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Look in the Mirror, Not Out the Window

December 11, 2023

We could all use some more personal reflective time in front of a mirror.  In a world where it seems easier to point fingers than to clasp hands, too many of us are caught up in a relentless storm of fretting about factors outside our control. It’s as if an overwhelming wave of victim mentality has swept through our society, compelling us to look out the window at the conditions that ail us rather than in the mirror at the change agents we can be.

Free A Woman in Turtleneck Sweater Reflection on a MIrror Stock Photo

We’ve become quick to judge and slow to act. Rather than taking the reins of our lives, too many are content to sit back and catalog reasons why success, happiness, or fulfilling relationships are out of reach. It’s a comfortable narrative, one that absolves us of responsibility, but it’s also a crippling one. It ensures we remain passengers in our lives, never fully living, never fully exploring the breadth of our potential.

Today’s workplaces, interestingly, have never been more accommodating to employees. And yet, paradoxically, the more organizations strive to balance the scales, the more some perceive an imbalanced relationship. This is not about pointing out systemic issues that do require change; it’s about recognizing that a mindset of viewing oneself as a perpetual victim is an obstacle to personal progress.

The truth is that many individuals have overcome circumstances far graver than what most of us face today. The difference lies in focus. Those who rise above challenges concentrate on what they can control: themselves. They don’t get ensnared in the trap of what they can’t influence.

This victim mentality has another side effect: tribalism. It propels people into the arms of those who share their grievances. While finding community is essential, it becomes problematic when it reinforces a narrow worldview where coexistence is threatened and understanding is limited. We must remember that coexistence isn’t just a lofty ideal; it’s a cornerstone of human survival.

Let’s pivot our approach. Instead of seeing others as roadblocks, we should recognize that, when chosen and nurtured wisely, our relationships can be the very stepping stones to our fulfillment. As one of my favorite living poets, David Whyte, posits, “We are the architects of our own future happiness.” So, why hand over the blueprint to someone else?

Each day, we should wake up with thoughts of how we can positively affect our current reality, not what the world owes us. How can we be better friends, partners, or colleagues? What hard work can we undertake today to forge our path to success? The answers to these questions are the foundations upon which we can build a life of contentment and achievement.

It’s not an intricate formula; it’s rather simple, albeit not easy. Instead of looking out the window each morning, wondering what should or could be, ask yourself, “What do I need to do today to create the life I want to live?” It’s time to look in the mirror and make the choice to take control of your destiny.