gotta sit here and really just feel it for a long time and I have to use it as a reason why I can't advance, I can't function, I can't connect, I can't grow. I can't make more money. I can't find the people. You know, I've hired so many people and none of them have worked out. I just, I can't. I just have to talk about how hard it is to hire people for the next seven months."

The owner says, "Yeah, hiring people's tough man. I wish I could have done better. I wish I could have found someone better, but I didn't. But you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna go look for another one." Employees not doing their jobs? Yeah, we got a lot of those. We got a lot of people not meeting your expectations. We absolutely do. We can either say, "Well, listen, I just can't even bother asking people to help me anymore because nobody ever does what I want, so I'm just gonna forget it and just give up and sit here and talk about how horrible and hard it is to manage people."

Or I'm just gonna say, "Yes, sometimes I don't communicate very well. I don't set my expectations very clearly, so I'm gonna take another crack at it. I'm gonna do a better job. I'm gonna clarify how to do this so that I can be more clear. And if they still don't deliver on my expectation and I know that I've been clear, then I'm gonna move them along." Owner.

Victim. "I still haven't been able to hit that goal. You know, I might as well just give up. That goal's just too hard. I just don't think it's meant for me. I think I'm, I think I just am not one of those people who's really ever gonna hit that goal." Or we could say, you know what? I haven't hit that goal yet, but damn, if I'm not relentlessly in pursuit of it. Here's four new things I'm gonna try. Here's how I'm gonna go out at this time.

And here's what I know. I believe that victim-thinking can be quite compartmentalized. I think we can be huge owners in like 85% of our lives, and we have these little pockets where we slip in to helplessness and sometimes victim thinking can feel like rest and feel like taking a break, when really what we're doing is just putting ourselves in a position of helplessness. Let's choose. Right?

I started this whole thing by telling you that I was gonna start doing less Zoom, right? That's part of my whole detox. Is that because I'm in a victim relationship with Zoom? No, it's because I allowed myself to get complacent with a tool in my business that everybody else also, I believe, in many ways is complacent with. And it's not actually driving the best version of myself as a coach. I believe that I am not serving as well as I could anymore, because of this tool. I am not asking enough of myself or the women I support.

So this is an active choice. This is to step back into my ownership voice of what I know to be true for me. And to take full responsibility. I'm very grateful for all of what I've been able to create so far. And now it's time to move because I was starting to get in a really negative relationship with a tool, which is so funny. So just notice this about yourself.

Right now over in the Moxie Sage, I'm gonna make like a list for you of what it sounds like to be an owner and what it sounds like to be a victim, or to identify and find and notice victim-thinkers because victim-thinkers are also not people you want on your team. They will suck you dry. Yeah. You'll chase satiating their pain over accomplishing the results of the business. That is an unquenchable proposition, so we have to stop.

If you signed up to be a leader, you signed up to be an owner, and if you don't know what that feels like, I get it. But what it looks like is, yes, I see where I could have done better. I take responsibility. Here's what my next step will be. Versus, yes, I see what they did and it's because of them that I got here, and this is so hard on me, and I just feel like it's just never ending. Like I'm never gonna get out of this and I think I need to go have wine with 12 of my friends on 12 different nights and talk about it. Then I need to talk to a colleague. Probably should talk to my staff about it too.

Victim thinking just causes lag. It doesn't solve anything. But in the moment, it gives you that rush right of attention. And not everybody listening to this will identify with what I'm saying. So I do appreciate that all though I do think we all slip into a little bit of victim thinking, different parts of our lives at different times in our lives, I just want us to notice the trends. First of all, someone who spins drama, I see them and sometimes it takes a while and then I realize like, oh, you. There we go. There it is.

It's like one lily pad of drama to the next like, oh, I see how the world is that you operate in. My girlfriend calls that a burning house. Right? Like as far as helping my clients, we have to see if the house is burning down. Because I don't wanna run into anybody else's burning house 'cause I'll just burn down with it. So we have to recognize, if there's one thing to have problems that we need to solve, there's another thing to have dramas that are just constantly spinning. There's a big difference.

So give yourself a minute and then maybe even ask yourself, how do you know when you're standing in a position of ownership or when you're standing in victim thinking? And how do you know when others are showing you and demonstrating it to you? Ownership or demonstrating victim thinking. I'll talk to you again next time.

Lead for Women is now open for registration. If you're a woman and you are also a visionary, somebody who sees the world differently than it is, and you are eager to achieve that through your work and by leveraging the hearts and minds of others, then I invite you to go to thevisionary.CEO/lead and learn everything you can about our Lead program.

While it's not for everyone, it really is for you if you are a woman who is ready to learn how to think better, so you can lead better, and you can live better. You have a legacy to leave here and I wanna help you leave it by enhancing and improving how you show up as a woman who leads. Join us there.

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