I want to begin this post with an apology for all my incessant whining over the years. I have no doubt looking back upon things that I drove many people away from me with my constantly sour attitude. In fact, even though I’d like to think I’m better than I used to be, I still let negativity take over sometimes and make myself intolerable to be around. If you are one of those people I referred to earlier, I’m sorry.
I didn’t really get a grasp on how bad this problem was until a few years ago when someone had the courage to look me in the eye during one of my moaning sessions and say, “I’m hearing a victim mentality.” Well, of course, as anyone with a victim mentality knows, the last thing someone with a victim mentality wants to hear is that they have a victim mentality. As initially occurred with me in this case, the victim mentality brain will immediately feel attacked and – you guessed it – victimized, putting the person on the defensive. Sometimes it’s a wake-up call. Other times, it’s a call to arms.
I first heard the notion of United States President Barack Obama having a victim mentality put forward by Rush Limbaugh. I’m not sure if the idea was originally Limbaugh’s, but it was virtually identical to opinions set forth in a column by psychiatrist and Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow from October 2013 titled “Is Obama Locked in a Victim Mentality?”. Here’s a clip of what Ablow had to say:
“Seeing Barack Obama as someone who has a victim mentality would explain a lot. That mentality relies on believing one has been harmed, that one was not responsible for the injuries that occurred, that one could not have prevented what happened and that the person’s suffering makes that person morally right and deserving of sympathy.”
Even going back just a few days, one can find compelling evidence to suggest Ablow might be on to something. Here’s a quote from Obama regarding the House of Representatives refusal to extend unemployment insurance, raise the minimum wage, and enact a fair pay proposal:
“And they criticize me for this. (Speaker of the House John) Boehner sued me for this. And I told him I’d rather do things with you; pass some laws; make sure the Highway Trust Fund is funded so we don’t lay off hundreds of thousands of workers. It’s not that hard.”
So here is a two-fold example of victimization. First of all, the president feels he is being criticized for something that is not his fault. Then, not only is he facing criticism, he is also facing a lawsuit, something else he considers unfair. These themes are fairly consistent with wording Ablow pointed out in his column, noting the president made reference to Congress taking “hostages,” using “extortion,” and threatening to “blow up” the government.
Considering my own history in this regard, it’s difficult for me to condemn Obama too harshly for this. After all, he did not experience an ideal childhood, and he often saw those around him struggling emotionally and financially. While this gives him an empathy for those who struggle, however, the act begins to wear thin after a while. Even though no one enjoys seeing another person struggle, sometimes life will not be perfect. Money will run tight. People will screw you over. Things will have to be sacrificed. And not everyone is going to agree with you all the time, no matter how awesome you believe your ideas are.
Just today, I found myself headed down a road of negativity in a conversation, and I followed that road longer than I should have. I felt I had been slighted in some way, and maybe I had. Dwelling on it was not the answer, though, and I felt myself getting a little more uncomfortable with each word I spoke. I’m becoming uncomfortable being a victim, and I’m simultaneously getting more uncomfortable with the notion of a victim-in-chief in the Oval Office. Few good things come from that kind of attitude.
Trust me. I know.