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The Victim or The Master


The Victim or The Master

This idea of victimization and mastery has been on my mind for awhile now and I’ve hesitated to write about it because I don’t want to come off as insensitive.  I was recently at a conference and had some really good conversations about it, so I thought this might be the time to write.  I was also recently robbed so I thought that may be an appropriate story to share too, for the purpose of this post.

What I really want to say is simple – we are not victims, ever.  Now I realize this statement alone is heavy and probably will evoke strong reactions, but I’d like to elaborate.   Of course I recognize that there are horrible types of suffering in the world, pains out of our control and circumstances that we don’t directly ask for.  Just like with every other event in our lives though, there are opportunities.  Even in the worst circumstance there is opportunity for growth, knowledge and development.  If we can recognize this opportunity, then we are never victims.  The world is not happening to us.  Situations may exist, but what I am referring to is our perception, reaction and interpretation of these situations.  What we choose to take away from the situation, and how it shapes who we are, is where our power lies.  We have the choice to be the victim or the master.

We can see examples of victimization vs. mastery in the most horrific of stories and we can see examples of this in our everyday life. For example – The recently made famous story: I Am Mala, tells of a girl with unprecedented resiliency over her situation.  I encourage you to read the story but quickly summarized; this girl comes back to advocate for the rights of her community and her nation even after serious violence towards her.  Even after an attempt on her life she still chooses to see past this and that her cause for bringing education, peace and equality is worth the risk.  This resiliency is founded by perception.  Her perception pushes her through a seemingly horrific situation, and by all accounts it is.  However, her choice of response to her situation makes her the master of it, not the victim.

We see other examples in our every day lives where the immediate reaction may be of victimization.   Examples such as; the person who cuts in front of you in line or cuts you off on the highway, the coworker who expresses anger towards you for seemingly no reason, the family member who avoids your calls, the spouse who doesn’t follow through with an agreement, and the examples go on and on.  Fortunately these are all opportunities to look at the bigger picture and to decide if your perception will be one of victimization or mastery.

The Victim at Work

So as I said, I was recently robbed for the first time in my life.  I’ll admit my reaction in the first couple days was definitely victimization.  And the reality is that I was a “victim of a robbery.”   Possessions were stolen from me, that did happen. But I still have the choice of how I interpret the situation and what kind of identify I take on because of the situation.  The kind of victimization I’m talking about has to do with the response to what happened, not what actually took place.   To hold the identity of a victim for too long is dangerous.  Now I could have certainly wallowed in my own anger, hate, frustration and self pity, but I’m confident this wouldn’t have produced anything for me.   So after about two days, I switched hats.

The Master at Work

Instead of feeling horrible about the situation I started to ask myself questions.  Questions like –

  • What is the lesson I can take from this?

  • What does this teach me about what is valuable to me?

  • How much worse off am I really?

  • How does this offer me an opportunity to see all that I DO have?

  • Most importantly – what kind of perception and identity am I choosing and how is this serving me?

So here is what I came up with:  One of the lessons I took is to be more mindful and observant of my environment.  What I was able to identify about value was helpful too.  The things that were taken from me were important, and even sentimental/irreplaceable….but the truth is that they are just things.  I still have a great place to live, wonderful family and friends in my life, an exciting developing business, I’m in good shape, a good car and the list goes on.  I have everything I need and am safe.   Lastly, looking at how my perception is serving my situation, there is no question of which perception is constructive and which is destructive.  Through choosing to master my situation I am forging ahead, not only letting go of the negativity that surrounds the situation, but pulling the lessons that can be drawn.  There are always lessons.

So next time you are faced with a situation that makes you feel anger, hate, pity, self doubt or anything else that is destructive to your overall development, ask yourself:  “Am I the Victim or the Master?”



How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy


How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy

How to Talk to Your Partner About Therapy

Having a conversation with your partner about therapy does not have to be a negative experience.  Often times the thought of going to couples counseling can be overwhelming for people.  While certainly there may be things in therapy that are uncomfortable or difficult to talk about, the end result people are looking for is always a positive change.  Keeping the long term goal of therapy in mind may be an important factor when exploring when, or if to seek relationship help.

Here are some other strategies to keep in mind when considering how to talk to your partner about therapy.

Be honest 

This seems obvious, right?  Even though being honest may seem like it should go without saying, sometimes what we don’t say holds just as much information as what we do say.   Being honest with your partner about what your concerns are as well as what your hope is for the future, can be a great place to start.

Therapy is not a last resort 

Viewing therapy as a last resort is a sentiment I’ve heard often…..and even felt in my own life to be honest. However, I think looking at therapy as a last resort option, sets us up for trouble.  Imagine these two statements –

  • “I don’t know what else to do; I guess we’ll have to go to therapy to figure it out.”
  • “We’ve tried some things so far and are still struggling, why don’t we try therapy and if that doesn’t help we’ll figure it out another way.”

Now based on the feelings from these two statements, which one would you say has a better chance of moving towards change?  I hope you said statement number two.  My point is that our intentions that we set prior to entering therapy can have an impact on outcome.

Make it about you 

Remember that your partner will probably not be convinced to go see a therapist if they think that you want to fix them or that it is their issues that need to be addressed.  So instead, make it about you.  Exploring ways you think seeing a therapist may be helpful for you will open up an invitation to your partner, rather than putting them on the defensive.

