Victimhood: How to Turn It Around and Take the Lead

Earlier this week I opened a new Facebook page and set up a new website. “What, another one?” I can hear my friends say as they read that sentence. Yep I did. But it had nothing to do with business. The page is Facebook.com/WildfireSurvivors and the site is WildfireSurvivors.com.
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You see, it’s been three years since our wildfire – the one where two people died, over 14,000 acres burned and 509 homes were destroyed, including mine. And during those three years, it took time for some of us to stop thinking of ourselves as victims.

Have you been through your own personal “wildfire?” If so, then tell me if this is true for you:

Phase I: We tell our story because it’s a very big event in our lives. At first, it’s all about trying to cope with the trauma. Then, we relive the experience in some way each day because we’re trying to manage the “mop up” details – all the things that need to be done after the fact. For a while, our whole world revolves around the event. It’s the “gift” that keeps on giving. Every day there’s a new issue to deal with, another memory to face, one more decision to make, grief that shows up in varying ways.

Phase 2: You start to feel uncomfortable when people talk about it because you know others who are much worse off. You’re still slogging through the situation, but now you may feel a little guilt. You may not feel like you deserve the good things, the kind things, that are coming your way. People are bending over backwards for you, but in a way, it’s keeping you stuck in a role you’d like to be rid of.

Phase 3: You’ve learned a lot by going through this “adventure”. You’d like to put it to work in a constructive way, so others need not go through the frustration you faced. But perhaps your first attempts to be of service are awkward – it feels like it’s all about you. People may say to put it behind you and move on. You tell yourself, “I can’t let this define me.” After all, you’ve got other responsibilities to handle and you’re not the only one who’s been through something like this.

Phase 4: Then, a lightbulb goes on. Something channels that energy in a different direction and it’s now easier to see how to turn the “lemon” into proverbial lemonade. Your ideas may become a cause – a worthy endeavor others relate to and want to get behind. You’ve found a way to leverage the lessons learned into a tool people can use to make things better.

Now, it does define you – but in a whole new way. A healthier way. And you couldn’t have gotten there by going from zero to sixty all at once. The process was necessary. Only because of that process can you apply insights you earned to have an impact on those who come next.

And that’s how WildfireSurvivors.com was born!

So whatever you went through, whatever you faced, it may be time to turn it around and take the lead!