We all know people who seem to have been dealt the right hand of cards in life.
From the looks to the upbringing, the jobs and the friends. And for others, fate deals them the cards that are leftover.
When you fall into the latter category it can be hard not to feel resentful. At times, you think “Why me? What did I possibly do to deserve this set of circumstances?”
But learning to approach life in a more positive way regardless of what happens to you is key to creating the life you have always dreamed of.
I’ve overcoming considerable boundaries to become the successful businessman and best-selling author that I am today. And I too went through stages of feeling like a victim and wallowing in self-pity at the cards life had dealt me.
But if you follow my advice to a better mindset, I promise that soon, you too will thrive. Here’s how.
1. Stop focussing on what’s happened to you
As wonderful as life can be — alongside the moments of pure joy, love and gratitude there can be darkness and despair.
When you’re in those darker moments, they feel as though they’ll never end. You may think that you’ll never “get over it” nor be happy again.
But as raw and valid as those feelings are at the time, they are just that — feelings. And like all others, give them time and they will fade or pass.
I could lie awake every night of my life thinking about the people who have done me wrong. I could think about the childhood I lost to my disability. The years of relentless bullying from my peers and my father. The discrimination I have faced in life and in business for being both disabled and black.
When I was five years old, I went to bed after a long, happy day playing with my foster siblings. I had a shiny, new bike at home that I couldn’t wait to take for a spin around the small village on the outskirts of Leicester where we lived.
And yet when I awoke in the night, something wasn’t right. I went to the toilet and back to bed but shortly after I had a violent fit and blacked out.
The next thing I remember was being in hospital. I had contracted a severe case of Polio — a disease which, by then, was meant to have been eradicated from the UK.
Even the doctors didn’t know how it was possible I had caught it — so how unlucky did that make me?
In one night, my life changed forever. I became paralysed from the neck down. I was given a 10% chance of survival and if I did survive, it was likely that I would never walk again.
My heart ached with sadness when I thought of my shiny, new bike sitting at home for me.
Those early days taught me a lot about feeling like a victim. I had gone from a happy, mobile child without a care in the world to a talking head in a hospital bed.
Even at such a young age, I just couldn’t understand why had this happened to me. But if life has taught me anything, it’s that things just happen. Sad, terrible things of which there is no rhyme nor reason.
But it’s not what happens to us that matters — it’s how we CHOOSE to respond that counts.
2. Forgive those who have done you wrong
In life, you will come across many people who will treat you badly.
When it first happens and for years to come, they can make you feel angry, betrayed and hurt beyond repair. But it is incredibly important that you learn to forgive them.
Not for them — it’s not likely that they are worthy of your forgiveness. But you need to forgive them for you.
I suffered horrific abuse at the hands of my father throughout my entire childhood. In Nigeria, having a disabled child is seen as something to be embarrassed by and it was a feeling he could never quite shake.
Not long after I went back to live with my birth parents when I was eight, I distinctly remember my father carrying me on his back into the woods to go and see a witch doctor.
This witch doctor thought he could “cure” my disabilities through a range of intensely painful and pointless procedures. He gave me vicious tribal cuts. Of course, none of his “procedures” made no difference.
So my father took to beating me instead to satisfy his own twisted need to feel better about my physical shortcomings.
He told me that I would never amount to anything. His abuse left deep psychological scars that may never fully fade. I hated how he treated me and the way he treated my mother and siblings, too. Hearing them being beaten was almost too much to bear.
Eventually, my father stopped to an all new low and married a younger woman whilst remaining married to my mother. He was 50 years old at the time and not only did he do this, but he moved her into our family home.
With this new woman, he had five more children and as a result, he was driven into poverty by their school and university fees well into his 70s.
The once proud Nigerian man that he was ended up dying alone and in severe poverty as a result.
Towards the end of his life and as I grew into an adult, I had to learn to let these feelings go. They were only knawing at me from the inside out.
You cannot change the past — you can only change your future. And sitting alone in sadness and solitude, being a victim won’t change what’s happened
That’s the thing about hate, anger and resentment — it only hurts you. It doesn’t hurt the people who have wronged you. They are sat, in oblivion, getting on with their lives.
Karma is a powerful force and in time it will show itself, but you owe it to yourself to get on with your life and to make the most of it, too.
It’s not saying it’s easy, because God knows it’s not — but I have faith that if I can do it, you can too.
3. Learn to understand your feelings
As humans, when we feel a certain way we instinctively look for a cause. And more often than not, we look for a person or circumstance to blame because it’s easier than blaming ourselves.
People let life happen to them, rather than the other way around.
By labelling yourself in your mind as “a victim” you are taking the loci of control away from yourself and placing it onto someone else. And though it may make you feel better in the short-term, it’s a dangerous habit and far from a real solution.
By resigning yourself to being a victim you are not being proactive with your problems. You are not saying “This awful thing happened, but I will not let it define my future.”
When bad things happen, people tend to respond in two ways. Person A takes the situation, accepts how it makes them feel and though it is hard and difficult, at some point they make a decision to take proactive steps for a better, more positive future.
Person B takes the situation, runs away from how it makes them feel and uses forms of escapism to try and forget about the problem.
They may feel that they are simply desperately “unlucky” or “destined to fail”. That these are the cards life has dealt them, and they’re forever destined to be someone without love, respect and happiness.
But this simply isn’t true.
With the things I have experienced, I had every reason to draw into myself. To fall into a deep depression. To feel like maybe my father was right, that I was not destined for anything and to do nothing of purpose with my life.
But deep down, I knew it wasn’t true. I used the way he made me feel as a motivator. And now, I know that if I can overcome disability (I learned to walk again, though I can only walk short distances), abuse and discrimination, I can overcome anything.
I believe that you can achieve anything you set out to with enough will and determination.
Your mind and body are more adaptive than you give them credit for. And trust me when I say that understanding your feelings is the first step to overcoming them.
I am often asked that if I could see my life before I was born — a life of incredible hardship, disability and abuse — would I have chosen to be born?
The answer is yes.
I refused to accept the hand that life dealt me. We have the power to change our path at any time — and in this modern day, there’s more opportunity than ever before to make your life a success.
I am now the Founder of several successful businesses. A best-selling author. A husband to my wife, Diana, who has always believed in me. And a father to two wonderful children.
Life does not come without its hardships — but if you can break out of your victim mindset, you will soon see the beauty in living that has been there all along.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, you can read more about my experiences of surviving disability, abuse and racism in my best-selling book, I Can, I Will.
I love the opportunity to spread my message of the power of a positive mindset. Therefore if you would like me to speak at your event you can also contact me here.
Thanks for reading!