Youth Guide, September 2022

I have been to quite a few of Erasmus+ projects and I can say this one was very special. I will share one useful learning for everyday life and also give you one promise. If you go to a project having “basic synergy training” written somewhere in the description, it will not be just “a project”. You may love it, you may hate it but you will remember it for the rest of your life.

Training you will remember for the rest of your life

I will disappoint you first. I will not share why you will remember this project. Simply, not to spoil the experience for future participants. Go and see. What I can say though is that this training is intensive personal development. It encourages us to work with our mindset, to “review” our patterns, beliefs, to let go of the ones that do not serve us and to foster new ones. One of the key tools to do so is to learn to distinguish when we are in a so-called victim position and when we are accountable for our life. Here, I will share a bit about this concept which I find useful in everyday life.

Imagine you are in a situation that you don’t like. Maybe you really do not like studying for that particular exam in the subject in which the professor asks only about unnecessary details. Maybe your boss is nasty to you. Maybe you repeatedly suffer from the same health issue.

What happens often in these unpleasant situations is that we tend to feel trapped. Out of control. As a victim of the situation or other people’s behavior. 

We can recognize that we are in the “victim” mode if our mind is full of
– automatic thoughts that are difficult to let go
– blaming (of others or the circumstances)
– stories and excuses (why we cannot achieve what we want, what prevents us)
– waiting and hoping (that something or someone else will change and we will be happy)

Although (at least in my view), other people and the circumstances influence our situation, focusing on their influence does not support us. When we focus on the external influence of our situation, we put our happiness into the hands of others. And yes, the circumstances and other people might change. But they might also not. And if not, we remain an unhappy victim. Therefore, when we notice we are in the victim mode, it is useful to, if we can, intentionally switch to “accountable mode”.
This means
– accepting reality (and I would add that if we feel we cannot “accept” the reality genuinely, we can ask ourselves if we can at least be with that reality as it is)
– accepting responsibility for our situation and our feelings
– seeking a solution
– applying solution

I know, “finding a solution” is easy to say and often hard to do. But switching the perspective from “something bad happens to me, poor me” to “I am in charge of my situation” feels empowering and good. And It gives us the confidence and energy to do the next step.

We can start using it for small things, in everyday life. I will share an example. Last friday, I went to a doctor. I expected the visit to be quite quick because I was told by the nurse to come for a specific time. But when I arrived (on time), there were many other patients before me. I felt a bit angry because I wanted to go back to work, had no food with me, there was bad air in the room and the nurse was everything but nice. I was sitting there nervously for some time feeling as a victim of a mal-functioning system and the unpleasant nurse who I pay my taxes to. Then I realized I am in the victim mode and I decided to switch. I closed my eyes, did a short meditation session and then I took out my laptop and started to work there. And even though I still had no food, the air was bad, the nurse was still frowning and I waited long, the change of my attitude felt energizing and I did some good work there.

So as the trainers did at the training, when situations like that happen to me, I ask myself: Do you choose to be a victim or do you choose to stay strong?

Robert Ach-Hübner