Make it about the partnership 

I know, I know, I just said something else right? The truth is that you can do both.  It can be helpful to speak about where we are coming from and our own needs rather than exploring how we can change someone else.  In addition, it’s helpful to set the intention that therapy is ultimately about how to make the partnership happier, healthier and more fulfilling.  So make it a collaboration.

To learn more about considerations to make before choosing a therapist, check this post out on “how to choose a therapist.”


If you can only remember one thing – remember this:  You are learning to cope with something. Learning to cope with a loss, a disconnect, a sadness, an infidelity or perhaps a list of many other potential struggles.   So, when approaching your partner, this acronym will help – COPE.





Calm – Approach your partner when you are both calm.  Often times the discussion of possibly engaging in therapy may come up during a fight….this can be a hard time to have this discussion (or sometimes any discussion. Revisiting this when both people are calm and can talk about options with a clear head is very important.

Open – Remaining open to not only what may unfold in therapy, but also how your partner may responds is important.  Remember that initial reactions may be off putting and that giving your partner time to process may be necessary.    On the other hand, not assuming that they will be closed off to therapy is important too.

Positive – In the same vein of not assuming, setting an intention for a positive outcome is important.  As you enter into any discussion with your partner, or anyone really, having a positive sense about it may help to set the tone for the conversation.  I don’t mean to say that things will always be easy or go your way in the conversation, but remaining open to the idea that something positive can come from it regardless, can be an empowering perspective.

Earnest – Offering the most sincere explanation for how you’d like to work on the relationship is important.  Honesty and authenticity is important, but remember, not at the cost of staying calm, open and positive.  Keeping a balance between these ideas can be a helpful strategy.

Ultimately though, no one knows your relationship better than the two of you.  Keep in mind that while you may be seeking some guidance, your own insight is so valuable!   I’ll wrap up with this quote –

“Another reality about relationships is that they are never static. All of us experience changes in relationships but a few stop to analyze why a relationship gets better or worse.” 
Gary Chapman

Please feel free to reach out with questions.

All the best,


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Counseling vs Coaching

Coaching vs Counseling - Arc Integrated

Coaching vs Counseling

There are many different resources regarding what the difference and similarities are when looking at counseling vs coaching.  I see them as definitely more connected than separate.  However, when considering which one to move towards I think this is an even easier question.  When looking for a therapist the issue is often related to a pain or a function that needs to be addressed.  When looking for a coach someone may be more interested in developing something new, improving something already in place or advancing in career, health, finance, leadership or relationally.   When looking for more resources about coaching, a great resource is The International Coaching Federation.  For access to more information about therapy, visit Good Therapy.  However, if you are trying to decide what service to go with, counseling or coaching, then see this article on How to Choose a Therapist or Other Helping Professional.

If you decide that coaching is the route to take, then great! Remember there are lots of options within coaching, just like within therapy.  Some types of coaching may include –

Personal Development Coaching

This may consist of working with individuals to make shifts in their lives that they feel will help them move towards the direction they want.   Personal development coaching can be related to work, relationships, finance or wellness.   This type of coaching may involve exploring strengths and challenge areas in order to build on individual passions, successes and experiences.

Executive Coaching

Executive coaches may work with leaders within an organization around business strategy or how to most effectively work with employees. Alternatively, executive coaches may also help to offer insight into how the personal dynamic of the individual impacts their business.

Career Coaching

Just as it sounds, insight around what kind of career to start, move from, end or change.  This can often be a component of other types of coaching or a specialty.

Similar to therapy, coaching involves setting goals and pursuing specific outcomes.  However, unlike therapy, coaching involves forward facing strategy and is not focused on resolving emotional functioning or processing pain for example.

So how does one decide what qualifies a coach within any of the previous categories, or even other coaching categories?    Just like within many of the disciplines of the mental health field, coaching has and is evolving.  At this point, anyone can still call themselves a “coach.”  This is different from stating “Licensed Counselor, Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist or Licensed Social Worker”, where in fact there is a mandatory license to be able to use this language.  Since coaching is relatively new it is only governed by certification.  So while you don’t need a certificate or license to call yourself a coach, you can obtain a certificate in a wide variety of coaching disciplines.  So does this make it less credible?  I don’t think so, necessarily.  While it is not governed with the level of scrutiny as the other mental health professions, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t highly skilled professionals in the coaching field that bring a great wealth of knowledge and experience.  Ultimately I think it comes back to the question of – Do I identify with, trust and feel like I can gain valuable insight from this person?

In my opinion both coaching and counseling are greatly valuable. I think that the approaches you are looking for as well as what you are trying to change are equally important questions to ask if you are considering signing up for therapy or coaching.  Here are some other questions to ask yourself (or the helping professional) when considering which direction to take –

How action oriented do I want this process to be?

How much time do I want to spend processing what is happening or what happened?

Am I in the process of or still struggling with some kind of traumatic experience?

Is this change that I am after more goal oriented or process oriented?

Am I wanting to gain insight into this issue or am I just interested in changing circumstances?

Good luck on the journey and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.



P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, effective workplace culture, dynamic leadership  and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.arcintegrated.com/book.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive Chapter One (for FREE) from the upcoming book – CHANGES.  This book explores seven themes of sustainable change so that you can finally achieve the professional and personal goals you have been striving for but keep missing.