So my friend shared this video on Facebook the other day of Will Smith talking about Fault vs Responsibility and I found myself agreeing to a point.
In the video Will talks about how when you blame you get stuck “into victim mode” and that “when you’re in victim mode you are stuck in suffering”. Which are true enough statement for sure.
Fault vs Responsibility: Am I a Victim?
If you want to get technical, the definition of the word Victim is as follows
1) a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty, injured person, wounded person; More
2) a person who is tricked or duped.
“the victim of a hoax”
synonyms: dupe, easy target, easy prey, fair game, sitting target, everybody’s fool, stooge, gull, fool, Aunt Sally; More
3) a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment.
So to be fair, though it’s not fashionable to say, I am in fact a victim by the very definitions of the term. I don’t say this with any kind of pride or grand status but if I do have a victim mindset (I do) it’s the result of my having been a literal victim. It’s not just something I’ve made up in my head for attention or sympathy.
The Victim Mindset
I confess and openly admit to having a ‘victim’ mindset. I actively focus on the blaming of my perpetrators for what they did and for the subsequent deterioration of my mental health. Over the years, I have on more than one occasion been heard to say angrily.
“It’s not fair”
”I didn’t ask for this”
“I didn’t deserve this”
And it’s true, I didn’t deserve it, I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t fair and what’s more it wasn’t my fault in any shape or form.
Still, a great many people would say this does not strictly mean one has to reside within that mindset. What a great many people are neglecting to acknowledge however is that our minds are all very very different.
I’m not stuck in this “victim mode” for my own amusement or pleasure. I’m here in this mindset because of the emotional and psychological reaction I experienced as the result of repeated traumatic incidents. Not my fault, but is my responsibility Will would argue I imagine…
Understanding My Reaction
I reacted this way due to a number of factors many of which are beyond my limited knowledge. Through reading I’ve come to learn that elements such as life experiences and even genetics can and do affect how we respond psychologically to different situations.
Chances are, many others would not have reacted the same way. And chances are many others would experience situations objectively ‘worse’ and then stand up boldly and declare with dignity “I will not allow myself to be a victim” (even though technically they are, whether they care to admit it or not. But we all know what they mean). They may even mean it and, do you know what? Good for them!
Whilst I agree fundamentally with Will Smith that there is a major difference between fault and responsibility my issue with his video is that it’s too clear cut and over simplified. It fails to acknowledge that through the damaging actions of others, through the fault of others, we whose responsibility it is to fix it can become greatly incapacitated and therefore our ability to fix it is massively hindered.
“Sometimes we need support to help us take responsibility”
Not a quote from the video but from a FB comment in response to mine RE ability being hindered.
In our house, the book The Little Prince is significant for a number of reasons. Its was S’s favourite book when we met, he quoted it much, and I loved it too. In it lies the quote:
”We are forever responsible for what we have tamed”
Our loved ones have a responsibility to us, as we do to them. I would argue that, rather than the responsibility being ours and ours alone as Smith states the ones who love us have a responsibility to support us when and where we find ourselves incapacitated (Providing their own capabilities allow it).
I have tried, at turns, different ways of addressing my depression over the years. I have taken responsibility and researched various therapies. Tried a few too. When I have not been so depleted and drained of energy that I couldn’t function. Even this blog is as much about me making something good out of this shitty thing that happened as it is about reaching out to others; this blog is me taking responsibility and owning my depression.
I take responsibility for improving the damage done, when I can muster the physical and mental energy required. Which is fucking difficult when the damage done saps you of the physical and mental energy required
The Energy and Mental Capacity
As I don’t always have the energy or mental capacity to do so, I need support from others to help me take responsibility and assist in pulling me out of this victim mindset not with coercion, guilt, pressure or shaming tactics but though kindness, understanding, compassion, reassurance, patience and, well, love. As do a great many who struggle with mental health issues. And whilst I agree we have a responsibility to ourselves, I believe too that our loved ones have a responsibility to us to provide that help where they can.
And what if it was a loved one, who “tamed” us to refer back to The Little Prince (as we did them), who was the one to inflict the damage and was the one at fault? By my belief that loved ones have a responsibility to one another, do fault and responsibility not go together then? Even if harm was unintentional, even if they could not anticipate the scale of damage they would cause. Whether they acknowledge it or not, do they then not have a further responsibility to help fix the thing they broke?
Reproduced with permission, originally posted on whatkirstydid