Dr. Skip Downing, author of “On Path,” is a world-renowned foreign expert specializing in faculty growth and student performance methods, with experience as both an academic mentor and a guide in the implementation of concepts learned. Downing explicitly analyzes the causal factors of negative outcomes in an individual’s life in chapter two, “Accepting Personal Responsibility.” After that, he explains the tactics and guidelines to follow in order to ensure a successful turnaround. As a result, the chapter’s primary goal is to assist in the transition from victim to creator. Key terminologies used are: victim, referring to a type of mindset that is self-defeating, keeping one from seeing and acting on choices that could help them. Creator refers to a type of mindset that causes one to see multiple options out of an undesirable situation. Inner critic refers to an internal voice that judges us as inadequate. Inner defender, on the other hand, judges others and blames our problems on sources that seem beyond our control. The inner guide refers to the wise, impartial inner voice that tells the truth as best as it can (Downing). In understanding and application of the principles therein, I realize that during my education in high school and college I have oscillated between being a victim and a creator in dealing with various situations and circumstances pertaining my education as highlighted in this essay.
To begin with, I never liked school. I had no motivation to learn, and when I got to school, I had difficulty grasping. I would often fail to complete my assignments. Eventually, I dropped out at the age of sixteen and secured a job, employed full time. I later became a mother at the age of eighteen. In retrospect, I now realize that the reason was that I had a victim mindset. The inner critic in me always led me to think that I was not smart enough, that I was inadequate. I always told myself that no matter how much effort I put, I would never perform well. I would look at some of my classmates who often led in class, and I would say to myself, “There is no way you could ever perform better than so and so.” When asked why I failed to complete my assignments, I would say they were difficult and that I was not expected to get a perfect score anyway. Unknowingly, through my self-criticism, I was playing a victim.
Besides my negative self-criticism, I also blamed other external factors for my incompetence, another manifestation of being a victim- my inner defender, according to Downing. I always blamed my mother for always being at work since she was a single mother with three daughters. I told myself that she had no time to listen to me and advise me on how to go about with my school work, so whenever I got a bad score after an exam, I would say that “I get no parental advice and guidance anyway; my mother is too busy even to check my progress.” As a result, I remained lethargic, and my performance became poorer with time. I also blamed her for having to buy for myself everything I needed. Whether it was a phone or a car, I had to work for it. As a result, I even became truant and would abscond some classes to go and seek some menial jobs to get money for buying items I needed. By not attending class, I wouldn’t realize even when some assignments were given, and so I wouldn’t do them. My performance deteriorated further. Little did I know that I was having a victim mindset for as Downing states, “When I am blaming, complaining or excusing, my efforts cause little or no improvement; victims waste their energy and remain stuck” (Downing). How true his words were for my case!
My victim mindset followed me to college still, for upon getting my high school diploma later, I decided to join college. However, I would later drop out within three months, again complaining of difficulty in juggling between child cares and attending my night classes, many of which I missed anyway. Besides, my child’s father was unsupportive. Eventually, our relationship failed.
Fast forward ten years later – I believe that I am now more of a creator. So here I am, twenty-nine years old, married to a wonderful and supportive man, now with two children and at the same time a college student. I shunned the inner critic language and embraced my inner guide. In applying the principle of making wise decisions, I relied on my inner guide to objectively evaluate my situation. I accepted responsibility for creating my outcomes at the time and developed a plan. In ascribing to Downing’s principle that, “Creators seek solutions and take action, using their energy for improving their lives,” I developed a study plan. I now participate actively in class, giving contributions regularly. Instead of making excuses that my work at the hospital is demanding, I utilize my breaks when at work to complete my assignments. I have also engaged my colleagues at work who have been very supportive sometimes even taking my shifts when am having exams for example. I have also engaged my husband who has been very supportive, taking up some of my chores leaving me much time to study. As a result of these affirmative actions, am not only enjoying my study in college but also my academic performance has been improving. I am more motivated to take up challenging assignments because when I get stuck, instead of quitting as I used to do as a victim, I look for resources to help me Despite there being a tug of war between the victim and creator parts in me, I indeed have chosen to learn more towards being a creator.
In conclusion, an understanding of the principles of accepting personal responsibility has enabled me to understand my life in a better perspective. Working in a medical setting pushes me to want more, and in order to succeed, I will want to remain a creator and further weed out the victim tendencies. I believe that with this understanding I will be able to make and follow through with wise decisions consciously.
Downing, Skip. On Course. 6th. Cengage Learning, 2010.