Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Victim mentality

Many of the pages here deal with how things have not gone my way due to the failings of others or external circumstances (e.g. unfortunate childhood, incompetent colleagues). The possible opinion in the reader that I suffer from victim mentality would be understandable in this light. Because I am my own greatest critic, I have given this possibility a lot of thought:

  1. In a stricter sense, this is definitely not the case: The core of victim mentality is the attitude “I am a victim (of this or that); no-one can demand that I should even try, so I will not.”. My attitude is very different, e.g. in that I do consider myself a victim of an unfortunate childhood that did set back my personal development in some areas severely, but have as an adult striven to overcome these weaknesses—and probably stand stronger today than I would have with a “picture book” childhood. Similarly, whereas I see the stupidity of mankind as a frustration and an unnecessary obstacle, I try to find ways to work around it, rather than just giving up.

    (In fact, the origin of these pages is an attempt to help myself and others who encounter similar problems to better understand the rest of the world and to work around those problems.)

  2. In a looser sense, the question arises whether I (consciously or unconsciously) use others as an excuse for problems in my past, rather than as an explanation, or an explanation to a higher degree than can be rationally justified. This question is trickier, both in the light of some ambiguity and the impossibility of being entirely impartial where oneself is concerned. What I can say, is that:

    1. I try to be impartial and review my own role critically.

    2. Some pages have elements of “therapeutic writing” and/or steam-letting. These may on occasion be somewhat unfair or exaggerated (at least in their original form—I typically try to make the versions published on the Internet more objective).

    3. The focus of these pages by necessity give the failings of others a heavy emphasis, which can mislead the reader into thinking that they play a greater role in my mind than they actually do.

      In particular, there are many cases where I am aware of own failings in a particular situation, but have not explicitly stated them. For instance, many past issues have arisen due to incompatibilities with people on a lower level of intelligence or a different way of thinking. In my discussions, I will typically focus on the problems caused by their irrationality. However, this does not (necessarily) mean that I consider myself innocent of failure. On the contrary, I am well aware that overcoming incompatibilities is the job of both parties; and that even when the other party is to blame, I am still partially guilty, if I fail to do damage control and find work-arounds.

    4. As stated above, I am my own greatest critic (or so I hope...)—and I try to put myself under the same critical eye as I do others. The proportion of this critique that is published here is, however, noticeably smaller.

      Still, I have over the years made many mistakes, reaching from trivialities (like starting a coffee-maker without filling the water-tank) to definite screw-ups—just like everyone else. While I am, understandably, not that keen on writing about them, they are on my mental map.

Note: The repeated use of “try” above is very deliberate. I do not claim to have always been successful.