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How to Overcome a Victim Mindset in Order to Better Serve Your Nonprofit and Your Community

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This post is part of a series on limiting beliefs. Read the previous posts on overcoming the fear that your story doesn’t matter and the idea that success is selfish

When it comes to success, either personally or professionally, mindset is everything. Having the right mindset can help you take chances you wouldn’t usually take, seize opportunities, create relationships, and cultivate confidence even in the face of failure. 

But where does your mindset come from? Often, your mindset is influenced by what you’ve been taught to believe through your own personal experiences or “scripts.”

Today I want to talk about three mindsets: The Victim, The Survivor, and The Thriver. You can learn more in this TED Talk from Jane Carson-Sandler.

These are three mindsets you can have surrounding your script—the dialogue you have in your mind about yourself, your history, and your future. These mindsets can be observed and adopted throughout childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood. The important thing to remember is that you have the power to change the mindsets that aren’t serving you. You can instead embrace a mindset that benefits you and, by extension, the community you’re hoping to serve

Understanding The Victim, The Survivor, and The Thriver Mindsets

The first step in changing something is understanding it. Here’s a brief look at each mindset to help you better understand which one you have. 

In short: 

  • The Victim thinks life is happening to them.
  • The Survivor feels as though they always have to fight.
  • The Thriver is optimistic and has a “doing” mindset; they want to learn, succeed, and take charge of their life.

When you’re in the victim mindset, you focus on your weaknesses and complaints. You likely blame others and your circumstances for your problems and make excuses for things in your control. You might resist change, compare yourself to others, and remain stuck where you are. 

If you’re currently in this mindset, I encourage you to look at your life, the obstacles you’ve solved in the past, and the times you’ve taken action to improve your circumstances. These examples will reinforce the idea that you’re not a victim at all. In fact, so much is in your power. Furthermore, you can change certain things in your life to improve the overall quality of it. 

If you feel like you’re in the survivor mindset, I want to be a voice of encouragement for you. It’s OK if you’re still having to fight for things. However, I’m also going to challenge you: What shifts can you make to your life and your narrative that put you in an even more intentional place of control? What can you do to set yourself up to thrive?  

If you’re in the thriver mindset, you’re looking for multiple options and making wise choices. You’ve assumed the role of the author of your life. You now walk around with a sense of empowerment, knowing that you can solve problems that come up in your personal and professional worlds.  

As you can imagine and may have even seen in your life, getting your mindset right when it comes to performing under pressure is vital to success. Your ability to confidently lead, complete your daily duties, and communicate with your team will determine how you carry out each action or social interaction. This will make you a more effective nonprofit professional, which means you’ll be better equipped to carry out your organization’s mission.  

Now that you know about these mindsets, step back and look at how you’re feeling now and what stories you’re telling yourself about what you can and can’t do. If you’re stuck in the victim or survivor mindset, write down arguments to counter your insecurities. Keep a list of affirmations or rebuttals on hand so you can transition into a thriver mindset and better serve your community

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